The Great Gatsby Paperback – September 30, 2004
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So having now read 'The Great Gatsby", I don't know how it got to be a classic.
Bad writing, long run on pompous sentences, totally boring characters and very little plot don't add up to a classic in my opinion.
Mostly it's plot, what little there is, involves some rich full of themselves people trying to score some booze and looking for a party during prohibition.
What is somewhat interesting is the description of daily life in the U.S. in the 1920s. The technology, clothes, hairstyles, and attitudes. Otherwise I would say why bother, unless you want to cross a "classic" off your reading bucket list.
Although this book is one of the greatest works of literature, it seemed Fitzgerald rushed through it too quickly, hoping to get it out onto bookshelves. The story gets muddled by Fitzgeralds historical retellings of Gatsby's past. His descriptions of Dan Cody, the yachtsman who started Gatsby's climb to wealth, seemed too superfluous. Also the chapter start introducing the list of guests who attended Gatsby's parties seemed way too lengthy and unneeded in the story. The ending where Gatsby's father arrives to tell about his son's childhood and his daily routine kind of ruined the ending for me.
Next to other great works though, this is superb storytelling!
Its sad how underappreciated Fitzgerald was during his lifetime! This guy was the Picasso of English Literature, yet he struggled all through his life just to make ends meet, unlike authors of lesser quality, like Hemingway who were dashing millionaires. Goes to show how underappreciated creative authors are next to art genius. But it's way more difficult to write a novel like this, I think, than it is to paint a Picasso.
As rare and astounding as the art of Rembrandt, Renoir and Rodin, F. Scott Fitzgerald's short novel casts a spell on me in his painting Love, Truth, Mythology and Tragedy in words so poignant, eloquent and gorgeous that I, a mere mortal, cannot do them justice, so I must quote (though I typically prefer not to):
“The loneliest moment in someone’s life is when they are watching their whole world fall apart, and all they can do is stare blankly.”
“In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars.”
“His heart beat faster and faster as Daisy’s white face came up to his own. He knew that when he kissed this girl, and forever wed his unutterable visions to her perishable breath, his mind would never romp again like the mind of God. So he waited, listening for a moment longer to the tuning fork that had been struck upon a star. Then he kissed her. At his lips’ touch she blossomed like a flower and the incarnation was complete.”
“And as I sat there brooding on the old, unknown world, I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night.
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 farther. . . . And one fine morning——
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
This is my favorite American novel.
Top international reviews
This is a tragic love story. The feelings are intense and at times you would feel so much for Gatsby. There are things you can't buy with money and that is what is shown profusely in the novel. This is a very simple story but a very very complicated one at the same time. There is a lot of symbolism that one may want to understand a bit in detail. So do a bit of research on those scenarios that the author is building. This one is a classic and will always be with me. I will always revisit this story.
Gatsby is a great character that Fitzgerald has developed and many people will relate with him. Daisy is the demure girl that many people would feel so much for. This book rouses emotions and feelings to a different level.
It is a romantic tale and one that the reader, right from the start, knows will fail. But Gatsby is a true romantic and nothing will stop him trying, as he tries to repeat the past against all odds.
It is a story that is beautifully written. It has lots of quotable and memorable lines in it and it touches on so many aspects of life in general and the1920s Jazz Age in particular. Indeed, Fitzgerald seems to have captured the age remarkably well, considering he was such a young man―in his twenties―when he wrote the book.
I have now read the book on more than one occasion and each time I find something new in it. I also have my favourite chapter (ch. 7), though others have told me that they prefer the descriptions of the the parties in the early chapters in the book. If there is one fault with the novel it is that it is rather short and I think that an extra hundred or so pages could have been given to exploring the characters in a little more depth. But this is a minor quibble for what is a very good book.
I hope you find my review helpful.
So, here are my two pence on the matter: the book uses smooth, general language and is quite easy to read. I definitely recommend it to ESL students who want to test their knowledge of the era.
I don't know if the version I read is a somehow edited version which doesn't coincide with the original or not; I know this was done often back in the days and not only in the US. What bothers me is how could this turn into the epitome of flapper, of la mode, of fashion and lifestyle when even Gatsby's own lifestyle is barely touched upon in the book. Obviously, I'm misguided by the visual adaptations of the story. Be warned, ye who may end up in my shoes!
The story seems very slow during most of the book, but there are huge leaps at the very last of the pages. I almost missed the huge event (starting vague to eliminate spoiler possibilities, even though it's a classic) because it was written somewhere at the end of a book I found very exhausting.
The last chapters have 1,000% the action of all the previous ones. I found it lacking in parties, vague when it comes to relationships, flat when it comes to character development of secondary characters. The only character amongst these pages who was worth it for me was our protagonist. I guess I expected too much from Gatsby and the ladies.
I am fully aware that writing a somewhat negative review of a classic is a risky endeavor. However, I think honesty, especially in this case, cannot hurt anyone.
The American born author F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote this novel in 1925. He also wrote other notable novels and short stories.
It's the story of Jay Gatsby's obsession with his old flame Daisy Buchanan. Daisy is a married woman. After getting his neighbor Nick to help him meet up with Daisy, Jay begins an affair with her and trouble ensues. Privilege and wealth are not enough. Daisy suffers from her husband's obvious infidelity. Yet she takes the same path with Gatsby. Gatsby is a creepy character. I was uncomfortable at his determination to get Daisy back. Gatsby admits that he threw lavish parties in the hope that Daisy would turn up with her circle of friends. People didn't need invitations to his parties. They showed up and that was fine by him. The story is exciting, gripping and full of action.
The book made me think about wealth and carelessness. In the story wealth is about money. Wealth can also mean having adequate food, water and shelter. Wealth can be from love. We are wealthy when we have a supportive family. It made me think that when we do have in abundance food, love, toilet roll (Ahem!) etc. do we care if others have enough? Whilst making sure we have stocked up do we cause others to not have anything? The behaviour of some people during the current crisis springs to mind. Tom and Daisy lived a life based on their own selfish needs. Gatsby used his riches to impress Daisy. He wanted her back in spite of her Husband.
Yet, thank God for the good people who do care. The character Nick Carraway is a good guy. He does contribute to some questionable behaviour but his heart is in the right place. He reminds them all on how lucky they are.
It's a great story and I was definitely gripped from the start. I liked the description and I loved the romance. It's not a large novel, my edition is 183 pages and I read it in 2 or 3 sittings. I would definitely recommend it.
Tom and Daisy Buchanan are from a privileged class of bright young things. When we first meet Daisy she is lounging in a room with all the curtains open doing nothing. This fanciful idea of the curtain billowing, the ladies reclined with their skirts caught in the wind, as if being carried away in a balloon, fits perfectly with Daisy’s personality. “I’m paralyzed with happiness.” are the first words we hear her speak and reinforces the idea of doing nothing. Physically he gives the reader the description of, “Her face was sad and lovely with bright things in it..” The excitement in her voice was “a singing compulsion, a whispered ‘Listen,’ a promise that she had done gay, exciting things just a while since..” This flamboyant, effervescent character is both carefree and careless. The way she changes subject mid conversation to ‘you must see the baby’ suggests a lack of attention and a distressed mental state. She also suggests it is better for women to be a pretty fool, a social comment on the way women of her class are seen in Fitzgerald’s world.
Tom equally indulges in the pleasures of life, not just his horse riding and cars, but keeping a mistress in the poor district between his mansion and the city. He suffers a crisis when Daisy admits to loving Gatsby and he finds out his mistress is being taken away by her husband. Suddenly everything he has is slipping through his fingers, he is losing control.
Gatsby himself is a mystery. In the beginning we are told that no one is ever invited to Gatsby’s place they just turn up. This makes the invitation to the narrator equally strange. Then when Nick meets Gatsby he has to mysteriously disappear to answer a phone call. This is the first clue that Gatsby’s business is not strictly legitimate. He has made and maintains his fortune on prohibition. Yet everything he has and does is to impress Daisy, to be and belong in her world. He has a man in the city send him shirts, so he knows what to wear, the nouveau rich fitting in. The idea of him taking the blame for the car accident, when she was driving, is perfectly in keeping with his character.
Why is he called great? I think Fitzgerald was creating the ultimate American icon. The self made man who never gives up no matter what. As one reviewer suggests, Fitzgerald is creating the American Dream before the term was even used. Gatsby also has this insatiable positive attitude which never gives up hope that there is something on the horizon, just out of reach, all you have to do is keep striving. Encapsulated in the famous closing lines, “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 further...” Again this pre-figures the American Dream that if you work hard enough you will succeed and those who fail, didn’t strive enough. It’s a recipe for tragedy, mental illness and loss.
Well, what a fantastic book club meeting last evening. The Great Gatsby was hailed as the greatest novel ever written and F. Scott Fitzgerald quite rightly earned his place as the finest writer of his or any other generation. It was also the first book in Farsley Book Club history to score a full house 100% approval rating!
What? What do you mean? Tell the truth, that was the truth wasn't it?
Well, a bit like Jay Gatsby himself I was a little guilty of embracing a fantasy and attempting to manipulate the outcome in my favour. It was my choice after all.
Okay, okay, let me pull the lever and flush out the lies....It wasn't exactly like that. So, let me tell it as it was old sport.
Very much described as a class book and not as many thought a die hard love story full of romance. No, this is about a man who aspires to love but is so cruelly denied.
The Gatsby parties were the stuff of legend but meant little to Gatsby himself who like a proud peacock wanted to demonstrate to Daisy (his former and would be future lover) the lofty position he had attained through less than honest ways. Surely Daisy would love him now?
This is ultimately the problem with the characters in The Great Gatsby. They are superficial, lacking in character, depth and meaning. So long as the money poured in and the champagne never ran dry they could all forget their empty miserable lives.
Oh, but the 1920s Jazz Age, the parties, I mean who wouldn't (despite the above attendees) want to be a part of the celebration? I know I would. "A Gin Ricky bartender, if you would be so kind."
Alas, the party couldn't last forever and the coming crash, depression, and the increased suicides notably by those who attended such parties are in the 1930s waiting.
It was Gatsby, the dreamer, weak and uncertain, fearful and lonely, the representation of new money and garage owner Wilson representing the working man who became the major victims of this work by Fitzgerald (not forgetting the unfortunate Myrtle Wilson). Both had humble beginnings and although Gatsby climbed the ladder of success it seemed to mean nothing without Daisy who he attempted to protect after Myrtle's own death. His most heroic act that led to nothing but separation from her permanently.
The book does suffer a terrible anticlimax with the bloody demise of Gatsby at the hands of George Wilson who in turn then takes his own life believing Gatsby to be responsible for his wife's death. Consequently the party moved on and there were few mourners at Gatsby's funeral, as one attendee at his funeral observed, "the poor son-of-a-bitch!" Nick Carraway, Gatsby's friend became the custodian of his legacy which had to have greater meaning than just his possessions and Nick attempted to inject this meaning after Gatsby's death.
I'm sure the money attached themselves to other parties seemingly getting away with drinking and dancing and forgetting poor Gatsby. They would not always get of scott free, if you'll pardon the pun.
Fitzgerald himself was familiar with this club and as a noted drunk and party animal he himself would have recognised all to well the life Gatsby and his 'friends' would have led and would also recognise the empty shells with which he mingled.
In the end, tragically, it killed him as well having suffered a fatal heart attack at the crazy age of 44. The famous wit Dorothy Parker quick to draw parallels between Fitz and Gatsby was heard to quip at his funeral, "The poor son-of-a- bitch."
It was suggested that Fitzgerald wove into his narrative a homosexual encounter between Nick and Mr. McKee at the end of Chapter 2 and this suggestion is perhaps supported by Nick's description of Tom Buchanan (Daisy's unlikable husband), his admiration for Gatsby himself and his reluctance to press for any relations with the female sex. The evidence is there and It's very difficult to argue against. Read it for yourself If you don't agree.
But, isn't that great? That Fitzgerald was prepared to weave this thread into his masterpiece demonstrates what a forward thinking writer he was. He deliberately embraced a theme that in 1925 would seem crazy and unthinkable and yet there it is. Fitz of course knew this world as he had friends of this persuasion and perhaps this nod was him acknowledging his support in a public way in a world that wasn't ready to accept it. I think this is a further demonstration of his greatness.
Despite a few of the collective not taking easily to Fitz's style of writing and the emptiness/shallowness of the characters the book was well received. Many prepared to read it again.
So, we can add The Great Gatsby by The Great F. Scott Fitzgerald to the Farsley Book Club Portfolio with an amazing approval rating of 72.9%.
Rest in Peace Jay Gatsby and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
I'm not really sure what I expected from The Great Gatsby but this wasn't it. I suppose I thought it would be a tale of excess, money and greed – which I suppose it is in a way – but I hadn't expected it to be so sad.
It isn't really long enough for any of the characters other than Nick, our narrator, to be much more than two dimensional, however I found so many of them just horrible people and couldn't help but feel sorry for Gatsby. Daisy and Tom deserve each other. Fitzgerald is right to put them together to make each other unhappy, even if they do inflict themselves on others to a greater or lesser degree.
The obvious symbolism and critique of the American Dream seems appropriate in a novella set so soon before the Great Depression and the shallowness of everything that comes with the worship of money and celebrity is a lesson that could be learned by many in today's society as well.
Fitzgerald portrays the 1920s as an era of decayed social and moral values, evidenced in its overarching cynicism, greed, and empty pursuit of pleasure. The reckless jubilance that led to decadent parties and wild jazz music—epitomized in The Great Gatsby by the opulent parties that Gatsby throws every Saturday night—resulted ultimately in the corruption of the American dream, as the unrestrained desire for money and pleasure surpassed more noble goals. When World War I ended in 1918, the generation of young Americans who had fought the war became intensely disillusioned, as the brutal carnage that they had just faced made the Victorian social morality of early-twentieth-century America seem like stuffy, empty hypocrisy. The dizzying rise of the stock market in the aftermath of the war led to a sudden, sustained increase in the national wealth and a new-found materialism, as people began to spend and consume at unprecedented levels. A person from any social background could, potentially, make a fortune, but the American aristocracy—families with old wealth—scorned the newly rich industrialists and speculators. Additionally, the passage of the Eighteenth Amendment in 1919, which banned the sale of alcohol, created a thriving underworld designed to satisfy the massive demand for bootleg liquor among rich and poor alike.
Fitzgerald positions the characters of The Great Gatsby as emblems of these social trends. Nick and Gatsby, both of whom fought in World War I, exhibit the new-found cosmopolitanism and cynicism that resulted from the war. The various social climbers and ambitious speculators who attend Gatsby’s parties evidence the greedy scramble for wealth. The clash between “old money” and “new money” manifests itself in the novel’s symbolic geography: East Egg represents the established aristocracy, West Egg the self-made rich. Meyer Wolfshiem and Gatsby’s fortune symbolize the rise of organized crime and bootlegging.
Coming to it again now, I am surprised at how dated and hackneyed it seems; how misogynist in its depiction and exposition of its female characters; how lightweight and unengaging all the characters are.
For me it is not a classic; its themes have been better explored elsewhere. I will be interested to see what my A levelling daughter makes of it and how she is encouraged to look at it...
Fitzgerald brilliantly captures both disillusion of post-war America, the moral failure of a society obsessed with weather and status, and the disappointment of the American dream. Fitzgerald re-creates the universal conflict between illusion and reality but chronicling Gatsby tragic pursuit of his dream.