Saturday, May 11, 2013

All my beautiful lovely safe world blew itself up here with a great gust of high explosive love.

There was a hint in the air that the earth was hurrying on toward other weather; the lush midsummer moment outside of time was already over.
^In Fitzgerald's words, literally what life feels like now.

I found Tender as the Night not as magical or memorable as The Great Gatsby due to the impactful brevity and established legacy of the latter and the lack of lovable characters in the former. Whereas I felt empathy for Gatsby, seldom during reading Tender is the Night did I find myself feeling genuinely sorry for Dick, Nicole or Rosemary.

Here's a quick 30% compendium of the story: Whilst holidaying in the South of France with her mother, Rosemary, a young, blooming actress, gets sucked into the exquisite and mysterious world of the Divers' (Dick Diver and his wife Nicole Diver). Diver is charming and well-mannered, so it is not long before Rosemary becomes slightly infatuated with him, and the two eventually begin a little affair... an affair that Dick originally objects to, but delves into anyway (esp. when encouraged by the stress he faces in his marriage). It is later revealed that Nicole suffers from neuroses (due to the bad relationship she had with her father when she was young) and that Dick was the doctor who attended to her back in the days. The story goes on - Nicole deteriorates and Dick deteriorates with her. Rosemary goes back to her actress-hollywood-glamorous life and Dick becomes a drunkard (by this point, needless to say, their little fling is sort of over). And... I've decided not to ruin the ending.

One writes of scars healed, a loose parallel to the pathology of the skin, but there is no such thing in the life of an individual. There are open wounds, shrunk sometimes to the size of a pin-prick but wounds still. The marks of suffering are more comparable to the loss of a finger, or the sight of an eye. We may not miss them, either, for one minute in a year, but if we should there is nothing to be done about it.
Rosemary's mother is a fascinating character;  "so long as the shuffle of love and pain went on within proper walls Mrs. Speers could view it with as much humor as a eunuch." Dick's complacency is also equally intriguing, especially in his deterioration; his politeness, as he puts it, is "a trick of the heart."

Here are the rest of the quotes:
“We are seldom sorry for those who need and crave our pity - we reserve this for those who, by other means, make us exercise the abstract function of the pity.”
Rosemary, half in the grip of fashion, became a little self-conscious, as though she were displaying an unhealthy taste for the moribund; as though people were wondering why she was here in the lull between the gaiety of last winter and next winter, while up north the true world thundered by.
He felt so intensely about people that in moments of apathy he preferred to remain concealed; that one could parade a casualness into his presence was a challenge to the key on which he lived.
"She clung nearer desperately and once more he kissed her and was chilled by the innocence of her kiss, by the glance that at the moment of contact looked beyond him out into the darkness of the night, the darkness of the world. She did not know yet that splendor is something in the heart; at the moment when she realized that and melted into the passion of the universe he could take her without question or regret."
“Most people think everybody feels about them much more violently than they actually do - they think other people's opinions of them swing through great arcs of approval or disapproval. ”