Tender is the Night

Introduction

Tender Is the Night is a novel by American writer F. Scott Fitzgerald. It was his fourth and final completed novel, and was first published in Scribner's Magazine between January–April 1934 in four issues. The title is taken from the poem "Ode to a Nightingale" by John Keats.

In 1932, Fitzgerald's wife Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald was hospitalized for schizophrenia in Baltimore, Maryland. The author rented the La Paix estate in the suburb of Towson to work on this book, the story of the rise and fall of Dick Diver, a promising young psychoanalyst, and his wife, Nicole, who is also one of his patients. It was Fitzgerald's first novel in nine years, and the last that he would complete. The book reveals the detrimental days of Fitzgerald's past as he lives out his last remaining years with his wife, Zelda. The novel almost mirrors the events that take places as characters are pulled and put back into mental care, and the male figure, Dick Diver, starts his descent into alcoholism. While working on the book, several times he ran out of cash and had to borrow from his editor and agent and write short stories for commercial magazines. The early 1930s, when Fitzgerald was conceiving and working on the book, were the darkest years of his life and, accordingly, the novel has its very bleak elements that he experienced himself.

Two versions of this novel are in print. The first version, published in 1934, uses flashbacks; the second, revised version, prepared by Fitzgerald's friend and noted critic Malcolm Cowley on the basis of notes for a revision left by Fitzgerald, is ordered chronologically and was first published posthumously in 1948. Critics have suggested that Cowley's revision was undertaken due to negative reviews of the temporal structure of the first version of the book.

Fitzgerald considered Tender Is the Night to be his greatest work. Although it received a tepid response upon release, it has grown in acclaim over the years and is widely regarded as among Fitzgerald's best work. In 1998, the Modern Library ranked the novel 28th on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.


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