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Tender Is the Night

haute bourgeoisie, The Composition of ‘Tender Is the Night’

a novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, published in 1934 and, in a revised version by Malcolm Cowley, in 1948. Set, predominantly, on the French Riviera during the 1920s, the novel is both a social history of American expatriate life in France after the First World War and a study of the decline of an individual, Dick Diver, a gifted psychiatrist, whose marriage to the wealthy Nicole Warren (who is brought to him for treatment after an incestuous relationship with her father) precipitates his degeneration. Fitzgerald said of the novel that he wanted to ‘show a man who is a natural idealist…giving in for various causes to the ideas of the haute bourgeoisie, and in his rise to the top of the social world losing his idealism, his talent, and turning to drink and dissipation’, though some critics have argued that Diver's ‘fall’ is insufficiently motivated and explained.

The novel took some eight years to write, but Fitzgerald seems to have been dissatisfied with it. His notebooks indicate revisions to the text, primarily structural, that he might have effected and it was in the light of Fitzgerald's suggestions that the critic Malcolm Cowley edited the revised edition of 1948. Where Fitzgerald's original text utilized a fragmented, achronological construction (for example, in the beginning, the life of the Divers on the Riviera is seen through the eyes of Rosemary Hoyt, a young actress with whom Dick has an affair), the revised edition assembles the story in a chronological sequence of events; critical opinion tends to favour the original edition. See The Composition of ‘Tender Is the Night’ (1963) by Matthew J. Bruccoli, and ‘Tender Is the Night’: A Critical Guide (1986) by Kathleen Parkinson.

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Sir Rabindranath Tagore Biography to James Thomson Biography