Essay on Tender Is the Night Parallels Fitzgerald’s Life

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Tender Is the Night Parallels Fitzgerald’s Life

Away! Away! for I will fly to thee,

Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards,

But on the viewless wings of Poesy

Though the dull brain perplexes and retards:

Already with thee! Tender is the night…

-From “Ode to a Nightingale” by John Keats

Charles Scribner III in his introduction to the work remarks that “the title evokes the transient, bittersweet, and ultimately tragic nature of Fitzgerald’s ‘Romance’ (as he had originally subtitled the book)” (Fitzgerald ix). Tender Is the Night parallels Fitzgerald’s own struggles with his mentally ill Zelda, and the characters are carefully constructed from his interactions with the social elite of artists,
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The matricide piece came from his fascination with the 1925 case of Dorothy Ellington, a sixteen-year-old from San Francisco, who killed her mother who did not approve of her wild lifestyle (Bruccoli 18 “The Comp…”); Mularky’s profession, movie director, most likely originated from Fitzgerald’s interaction in Rome in 1924 with crew from the movie Ben-Hur (Bruccoli 22 “The Comp…”). From 1925 to 1930, this “Mularky” version underwent five revisions with titles such as Our Type, The World’s Fair, The Mularky Case, and The Boy Who Killed His Mother.

In 1926, All the Sad Young Men was published, and in 1927 he went to Hollywood to work for United Artists, where he met an attractive actress named Lois Moran (Stern xi). This Hollywood experience fueled the sixth revision of his fourth novel, about a movie director named Lew Kelly, his wife Nicole and a young actress named Rosemary. Fitzgerald in the summer of 1929 informed Scribner’s about this new idea and by the fall said that he only had another month to devote to the novel before he would be finished (Bruccoli 60 “The Comp…). He scrapped the sixth version fairly quickly, but Rosemary grew out of this short-lived version (Bruccoli xxiii “The Comp…”). Over the latter half of the Twenties, Zelda illustrated signs of psychotic behavior, such as her ballet obsession. In 1930, while the Fitzgeralds lived in Paris after the Great Depression, Zelda broke down completely

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