When it comes to Fitzgerald, very few of us cannot fall in love with his masterful command of the English language but also the manner in which he presents bourgeois, care-free people doing nothing with their lives but engaging in meaningless socializing with their peers. Still, what a thrill!
The charm and delicacy of Fitzgerald’s “Tender is The Night”, which perhaps is his best novel after the famous, or rather infamous “Great Gatsby”, is in fact just that. A story where grand delusions of romantic love intermingle with imperceptible narcissism, to give birth to a beautiful myriad of ‘have-beens’ and ‘gonna-bees’ in the world of the extravagantly wealthy. Is this a novel just about rich people? Yes, but to be honest it is so much more.
The narrative which seems seemingly simple follows the dull, and sometimes full lives of Nicole and Dick Diver a couple that intermingle with a younger woman by the name of Rosemary Hoyt, which happens to be a famous actress in the movies, yes that is right the silent movies. Well, the young Hoyt falls in love for Dick Diver, they have an affair, just to keep their empty lives happy.
Just so she won’t be left behind, with her cynicism, Nicole Diver also falls in love with another man, and they have an affair, which leads to her leaving Dick after being sure he was having an affair with the promiscuous young Rosemary Hoyt. Talk about problems. Oh yeah, I also forgot to mention that Nicole was Dick’s schizophrenic patient that he treated for a number of years before they fell in love.
Yet this novel, rather this romance as Fitzgerald called it is an interesting look at the manner in which people search for meaning and love in others, and only end up more depressed and saddened by the fact that they cannot find it. It is in fact a quest for validation in the most wrong way possible, which leads to some pretty sad feelings. For a romance in fact this book is filled with the fake notion of love, while its lines protrude the conceptions of lust, and sexual escapades.
The question that Fitzgerald forces on us however is :How far is one willing to go to find his/her happiness in meaningless social situations? There is a certain sense of nihilism in this novel, that cannot escape the eyes or imagination of the reader. Dick only marries Nicole for her money, despite the fact that she is a bit emotionally and mentally unstable for that matter.
Nicole knows this deep down but accepts it because Dick is a charming, handsome young man. Rosemary Hoyt knows nothing of what she wants despite the fact that she is described as someone who fell in love with Dick on first sight. Despite these romantic undertones, the shallow perspectives of people who engage in romanticism is cardinal to the narrative.
Fitzgerald perhaps most importantly sets his literary tone for his unfinished novel: “The Last Tycoon”, which totally circles around the movie industry in Hollywood, but interestingly develops the same kind of ideas about shallow love, and spurious relationships.