Tender Is the Night

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Life's greatest happiness is to be convinced we are loved.
Victor Hugo
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Tender is the Night (1934) by F. Scott Fitzgerald is the story of the rise and pitiful fall of Dick Diver, a promising young psychoanalyst and his wife, Nicole, who is also one of his patients. It is commonly assumed that the plot is modeled on the author's own life and his relationship with his wife Zelda, who struggled with mental illness throughout their marriage.

  • "But to be included in Dick Diver’s world for a while was a remarkable experience: people believed he made special reservations about them, recognizing the proud uniqueness of their destinies, buried under the compromises of how many years. He won everyone quickly with an exquisite consideration and a politeness that moved so fast and intuitively that it could be examined only in its effect. Then, without caution, lest the first bloom of the relation wither, he opened the gate to his amusing world. So long as they subscribed to it completely, their happiness was his preoccupation, but at the first flicker of doubt as to its all-inclusiveness he evaporated before their eyes, leaving little communicable memory of what he had said or done."
    • Book I, Chapter 7
    • A portrait of the novel's hero.
  • "Nicole was the product of much ingenuity and toil. For her sake trains began their run at Chicago and traversed the round belly of the continent to California; chicle factories fumed and link belts grew link by link in factories; men mixed toothpaste in vats and drew mouthwash out of copper hogsheads; girls canned tomatoes quickly in August or worked rudely at Five-and-Tens on Christmas Eve; half-breed Indians toiled on Brazilian coffee plantations and dreamers were muscled out of patent rights in new tractors—these were some of the people who gave a tithe to Nicole, and as the whole system swayed and thundered onward it lent a feverish bloom to such processes of hers as wholesale buying, like a flush of a fireman’s face holding his post before a spreading blaze. She illustrated very simple principles, containing in herself her own doom, but illustrated them so accurately that there was grace in the procedure, and presently Rosemary would try to imitate it."
    • Book I, Chapter 12
    • A portrait of the novel's heroine.
  • "All my beautiful lovely safe world blew itself up here with a great gust of high explosive love."
    • Book I, Chapter 13
    • Dick musing on WWI.
  • "I like France, where everybody thinks he’s Napoleon—down here everybody thinks he’s Christ.”
    • Book II, Chapter ???
    • Dick on Italy.
  • "An overwhelming desire to help, or to be admired, came over him."
    • Book II, Chapter 19
    • Dick's essential trait.
  • "“Think how you love me,” she whispered. “I don’t ask you to love me always like this, but I ask you to remember. Somewhere inside me there’ll always be the person I am to-night.”" -- Nicole

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