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The Great Gatsby Paperback – September 30, 2004
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James Dickey Now we have an American masterpiece in its final form: the original crystal has shaped itself into the true diamond. This is the novel as Fitzgerald wished it to be, and so it is what we have dreamed of, sleeping and waking
About the Author
F. Scott Fitzgerald was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1896. He attended Princeton University, joined the United States Army during World War I, and published his first novel, This Side of Paradise, in 1920. That same year he married Zelda Sayre and for the next decade the couple lived in New York, Paris, and on the Riviera. Fitzgerald's materpieces include The Beautiful and the Damned, The Great Gatsby, and Tender Is the Night. He died at the age of forty-four while working on The Last Tycoon. Fitzgerald's fiction has secured his reputation as one of the most important American writers of the twentieth century.
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The only thing I knew about this book before I started reading was that it was a shallow love story that ends with the girl dumping the poor, innocent guy....or something. And yes that is the plot, but I think the story can also be about the American dream and who it's really available to. What is the American dream? Is it just getting money and it doesn't matter how? Did we really get away from social inequality? I hadn't really thought about any of that before reading this book. It made me wonder what my American dream is. Do I just want to get lots of money, a big house, and tons of stuff? Or is there more to it than that? Without spoiling the end, I feel like Mr. Fitzgerald's opinion on the matter is that some people are born to live the American dream and some aren't - and there isn't much you can do to change it. The fate of Daisy and Gatsby really brings that tragic idea home.
The parties were unreal. I was drooling over the mention of all the food. I couldn't help but imagine the Dowager Countess from Downton Abbey coming to Gatsby's house and being appalled at what Americans called "a dinner party." My mind was buzzing with all the practical details and sheer amount of money that it would take to feed two dinners and tons of alcohol to that many people... But the parties and glamour are just covering up the fact that most of these people are shady, immoral, hypocritical and just plain unhappy. Especially Tom and his wife Daisy.
I loved the writing. It was simple, charming, and witty - an interesting contrast to the much deeper story going on. The last line about how we can't escape from the past points out that even though as Americans we say that anyone can achieve wealth, happiness and equality, the truth is we keep getting sucked into the rules of the past.
The only thing I thought was overdone was the symbolic Eye Doctor bilboard in the ash valley. Don't let the symbolic Eye Doctor Ad/God's Judgement fall on you on the way out.
Overall, a novel that got me really thinking about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in the context of a beautiful, tragic, and romantic story.
I'm not sure it's worth going into the actual story. Most people already know about the actual plot, and if you don't there are plenty of other reviews here that can bring you up to speed. In short, as a high school English teacher, this is one of my favorite books of all time. Not because of the plot itself, which is engaging enough, but because Fitzgerald does an absolutely amazing job of making the story seem real, relatable, and relevant. My student struggle to enjoy or relate to most things written before their lifetimes, but most everyone in class is totally engaged when we do Gatsby, and agree that it reads like a modern written piece.
What's more worth mentioning is this specific edition of the book (I'm not sure if reviews for multiple versions are lumped together, but I purchased the hardcover edition). It's absolutely beautiful, with large pages and quality construction. I wasn't sure if it was worth buying my own copy when I have 40 in my classroom, but I'm extremely glad I did. It's nicer to hold and easier to read than the small soft cover editions, looks great on a shelf, and will assuredly last a longer than I do.
The most common complaint I hear about this book is that the characters are too shallow, self-involved, etc. They definitely are, however using the narrative style of having an outside observer tell the reader about the characters, the lifestyles, and the events is perfect. The observer is not particularly shallow or self-centered, he is more like an anthropologist observing an unfamiliar culture; he is not condoning or condemning, he is learning. It's fascinating, and brilliantly executed.
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The Great Gatsby Review
Overall, I really enjoyed reading The Great Gatsby.Read more