Thirty-Eight Year Old – Dick Diver


At first he thought nothing. She was young and magnetic, but so was Topsy. He guessed that she had had lovers and had loved them in the last four years. Well, you never knew exactly how much space you occupied in people’s lives. Yet from this fog his affection emerged – the best contacts are when one knows the obstacles and still wants to preserve a relation. The past drifted back and he wanted to hold her eloquent giving-of-herself in its precious shell, till he enclosed it, till it no longer existed outside him. He tried to collect all that might attract her – it was less than it had been four years ago. Eighteen might look at thirty-four through a rising mist of adolescence; but twenty-two would see thirty-eight with discerning clarity. Moreover, Dick had been at an emotional peak at the time of the previous encounter; since then there had been a lesion of enthusiasm.

F.Scott Fitzgerald, Tender is the Night 

Published in: 38 Years Old | on August 6th, 2010 | 3 Comments »

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3 Comments Leave a comment.

  1. On August 6, 2010 at 07:36 Wayne Said:

    The Great Gatsby may be Fitzgerald’s greatest novel, but Tender is the Night is arguably more affecting. And Dick Diver is surely one of the most heartbreakingly flawed characters in literature. Read it and weep.

  2. On August 6, 2010 at 13:42 Wayne Said:

    Colm – completely agree re diving board scene. Absolutely devastating. For me though, this is the “killer blow”:

    “Approaching noiselessly she saw him behind his cottage, sitting in a steamer chair by the cliff wall, and for a moment she regarded him silently. He was thinking, he was living a world completely his own and in the small motions of his face, the brow raised or lowered, the eyes narrowed or widened, the lips set and reset, the play of his hands, she saw him progress from phase to phase of his own story spinning out inside him, his own, not hers. Once he clenched his fists and leaned forward, once it brought into his face an expression of torment and despair – when this passed its stamp lingered in his eyes. For almost the first time in her life she was sorry for him…”

    Brilliant writing.

    Mark – Tender is the Night was written in 1932/33 which would’ve made Fitzgerald around the same age as Dick is here. A sobering thought, no?

    And, yeah, I’ve heard something similar to that about books in margins but didn’t know – or had forgotten – it was Amis’ suggestion. Wasn’t it something like, biographies should list what their subjects were reading at the time? Or am I just confusing things? Either way, it’s a great idea.

  3. On May 28, 2012 at 06:42 Wayne Said:

    I read and discussed the above extract(s) with Read Me Something You Love:

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