Thursday, March 18, 2010

Electra complex, much?

Current book: Tender Is the Night
Pages read: 131 - 193

You'll note from the random gap in my pages read that this book is divided into sections (also called "books," of course - I sort of hate it when they do that) that have a couple of blank pages between them. Why? No one knows.

After the little problem in Paris, instead of going on with the plot, Fitzgerald gives us some back story on Nicole and Dick. It turns out that Dick isn't a surgeon or general practitioner, but rather a psychiatrist. He met Nicole at a sanitarium in Zurich (Where she was brought by her father after several years of failed treatments, and which she needed, we eventually discover, because he had incestuous relations with her. Ew.) that was run by a friend of his, and she promptly fell in love with him, exhibiting classic signs of transference. (According to Fitzgerald's psychiatrist character, not me. He also calls her a schizophrenic, and I'm thinking "no" on that, since she doesn't seem to have breaks with reality, but whatever.) Anyway, she corresponded with him throughout her recuperation, and, as she improved and became rational and coherent, he started to fall in love with her, too. Later, upon his return to Zurich, he was too attracted to her to heed the warnings of his friend, and, though he tried to distance himself from her, eventually married her. Which brings us to where we are today - their marriage is clearly flawed and based on Nicole's dependent adoration of him - now that the bloom, as it were, is off the rose, and he's no longer infatuated with her youth and neediness, he wants young, needy Rosemary instead. After Rosemary leaves them in Paris, he and Nicole go home so that Nicole can recuperate, since she was so upset about the fact that he was dancing attendance on another woman. After a couple of months she is, it seems, perfectly ok, and the two head to the Swiss Alps to celebrate Christmas. (Do I think they'll meet Rosemary there, by a neat and tidy coincidence? You bet I do.)

Dick has a little moment during Nicole's recuperation in which he recalls the warnings of his psychiatrist friend, who told him he'd feel trapped by having to care for her the rest of her life. It happens this way: he wants to play a song that Rosemary sang on the piano, but after beginning, checks himself when he realizes that Nicole will associate it with his infidelity. Because of that, he thinks to himself how constrained he's become, since he can't even play what he wants to play on the piano. Ok, there, Dick. The problem is not that you're trapped by your mentally fragile wife; the problem is that you want to commit adultery and she feels betrayed. I don't think that she's the one with the issue, here.

I was entertained by the explanation of the interesting history of Nicole and Dick. It was a nice change of pace from wandering around European cities partying and declaring forbidden love. Of course, I'm pretty sure we'll be back to that now that we've covered the scandal and madness, but you never know. I'm considerably more than half done, so I'm expecting Fitzgerald to kill someone off at any moment.

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