Generally considered to be F. Scott Fitzgerald's finest novel, The Great Gatsby is a consummate summary of the "roaring twenties", and a devastating expose of the "Jazz Age". Through the narration of Nick Carraway, the reader is taken into the superficially glittering world of the mansions which lined the Long Island shore in the 1920s, to encounter Nick's cousin Daisy, her brash but wealthy husband Tom Buchanan, Jay Gatsby and the mystery that surrounds him.
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Not bad story and not bad writing, but nothing special. And good books are timeless, this one belongs to an age and a place.more
I just feel so... ambivalent about it.more
Upon reading it again, this time for teaching gr12 English, I was able to appreciate the character development, the symbolism, and themes even more. A great classic -- short and easy to read, too!more
Anyway, if you're one of those that thinks "Great American Novels" are boring and mere long passages of description, read this one, you'll be pleasantly surprised. And if you like satire, this is the benchmark for that genre.
I'm still not convinced though that this is "The Great American Novel", as others are enclined to label it. Personally, I'm still partial to East of Eden and Grapes of Wrath, which I think more encompasses the American experience.more
Just like the other Fitzgeralds I've read, "The Great Gatsby" is full of unlikeable, annoying characters, but the prose in this novel(la) makes up for that. Maybe the fact that it's short helps, too, as one doesn't have what seems like FOREVER to stew about their idiocies.more
I seem to remember reading Tender Is The Night years ago, but can remember next to nothing about it. I suspect that Fitzgerald, like Jane Austen, is one of those authors you can be too young to read, and tragically, they are also the sort of authors that are given to kids as required reading.
But as for The Great Gatsby, it's a wonderful take on ambitions, dreams, and the semi-permeable boundaries of class. Gatsby lives alone in his massive house in West Egg, hosting lavish parties, and is an object of fascination to new arrival Nick Carraway, who lives in a small house next door. Gatsby, who trails an aura of vague notoriety wherever he goes, is in love with the glamorous Daisy, who is seemingly unhappily married to the stymied, bullying, unfaithful Tom. Tragedy ensues.
The thing that struck me most is how exquisitely filtered everything is. We follow Nick as these characters open up to him, like Chinese dolls, revealing different facets of themselves as everything rushes to its denouement. They are faithless and shallow, and it is Gatsby, the fraud and criminal, who at least sticks true to his doomed dream. For such a small book, it really delivers pounds per punch.more
The ending was somewhat satisfying, though it was for reasons other than what people might think. I think the characterization of Daisy was appropriate, which was my biggest concern, and Gatsby also felt a lot more vulnerable at the end, than just this incredibly aloof millionaire.more
My tattered paperback from college is littered with lecture notes that seemed irrelevant now. This time I felt that all that analysis (symbolism etc.) had missed just how entertaining, intelligent and esp. how drily funny Fitzgerald was. The writing is almost ridiculously perfect. Most writing feels word processed to the point of good enough for now, but this - you could chisel it in marble and wrap it around the base of the Chrysler building. Presto, eternal to monument to New York striving. Tom Wolfe who?
Were the 20s/30s the high point of the novel? This short novel feels incredibly modern, like it could have been written today. The voice reminded me of books I've read recently, and not just Fitzgerald pastiches like Netherland & Rules of Civility.
The only thing that dates it, really, are the occasional mentions of old technology. (Even Tom Buchanan's shocking racism seems as relevant as ever.) Movies of the 20s look like cave paintings by comparison. Nearly a century old and still so fresh.
I really need to read something else by FSF soon.more
wow, what a difference 2 decades makes.
the prose is just lovely, and Fitzgerald had a marvelous talent at metaphor (descriptive and lush, without being too damn clever for its own good). it's a relatively simple story of love and yearning for things you can't have (or never could), and i guess my teenager brain wasn't emotionally mature enough for subtle glances across the room and quiet desperation.more
There are a lot of rather unpleasant characters, but they're never entirely indecipherable, you might not have done the same thing as they did, but you can understand why they make the decisions they have made. Nick comes out of it as a very decent man, but with his feet on the ground. Gatsby, in contrast, comes across as, at heart, equally as decent, but with his head in the clouds. He's managed, by his own effort, to transform his life and prospects (not always legally is the implication) but he has a dream. He met Daisy while a young army officer, but he had no money or security to offer her such that he considered himself committed to her. As he left for the war, she gradually drifted away from him and back to the dazzling, shallow, lifestyle of parties and attachments that she'd known before. She eventually marries Tom. I felt it was, in some ways a meeting of two equally rich, shallow people and they deserved each other. But it never stayed that simple. Gatsby has lived on the dream of her that existed 5 years ago. She never existed as he imagines her and the attempts to recapture the past fail dismally. On his side, the reality fails to live up to the dream, on her side, she has neither the courage of her convictions or the depth of feeling to actually do anything that's not just a case of following the path of least resistance.
It ends, badly, as it would when a dream comes face to face with reality and the reality fails to live up to the expectation. Unfortunately, it takes a number of people down with it, but those who deserve their comeuppance seem to escape scot free. But it's not a depressing end. It is as if the dream was too big to live. nick, as the sort of man he is, tidies everything up and keeps what he knows to himself. But he has become disillusioned with the life he has been trying to lead and so heads back to the Mid west and his natural habitat.
It is a very vivid book, you can easily imagine the parties and the surroundings that the story is set in. Having said that, the people don;t seem to be described in any detail - but they stand as individuals in my imagination. It's not a long book, there's little in the way of padding and spare text - it should serve as a model to some of the overblown texts I've read recently in the art of concision. It doesn't take more than a few words to bring the entire thing into vivid life. You can't help feeling for the characters, even while you don't really like them - which takes a really great writer to achieve. This is very good.more
"Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter--tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms further... And one fine morning--
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past." more