Read Hemingway's Tough-Love Critique of F. Scott Fitzgerald's 'Tender Is the Night'


In 1934, shortly after the publication of his fourth and final novel, Tender Is the Night , F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote to Ernest Hemingway to ask him what he thought about the book. The novel centers on Dick and Nicole Diver, a glamorous but complicated and tragic couple, based on Gerald and Sara Murphy. Hemingway responds in classic Hemingway form, with a cuff about the ears followed by a reassuring pat on the back. Interestingly, he suggests that if a writer wants to use real people in his work, he should be completely true to their characters and histories, rather than fictionalize them. He also gives some advice that we think any pretty much writer could use, our favorite being: “Forget your personal tragedy. We are all bitched from the start and you especially have to hurt like hell before you can write seriously. But when you get the damned hurt use it — don’t cheat with it. Be as faithful to it as a scientist — but don’t think anything is of any importance because it happens to you or anyone belonging to you.” Read the full text at Letters of Note and get schooled by Hemingway — a little tough love might do us all good.