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January 31, 2014

Anne Hathaway, “Tender Is the Night”

by Brendan

Don’t let the title of this post fool you — Anne Hathaway the actress and Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender Is the Night are two separate things, linked only by the fact that both of them are happening in my life this week.

Anne Hathaway

Anne Hathaway

First, Anne Hathaway: been aware of her for awhile, but she didn’t really show up on the radar until I saw Les Miserables, which I wouldn’t necessarily recommend (though I’m glad I watched until the end, as long as it took to get to the end).  Hathaway, as you all know, won the Best Support Actress Oscar last year for her role of Fantine — yes, it’s a showy role, and yes, Susan Boyle sang that song, “I Dreamed a Dream,” on her way to fame.  But Hathaway was great and imho deserved the Oscar.

Which led me to look her up on IMDB (Internet Movie Databse) and Netflix, where I rented Rachel Getting Married.  She’s not Rachel, who is her sister getting married.  Hathaway plays Kym, the black sheep sister who’s spent the past 10 years in and out or rehab, and who comes home for the wedding, where she encounters (surprise!) all sorts of difficulties adjusting to family life.

Again, Kym is the showy role — though playing Rachel presents its own kind of challenge, I guess.  And the movie deals seriously with recovery, in its ongoing nature (several scenes with recovery meetings) and in its challenges (like, for Kym, feeling that she’s onstage, that everyone knows her private business).

Which brings me, by commodious vicus of recirculation, to Tender Is the Night.  I’ve developed a recent interest in the 1920s, having read Amanda Vaill’s stunning 1998 book, Everybody Was So Young, of which I acquired a signed first edition.  Anyway, Gerald and Sarah Murphy are the key subjects for Vaill’s book, in that they’re the prototypes for Nicole and Dick Diver in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s famous novel.

Tender Is the Night Book Cover

Tender Is the Night Book Cover

I first read Tender Is the Night in my early 20s, when I was living in Paris.  I’m so glad I’m re-reading it, because a lot went over my head the first time, when I was so young.  It’s about writing, alcoholism and madness, and the way Fitzgerald brings the subject of Nicole’s madness into view is technically masterful (and the subject of madness is, along with alcoholism no doubt connected to his own autobiography, with his well-known drinking problems and his wife Zelda’s madness).

Alcoholism, Recovery, Madness.  Poor Scott Fitzgerald, Sounds as if Tender Is the Night deserves its own post.

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