Jenn’s Review of the Great Gatsby

The cover of the first edition of The Great Ga...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am so glad that I reread The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald…and to think, this time I didn’t need Cliff Notes…and I chose to write about it vs. being forced to by my high school English teacher.

Whereas this book seemed to have a slow start for me, it wasn’t long before I was sucked into the characters’ strife. I remembered nothing of the plot from when I read it almost 20years ago, so I didn’t recognize that every single action taken by Gatsby was in a desperate attempt to win back the love of his life, Daisy Buchanan.

I found it quite sad. Gatsby had built up this tragic love affair in his mind and let it perpetuate over 5years. There must have been moments…when Daisy tumbled short of his dreams – not through her own fault, but because of the colossal vitality of his illusion. It had gone beyond her, beyond everything. He had thrown himself into it with a creative passion, adding to it all the time, decking it out with every bright feather that drifted his way. No amount of fire or freshness can challenge what a man will store up in his ghostly heart.

Love was his motivation for his frantic climb up the rungs of the social ladder. Once he got to the top, countless strangers latched on to him and his new-found notoriety. They were just as eager to talk behind his back as they were to take advantage of his generosity…and free champagne.

F.Scott Fitzgerald was just as much an artist as he was an author. His elaborate vocabulary painted such a vivid picture that the reader feels they are in the midst of the story. I loved his description of Daisy…For a moment the last sunshine fell with romantic affection upon her glowing face; her voice compelled me forward breathlessly as I listened – then the glow faded, each light deserting her with lingering regret, like children leaving a pleasant street at dusk.

One can also palpate the critique of what he portrays as the financially privileged…with their shallowness and lack of social responsibility. They smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made…

I found the narrator, Nick, to be a little on the weak side. He didn’t seem to have much substance at all. I’d imagine that the author did that on purpose…maybe he didn’t want to overshadow the other main characters. He was just there to create that bridge between Gatsby and the Buchanans.

I’d recommend that anyone who read it in high school reread it. It’s amazing how much more perspective you gain with life experience. If you never read it, it’s worth crossing it off your “classic” bucket list.

Book of the Month – The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

BBB has decided to choose a classic for September, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I’m pretty sure most of us read this in high school but I know that I am excited to see if 20 years will add some perspective. It should also be a different experience this time as I would be reading it for pleasure and not as a means to pass 11th Grade English. Mr Schlegel would be proud ;-).

The Great Gatsby, arguably Fitzgerald’s finest work and certainly the book for which he is best known. A portrait of the Jazz Age in all of its decadence and excess, Gatsby captured the spirit of the author’s generation and earned itself a permanent place in American mythology. Self-made, self-invented millionaire Jay Gatsby embodies some of Fitzgerald’s–and his country’s–most abiding obsessions: money, ambition, greed, and the promise of new beginnings. “Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic 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 farther…. And one fine morning–” Gatsby’s rise to glory and eventual fall from grace becomes a kind of cautionary tale about the American Dream.

It’s also a love story, of sorts, the narrative of Gatsby’s quixotic passion for Daisy Buchanan. The pair meet five years before the novel begins, when Daisy is a legendary young Louisville beauty and Gatsby an impoverished officer. They fall in love, but while Gatsby serves overseas, Daisy marries the brutal, bullying, but extremely rich Tom Buchanan. After the war, Gatsby devotes himself blindly to the pursuit of wealth by whatever means–and to the pursuit of Daisy, which amounts to the same thing. “Her voice is full of money,” Gatsby says admiringly, in one of the novel’s more famous descriptions. His millions made, Gatsby buys a mansion across Long Island Sound from Daisy’s patrician East Egg address, throws lavish parties, and waits for her to appear. When she does, events unfold with all the tragic inevitability of a Greek drama, with detached, cynical neighbor Nick Carraway acting as chorus throughout. Spare, elegantly plotted, and written in crystalline prose, The Great Gatsby is as perfectly satisfying as the best kind of poem.