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4 - ‘Some Fault in the Plan’: Fitzgerald's Critique of Psychiatry in Tender Is the Night

William Blazek
Affiliation:
Liverpool Hope University
Laura Rattray
Affiliation:
University of Hull
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Summary

My contention in this essay is that the role of psychiatry in Tender Is the Night is best understood as a critique of the profession as it evolved in the early twentieth century into an authoritative scientific method for treating and explaining psychic and social fragmentation. I hope to show that especially in the representation of Doctor Richard Diver a sometimes ambiguous but generally critical stance towards psychiatry's influence on Western civilization is presented by Fitzgerald, tempered by sympathy for Diver in his misguided faith in the profession's promise to control life's contingencies. Moreover, I want to argue – through cultural context, biographical evidence, and textual analysis – in favour of Malcolm Bradbury's more general view of the novel as a ‘great psycho-historical portrait of the age’, which he associates with earlier efforts by Thomas Mann in The Magic Mountain (1925) and Ford Madox Ford in The Good Soldier (1915) (356). This reading differs from the early feminist approach of Judith Fetterley and the character study by Jeffrey Berman, mainly in the degree to which social and historical forces are shown to infuse the novel and add layered meanings to Fitzgerald's delineation of medical practice and its influence.

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Publisher: Liverpool University Press
Print publication year: 2007

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