Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Tender is the Author

In 1934 Charles Scribner's Sons published F. Scott Fitzgerald's  Tender is the Night. It was hoped the novel would return Fitzgerald to the spotlight nine years after the publication of The Great Gatsby.

But you get the feeling Scribner's knew that their fragile author would need some help generating sales: to stimulate interest,  they chose to serialize the novel. It came out in four consecutive issues of Scribner's Magazine between January and April 1934, with the first book edition appearing in April. In the depths of the Great Depression, the voice of the Jazz Age and the Roaring Twenties was not the first place people turned for relevancy. But by putting Fitzgerald alongside Gilbert Seldes, Thomas Wolfe, John Strachey, Lincoln Steffens, Stuart Chase and William Lyon Phelps, the magazine sought to make him new again.

The novel was not well received. Sales were disappointing and the flashback narrative must have been particularly difficult when spread over four monthly installments. The magazine tried to push the book. The blurb in the March issue proclaimed:
Both popular and critical verdicts are that Scott Fitzgerald's novel becomes more exciting as it goes along. How Richard Diver extricates himself from the extraordinary situation in which he finds himself is revealed in these last chapters of one of the big novels of the year.
To see the serialized copy, ask for Rare PS3511.I9 T4 1934b.

No comments :

Post a Comment