Monday, March 30, 2009

Cultural References in Literature – Tender is the Night

Brad Pitt as Benjamin, is a creation of F. Scott Fitzgerald. The Great Gatsby is a book that would fit better the preceding times of the crisis. “Tender is the Night,” from the same author F. Scott Fitzgerald, however is more contemporary and serving more of a niche market by offering a story of an American family in the Southern of France. There are a lot of cultural references in the book. Already on the first page, the reader is offered an indication of this when mentioning: the French Riviera, Cannes, close to the Italian border…

Rather than an extract I have gathered some quotes, some of which are cultural others are more general.

In part one.
"Her immature mind made no speculations upon the nature of their relation to each other, she was only concerned with their attitude toward herself..." (Rosemary)

“Well, I’m a soldier,… My business is to kill people.” … He had no idea what he was up against in Barban, neither of the simplicity of the other man’s bag of ideas nor of the complexity of his training (1).

… all lifted from the English with no regard paid to factors that make English philistinism and rudeness purposeful, and applied in a land [referring to the United Status] where a little knowledge and civility buy more than they do anywhere else…

(Dick, commenting on actors)
“The strongest guard is placed at the gateway to nothing,” he said. “Maybe because the condition of emptiness is too shameful to be divulged.”

Often a man can play the helpless child in front of a woman, but he can almost never bring it off when he feels most like a helpless child.

Why is it just Americans who dissipate?” (In the Spanish translation: “Why are the American always the most self destructive?”)

Part two.Receding from a grief, it seems necessary to retrace the same steps that brought us there.

“Good manners are an admission that everybody is so tender that they have to be handled with gloves. Now, human respect—you don’t call a man a coward or a liar lightly, but if you spend your life sparing people’s feelings and feeding their vanity, you get so you can’t distinguish what SHOULD be respected in them.”

“I’m sharing the fate of the women of my time who challenged men to battle.” … “You’ve suffered, but many women suffered before they mistook themselves for men.”

An Englishman spoke to him from across the aisle but he found something antipathetic in the English lately. England was like a rich man after a disastrous orgy who makes up to the household by chatting with them individually, when it is obvious to them that he is only trying to get back his self-respect in order to usurp his former power.

Yet from this fog his affection emerged—the best contacts are when one knows the obstacles and still wants to preserve a relation.

The English are the best-balanced race in the world.”

(In Italy)
“I know I wouldn’t like anything here. I like France, where everybody thinks he’s Napoleon—down here everybody thinks he’s Christ.”
(Also in Italy)
He had possessed the arrogance of a tall member of a short race, with no obligation save to be tall.

(Baby in the American consulate in Rome) But he was of the Eastern seaboard and too hard for her.
(Dick after imprisonment) No mature Aryan is able to profit by a humiliation; when he forgives it has become part of his life, he has identified himself with the thing which has humiliated him—an upshot that in this case was impossible.

Part three.(About Nicole) she only cherishes her illness as an instrument of power.

(About language)
“But the meanings are different—in French you can be heroic and gallant with dignity, and you know it. But in English you can’t be heroic and gallant without being a little absurd…

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