In 1922, F. Scott Fitzgerald announced his decision to write "something new
--something extraordinary and beautiful and simple + intricately patterned." That extraordinary, beautiful, intricately patterned, and above all, simple novel became 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.
From Publishers Weekly
Readers in that sizeable group of people who think The Great Gatsby is the Great American Novel will be delighted with Robbins's subtle, brainy and immensely touching new reading. There have been audio versions of Gatsby before this-by Alexander Scourby and Christopher Reeve, to name two-but actor/director Robbins brings a fresh and bracing vision that makes the story gleam. From the jaunty irony of the title page quote ("Lover, gold-hatted, high-bouncing lover, I must have you!") to the poetry of Fitzgerald's ending about "the dark fields of the republic" and "boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past," Robbins conjures up a sublime portrait of a lost world. And as a bonus, the excellent audio actor Robert Sean Leonard reads a selection of Fitzgerald's letters to editors, agents and friends which focus on the writing and selling of the novel. Listeners will revel in learning random factoids, e.g., in 1924, Scott and Zelda were living in a Rome hotel that cost just over $500 a month, and he was respectfully suggesting that his agent Harold Ober ask $15,000 from Liberty magazine for the serial rights to Gatsby.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.