“They were still in the happier stage of love. They were full of brave illusions about each other, tremendous illusions, so that the communion of self with self seemed to be on a plane where no other human relations mattered. They both seemed to have arrived there with extraordinary innocence as though a series of pure accidents had drive them together, so many accidents that at last they were forced to conclude that they were for each other. They had arrived with clean hands, or so it seemed, after no traffic with the merely curious and clandestine.”
“He got up, and as he absorbed the situation, his self-knowledge assured him that he would undertake to deal with it- the old fatal pleasingness, the old forceful charm, swept back with its cry of ‘Use me!’ He would have to go fix this thing that he didn’t care a damn about, because it had early become a habit to be loved, perhaps from the moment when he had realized that he was the last hope of a decaying clan… Realizing this power, he had made his choice… chosen the sweet poison and drunk it. Wanting above all to be brave and kind, he had wanted, ever more than that, to be loved. So it had been. So it would ever be…”
– from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s fourth novel, Tender Is the Night
Fitzgerald’s fourth novel is said to have been his most autobiographical and I think that’s why it is my favorite. It depicts the grandiose lives of a fictional group of social elite on the French Rivera. He wrote this story during the time he and his wife Zelda had expatriated to the very stomping grounds that this epic tale takes place. Fitzgerald put most of himself into this book through a variety of characters, but most noticeably in the protagonist who is a psychologist, Dr. Dick Diver. It is interesting that Fitzgerald portrays his “self” in Diver, and Zelda in Diver’s wife Nicole. Nicole battles with bouts of emotional chaos and hospitalization just as Zelda had during this time. The relationship between the Divers and the real-life love story between the Fitzgeralds is uncanny, right down to the intricate details of their public persona and love of parties. I simply love this story.