Category Archives: Books

Tender Is the Night – F. Scott Fitzgerald (Book Review)

Compared to the more popular works of F. Scott Fitzgerald, such as, for example: The Great Gatsby (currently undergoing yet another transformation from page to screen), and the short story The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, it can be argued that Tender Is the Night has been largely ignored. In fact upon release, the follow up to Fitzgerald’s seminal novel The Great Gatsby, was viewed as a failure, and although it can definitely be argued that the popularity of the publication has increased over time, the works most commonly associated with the author remain, to this day, the aforementioned pair.

One of the many interesting aspects to Tender Is the Night that also exists in many other works by Fitzgerald is the semi-autobiographical nature of its prose. This is perhaps best exemplified here by the relationship between Doctor Dick Diver and his wife, Nicole, which mirrors in part the relationship between Fitzgerald and Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald, his wife.  This parallel to real life events, and people, only helps throughout the novel to reinforce the sense of tragedy underpinning the narrative. When situations get out of hand, and relationships become skewered among the group of American and International expats, the underlying truth and emotional depth behind the text only heightens the sense of sadness and disgust the reader feels for these characters; some long suffering and others destructive and cruel in their ways.

Tender Is the Night much like The Great Gatsby, and other less significant Fitzgerald novels, adopts an elegiac tone, with the loss of innocence, and breakdown of relationships, paramount in the narrative. To compliment this the prose is packed with a poignancy that helps to reinforce the luxuriousness of the novel’s opening, and contrast this with the ensuing depths that the novel seeks fit to explore. The book is separated into three parts of about equal length, each segment containing a major event that helps to stir up the group, and drive the novel’s plot forward. It is this central construction in part that compliments the core themes of the text, with the characters drifting closer together and then further apart amidst the passing of time. The second part in particular is reserved for the origins of the Diver family, helping to fulfill the novel’s future bittersweet intentions by expanding on many of the first part’s mysteries.

Although it may be true that the characters aren’t as memorable as that of Gatsby, or even Tom Buchanan, from The Great Gatsby, the characters presented here are still engaging. Examples of this include the soldier, Tommy Barban, whose allegiance lies with no single country, Dr. Dick Diver himself, the protagonist of much of the novel, who much like Gatsby is a tragic American hero. Other memorable characters include the women of the novel, such as Mary North, Rosemary and Nicole. Nicole is arguably the most interesting character within the novel, remaining an enigma for much of the first part of the book, whilst gradually becoming more transparent as the novel progresses.

Whilst there should be no allusions that Tender is the Night will ever escape the long shadow cast by its more notable predecessor, it is definitely worth the attention. Whether you are interested in seeing how much of an author’s real life permeates into his work, or just interested in becoming absorbed in a foreign world, in this case the south of France during the 1920’s/early 1930’s, this novel offers enough to warrant, at the very least, a single read; though if necessary there is definitely enough depth to welcome a return.

5/5

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League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Vol. 1 (Graphic Novel Review)

Given the overwhelming criticism that has been directed at the film adaptation of Alan Moore’s homage to 19th Century literature you would not be blamed in opting to dismiss ‘League of Extraordinary Gentlemen’ as something of little significance or intellectual merit; though to do so would be at your own loss. Whilst the film fails in several aspects of its construction the original source material is both glowing with charm and intelligent in design, making the book a welcome addition to any comic-enthusiast’s collection.

One of the main attractions of the text that is distinctly lacking in the film is most definitely the art style and direction; the style and layout of the book deliberately reminiscent of other works from the 19th century, with additional supplementary tales and adverts found within the pages amongst the main narrative arc. This attention to detail not only helps to familiarize the reader with the period in which the plot is centered, but also creates an air of authenticity to the text that breathes life into the story. It is arguably this attention to detail taken by Moore and illustrator Kevin O’Neill that packs most of the novel’s charm, with the art style endearing throughout, whilst also expressive and brimming with action.

Although, with that being said, the story itself is not entirely without merit. Not only is the text’s plot full of twists and turns to keep the reader engaged, but also plays host to a collection of personalities to invest in, including Robert Louis Stevenson’s ‘Jekyll and Hyde’, H.G Wells’s ‘Invisible Man’, and Stoker’s ‘Mina Murray’. These personalities are themselves magnificently presented within the book, and, under the careful guidance of Moore, are the subjects of an unlikely chemistry that permeates every page.

There are however some flaws. These include, for example, the relative brevity of book for all its depth and detail. It is this deficiency in length that is perhaps the most disappointing aspect of an otherwise spectacular graphic novel from Moore and O’Neill, with the case itself to which these extraordinary gentlemen are assigned showing some significant room for expansion. The lack in length also inevitably affects the amount of time spent with each character, which does to a minimal degree hinder the characterization. This, however, is remedied by the intrigue of each specific figure, with the opium addicted Quartermain and Nemo being shining examples of this.

‘The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Vol. 1’ is definitely an important addition to the Moore canon, and is well worth reading if you are at all interested in graphic novels or just want to take a look at how spectacularly wrong film adaptations can really be. It is, however, a short read, though this is subsidized by the existence of further volumes, which will be reviewed at a later date.

5/5

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