Tender is the Night

Introduction

Tender Is the Night is the fourth and final novel completed by American writer F. Scott Fitzgerald. It was first published in Scribner's Magazine between January and 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 write this story of the rise and fall of Dick Diver, a promising young psychiatrist, 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 early 1930s, when Fitzgerald conceived the book, were the darkest years of his life, and the novel's bleakness reflects his own experiences. The novel almost mirrors the events of Fitzgerald and Zelda's lives, 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, Fitzgerald was beset with financial difficulties. He borrowed money from both his editor and his agent and wrote short stories for commercial magazines.

Two versions of the 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 books. 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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