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The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby
by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Format: Hardback (collection), 1456 pgs.
Published: March 1st, 2013  by Wordsworth Editions
Originally published:  April 10th, 1925 by Scribner & Sons
Genre: Literature, Novel

 Amazon | Book Depository

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. -Goodreads


“It was the hour of profound human change, and excitement was generating on the air.” (625-6)

Growing up, it has been instilled upon me that The Great Gatsby is an allegory for The American Dream. Of course, this may be true, but reading it again (this time for unbiased pleasure rather than have it forced upon me by an over-analytical teacher) I’ve realized that it’s more than this. This is a story of power, wealth, corruption and love. Now you may yell at me, “Isn’t that proof of the American Dream?” Well, yes and no. Contrary to popular media beliefs, wealth does not directly lead to corruption (and vice-versa.) As with everything, life outcomes are different person to person, as we are not some standardized machine walking about the earth. The Declaration of Independence (in which The American Dream is derived from,) says that all men are created equal; although we may have been created equal, we grow into individualized personalities. This could probably open a whole nature vs. nurture debate, but I won’t get into that. The Great Gatsby is also an example of the Marxist views on materialism and morality. In this case, a little farm boy named Jimmy Gatz works himself up the society ladder to become Jay Gatsby, and through his wealth, he obtained power. Through corruption, he reached for love.

Love did not reach back.

“So we drove on towards death through the cooling twilight.” (653)

Gatsby’s vainglory and vanity in his wealth became the deadly sin personified. He did everything to look important and to have his name attached to high society. Throwing lavish parties for people he didn’t even know, and doing dealings with people who didn’t care about him, all deconstructed to pride and materialism. Impressing Daisy was a major influence for him; a promiscuous woman who in all eventuality didn’t give a care in the world for him. Staring and dreaming upon that little green light across the bay; green which symbolizes rebirth (not to mention envy.) Gatsby changed for Daisy, back and forth, trying to recapture a beloved part of his past.

“He talked a lot about the past, and I gathered that he wanted to recover something, some idea of himself perhaps, that had gone into loving Daisy.” (636)

As for my reaction to The Great Gatsby, just as when I read it almost ten years ago, I love it. Well, I love the storyline aspect because it showed a prideful and vulnerable human being tarnished and destroyed by the very things he loved. I admit that by the time I was finished with the book I basically disliked everyone in the book; Daisy and Tom, because of the obvious; Nick Carraway (the narrator) because he reintroduced Daisy and Gatsby; and Gatsby because of his blissful ignorance. It is the reasons why I dislike the characters that made me love the story. I also found it interesting that Daisy and Gatsby, supposedly the only sober people in the book, were the most depraved, and somehow the mix of the two became a volatile piece of destruction. Gatsby surrounded himself with the false hope of friends and love, only to be left alone and unloved.

“No – Gatsby turned out all right at the end; it is what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the wake of his dreams that temporarily closed out my interest in the abortive sorrows and short-winded elations of men.” (564)

I wholeheartedly recommend this book for those unhappy with life and needing an influential tale of human nature, high society disadvantages and love. Other works in which the same American Dream concept that I have more recently read are Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck and The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka.

First Line: “In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.” (563)

Last Line: “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” (683)

“People disappeared, reappeared, made plans to go somewhere, and then lost each other, searched for each other, found each other a few feet away.” (586)

“In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars.” (588)

“It’s a great advantage not to drink among hard-drinking people. You can hold your tongue, and, moreover, you can time any little irregularity of your own so that everybody else is so blind that they don’t see or care.” (613)

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