One thing I especially love about the film is its soundtrack. Setting the story to a backdrop of current music (Jay-Z, Lana Del Rey, Jack White) is true to Fitzgerald’s own inclusion of pop culture in his work. That’s why this week’s playlists—that’s right, two—for Fitzgerald’s novel, Tender is the Night, cover both the author’s own musical choices and a more modern soundtrack of my own making.
But first a little more about Gatsby, arguably Fitzgerald’s most popular novel.
Raise your hand if the book was assigned to you in high school.
Now raise your hand if your Junior-year English class watched this 1974 film adaptation after reading the book:
I’m guessing not many people were assigned this Gatsby film:
As far as I can tell, the above 1926 silent film footage is part of the oldest film adaptation of Gatsby. If you’ve found something older, or found a more complete version of this film, do me a favor and pretty please scroll to the bottom of the page and leave the link in the comments. It would make me happy like this:
But Gatsby is a far cry from being the only solid work of fiction Ol’ Fitzy put together.
This is my roundabout way of telling you that Tender is the Night is also awesome.
It even has a movie, too (and a title song by Tony Bennett, included in the playlist):
(You can also watch the full film for free here, if you’re lucky enough to understand the language it’s dubbed in [i.e. if you’re not me].)
Tender is the Night was Fitzgerald’s first post-Gatsby—and final completed—novel. I think Fitzgerald himself said it best when he said of Tender is the Night, “If you liked The Great Gatsby, for God’s sake read this. Gatsby was a tour de force but this is a confession of faith.”
This is the book that Fitzgerald toiled over for nearly a decade. It is, as Scribner says, a look into “the author’s soul.”
This scene from the 1994 musical Zelda touches on the semi-autobiographical nature of the novel:
In some ways Tender is the Night follows a similar plot arc to Gatsby. It goes something like this[SPOILER ALERT!]:
Beginning: Happy boozy funtimes! In the sun! On the beach!
Tender is the Night, and its playlist(s), is summery and lusty (beach read, anyone?), brooding and heart-broken. The novel explores the power struggles inherent in any relationship, but exposes Fitzgerald’s gooey, hopelessly romantic core. If you love The Great Gatsby, you have to read Tender is the Night. I insist.
Brenna Dixon is a native Floridian with an MFA in Creative Writing and Environment from Iowa State University, where she teaches Composition and Fiction. Her fiction and nonfiction can be found in Southeast Review, South Dakota Review, Burrow Press Review, and other journals. She’s currently searching for a home for Game of Bodies, a collection of stories, and will return to her native land as a 2014 Artist-in-Residence at Everglades National Park.