Friday, March 1, 2013

The Great Gatsby

The exemplary novel of the Jazz Age, F. Scott Fitzgeralds' third book, The Great Gatsby (1925), stands as the supreme achievement of his career. T. S. Eliot read it three times and saw it as the "first step" American fiction had taken since Henry James; H. L. Mencken praised "the charm and beauty of the writing," as well as Fitzgerald's sharp social sense; and Thomas Wolfe hailed it as Fitzgerald's "best work" thus far. The story of the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, of lavish parties on Long Island at a time when, The New York Times remarked, "gin was the national drink and sex the national obsession," it is an exquisitely crafted tale of America in the 1920s that resonates with the power of myth. A novel of lyrical beauty yet brutal realism, of magic, romance, and mysticism, The Great Gatsby is one of the great classics of twentieth-century literature.


F. Scott Fitzgerald tells the story of a summer past, a summer that changed lives. A season of mayhem, mischief, and murder. A time where everything changes. A time of The Great Gatsby.

As I read The Great Gatsby (a very short and enjoyable novel), I couldn't help but stop on every other page with a smile and a sigh, re-reading his wonderful sentences. It was an English Major's dream novel and I can't believe that I had never read it before as Fitzgerald stole my heart with his prose.

The characters in the novel were much more complex than Fitzgerald describes. At certain points I felt like he was trying to trick the reader into believing something that wasn't true. The story itself isn't very dependable in nature. After all, the narrator (Nick) is a third party and doesn't involve himself in what takes place in the novel. He always seems to be on the outside, looking in. The fact that the reader doesn't get to form a real bond with Nick, takes away his reliability. It's like believing a stranger. But then again, why would a stranger lie? Same question applies to Nick. Why would he lie to the reader? He has no reason to, though we, as readers, have no reason to trust him. 

See what I mean about tricky? 

Jay Gatsby is the main character, a heartsick fool who will do anything to win Daisy's hand because he fell in love with her years before. He won't even stop when legality becomes an issue. He wants everyone to love him, but in the end -- no one does. He never formed relationships with anyone around him. He was too busy trying to make everyone happy and it left him alone at his own funeral. (Can you tell I felt more than just sorry for the poor Great Gatsby?) I think readers will be ambivalent toward Mr. Gatsby. He's not a very likeable character, though, the novel makes you feel as if you should like him. But, even Nick dislikes Gatsby, though he refers to him as a close friend. It's all set up to force the reader to see between the lines. Fitzgerald wants his audience to explore the story, not just read it.

Though the novel is tricky, and seemingly surface related when it comes to the characters, Fitzgerald touches the hearts of the deeper readers, allowing them to delve into the characters and read into what makes them tick. Fantastic hidden foundations of friendships lay within those pages. And that is simply marvelous.

Rating: 3.5/5 Cups

1 comment:

  1. “I couldn't help but stop on every other page with a smile and a sigh, re-reading his wonderful sentences.”I am very impressed with this post and I would like to read this book.