24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Beautifully realised angle on the Jazz Age,
This review is from: Tender is the Night (Penguin Popular Classics) (Paperback)
I have read three of Fitzgerald's four novels published during his lifetime, and although I can see why the Great Gatsby is considered his finest work, Tender is the Night is also brilliant, and I like it perhaps more.
The Fitzgerald staples are there. The trademark couple modelled on himself and Zelda, the parties and glory of the jazz age with its tragic mirror in the Lost Generation's futile search among the illusions of wealth. The style here is light and sharp, equally capable of grace and grit, and enlivened with the unique dialogue of the 'flappers.' The time shifts are handled deftly, whilst the intricacy of the novel is more disciplined and experimental than might be imagined; full of neat little structural touches. In particular, the use of narrative angle, exchanging the innocenct naivety of Rosemary for a hardened Richard Diver (via the pivot of a time shift) is superbly effective at shattering the illusion of the Diver's marriage. Symbolic hints of violence and collapse in the first half betray the work's complexity.
It is above all about exile. The geographical exile of expatriates conceals a more profound spiritual and social exile in a self-contained, decadant lifestyle, a self-perpetuating myth of glamour and wealth which leaves those taken in broken or hollowed out. Nicole's schizophrenia is symbolic of the break between illusion and reality which curses them all.
A damning portrait, then, from one of the greatest writers of this fine era in American literature of his Age. Vital for any serious student of this period (Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Faulkner, Wolfe, Dos Passos etc) and an intense, worthwhile experience for anyone reading for pleasure.