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Tender Is the Night and F. Scott Fitzgerald's Sentimental Identities, Tender Is the Night and F. Scott Fitzgerald's Sentimental Identities, 0817318534, 0-8173-1853-4, 978-0-8173-1853-6, 9780817318536, , , Tender Is the Night and F. Scott Fitzgerald's Sentimental Identities, 0817387978, 0-8173-8797-8, 978-0-8173-8797-6, 9780817387976,

Tender Is the Night and F. Scott Fitzgerald's Sentimental Identities
Chris Messenger

Trade Cloth
2015. 296 pp.
Price:  $59.95 s
E Book
2014. 296 pp.
Price:  $59.95 d

In this fascinating study, Chris Messenger posits F. Scott Fitzgerald as a great master of sentiment in modern American fiction. Sentimental forms both attracted and repelled Fitzgerald while defining his deepest impulses as a prose writer. Messenger demonstrates that the sentimental identities, refractions, and influences Fitzgerald explores in Tender Is the Night define key components in his affective life, which evolved into a powerful aesthetic that informed his vocation as a modernist writer.
In “Tender Is the Night” and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Sentimental Identities, Messenger traces the roots of Fitzgerald’s writing career to the deaths of his two infant sisters a few months before his own birth. It was their loss, Fitzgerald wrote, that made him a writer. Messenger highlights how the loss of Fitzgerald’s siblings powerfully molded his relation to maternal nurturing and sympathy in Tender Is the Night as well as how it shaped the homosocial intimations of its care-giving protagonist, psychiatrist Dick Diver. A concomitant grief and mourning was fueled by Fitzgerald’s intimate and intense creative rivalry with his often-institutionalized wife, Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald.
While sentiment is a discredited strain in high modernism, Fitzgerald nevertheless embraced it in Tender Is the Night to fashion this most poignant and beautiful successor to The Great Gatsby. Fitzgerald’s aesthetic and emotional preoccupations came most vividly to life in this major novel. Messenger describes how Fitzgerald, creating his character Nicole Warren Diver as a victim of paternal incest, finally found the sentimental key to finishing his novel and uniting his vision of the two narratives of “saving” the two sisters and reimagining the agony of his wife and their marriage.
Fitzgerald’s productive quarrel with and through sentiment defines his career, and Messenger convincingly argues that Tender Is the Night should be placed alongside TheGreat Gatsby as a classic exemplar of the modern novel.

Chris Messenger is the author of two books on sport and play in American fiction as well as The Godfather and American Culture: How the Corleones Became “Our Gang.” He is a professor emeritus of English at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

"More and more critics acknowledge that Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby is not, to borrow a cliché from the music industry, a one-hit wonder.  In the last two decades especially, increasing numbers of readers have abandoned the condescension, tinged with a lingering but grudging admiration for the waning powers of a broken artist, with which earlier generations regarded Fitzgerald's other novels.  Messenger (emer., Univ. of Illinois, Chicago) singles out Tender Is the Night as Fitzgerald's "richest novel" while at the same time admitting and celebrating Fitzgerald's "running love affair and quarrel with sentiment."  Indeed, Messenger asserts that "Tender Is the Night is the psychological and sentimental key to all [Fitzgerald's] fiction," and he does so with erudite, exhaustive, and relentless authority.  Lest one imagine that Messenger's focus is too narrow, one need only consider the sheer range of his discussion, which incorporates topics as diverse as cubism, feminism, seduction, realism, incest, and Freudianism along with a surprisingly original consideration of Zelda-as-Nicole, all scrutinized under the lens of sentiment within the Fitzgerald corpus.  For Messenger, Fitzgerald's relationship to this frequently maligned literary trait reveals the genius of the author, not his weakness. Highly recommended."

“Chris Messenger provides an absorbing, imaginative, and critically cognizant reading of Fitzgerald's great novel.”
—Scott Donaldson, author of Hemingway vs. Fitzgerald: The Rise and Fall of a Literary Friendship and Fool for Love: F. Scott Fitzgerald

‘Tender Is the Night’ and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Sentimental Identities is an impressive, thorough, and exhaustive piece of scholarship that excavates an amazing amount of historical background from Fitzgerald’s fourth novel while adding immeasurably to our appreciation of its thematic texture.”
—Kirk Curnutt, author of The Cambridge Introduction to F. Scott Fitzgerald

"Every decade of so a critical study on a literary text is published and resets the agenda for the decade that will follow it. Chris Messenger's intricate and engaged sifting of F. Scott Fitzgerald's Tender is the Night is just such a book."
F. Scott Fitzgerald Review

"With this detailed, authoritative, and insightful analysis of Tender Is the Night, Chris Messenger shows convincingly why it deserves to be placed alongside The Great Gatsby as a major work of American fiction. Messenger's enthusiasm for and admiration of F. Scott Fitzgerald's artistry are apparent throughout, as are his command of the full range of Fitzgerald's fiction and of the highly original and often-surprising sources, both literary and biographical, that he cites as underlying the themes and plot in Tender. In this knowledgeable, far-ranging, and ground-breaking study, Tender Is the Night receives the informed scrutiny it has long deserved but previously has too infrequently received."
—Jackson R. Bryer, coeditor of F. Scott Fitzgerald in the Twenty-First Century and Dear Scott, Dearest Zelda: The Love Letters of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald

"Chris Messenger's intricate and engaged sifting of F. Scott Fitzgerald's Tender is the Night […] does what we expect of the best criticism: it challenges our preconceptions; it equips us with new ideas; and it returns us to the original text with renewed vigor and interest."—F. Scott Fitzgerald Review

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