Rating: it was amazing
Oh Gatsby, you old sport, you poor semi-delusionally hopeful dreamer with 'some heightened sensitivity to the promises of life', focusing your whole self and soul on that elusive money-colored green light - a dream that shatters just when you are *this* close to it.
Jay Gatsby, who dreamed a dream with the passion and courage few possess - and the tragedy was that it was a wrong dream colliding with reality that was even more wrong - and deadly.
Just like the Great Houdini - the association the title of this book so easily invokes - you specialized in illusions and escape. Except even the power of most courageous dreamers can be quite helpless to allow us escape the world, our past, and ourselves, giving rise to one of the most famous closing lines of a novel.
'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 — to-morrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther... And one fine morning ——Dear Gatsby, not everything I liked back when I was fourteen has withstood the test of time¹ - but you clearly did, and as I get older, closer to your and Nick Carraway's age, your story gathers more dimensions and more tragedy, fleshing out so much more from what I thought of as a tragic love story when I was a child - turning into a great American tragedy.
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.'
¹ I hang my head in shame at my ability to still belt out an enthusiastic (albeit poorly rendered) version of '...Baby One More Time' when it comes on the radio (provided, of course, that my car windows are safely up).
I blame it on my residual teenage hormones.
'They were careless people, Tom and Daisy — 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.'
Rating: it was amazing
The Great Gatsby is your neighbor you're best friends with until you find out he's a drug dealer. It charms you with some of the most elegant English prose ever published, making it difficult to discuss the novel without the urge to stammer awestruck about its beauty. It would be evidence enough to argue that F. Scott Fitzgerald was superhuman, if it wasn't for the fact that we know he also wrote This Side of Paradise.
But despite its magic, the rhetoric is just that, and it is a cruel facade. Behind the stunning glitter lies a story with all the discontent and intensity of the early Metallica albums. At its heart, The Great Gatsby throws the very nature of our desires into a harsh, shocking light. There may never be a character who so epitomizes tragically misplaced devotion as Jay Gatsby, and Daisy, his devotee, plays her part with perfect, innocent malevolence. Gatsby's competition, Tom Buchanan, stands aside watching, taunting and provoking with piercing vocal jabs and the constant boast of his enviable physique. The three jostle for position in an epic love triangle that lays waste to countless innocent victims, as well as both Eggs of Long Island. Every jab, hook, and uppercut is relayed by the instantly likable narrator Nick Carraway, seemingly the only voice of reason amongst all the chaos. But when those boats are finally borne back ceaselessly by the current, no one is left afloat. It is an ethical massacre, and Fitzgerald spares no lives; there is perhaps not a single character of any significance worthy even of a Sportsmanship Award from the Boys and Girls Club.
In a word, The Great Gatsby is about deception; Fitzgerald tints our glasses rosy with gorgeous prose and a narrator you want so much to trust, but leaves the lenses just translucent enough for us to see that Gatsby is getting the same treatment. And if Gatsby represents the truth of the American Dream, it means trouble for us all. Consider it the most pleasant insult you'll ever receive.
Rating: did not like it
This is my least-favorite classic of all time. Probably even my least favorite book, ever.
I didn't have the faintest iota of interest in neither era nor lifestyle of the people in this novela. So why did I read it to begin with? well, because I wanted to give it a chance. I've been surprised by many books, many a times. Thought this could open a new literary door for me.
Most of the novel was incomprehensibly lame. I was never fully introduced to the root of the affair that existed between Gatsby and Daisy. So they were in love...yeah..I've been in love too, who cares?
Several times I didn't even understand where characters were when they were speaking to each other. I also didn't understand the whole affair with Tom and Mrs. Wilson.. and something about her husband locking her up over the garage...? huh? then she gets run over by a car, then he sneaks in through the trees and shoots Gatsby? wha..? still..why am I suppose to care about all this?
Shallow and meaningless characters. Again, who cares?
I read this book twice. 2 times. I just didn't get it.
I can't believe this book is revered with the rest of the great classics. Truly unbelievable. Fitzgerald certainly kissed the right asses with this one.
“They’re such beautiful shirts,” she sobbed.… “It makes me sad because I’ve never seen such—such beautiful shirts before.”...sob..sob.. boo-hoo-hoo. oh Please someone shut her the fuck up.
Rating: did not like it
After six years of these heated and polarized debates, I'm deleting the reviews that sparked them. Thanks for sharing your frustrations, joys, and insights with me, goodreaders. Happy reading!
In love and good faith, always,
Rating: it was amazing
Jay Gatsby, you poor doomed bastard. You were ahead of your time. If you would have pulled your scam after the invention of reality TV, you would have been a huge star on a show like The Bachelor and a dozen shameless Daisy-types would have thrown themselves at you.
Mass media and modern fame would have embraced the way you tried to push your way into a social circle you didn’t belong to in an effort to fulfill a fool’s dream as your entire existence became a lie and you desperately sought to rewrite history to an ending you wanted. You had a talent for it, Jay, but a modern PR expert would have made you bigger than Kate Gosselin. Your knack for self-promotion and over the top displays of wealth to try and buy respectability would have fit right in these days. I can just about see you on a red carpet with Paris Hilton.
And the ending would have been different. No aftermath for rich folks these days. Lawyers and pay-off money would have quietly settled the matter. No harm, no foul. But then you’d have realized how worthless Daisy really was at some point. I’m sure you couldn’t have dealt with that. So maybe it is better that your story happened in the Jazz Age where you could keep your illusions intact to the bitter end.
The greatest American novel? I don’t know if there is such an animal. But I think you'd have to include this one in the conversation.
Rating: it was amazing
DAISY BUCHANAN IS A GIFT TO READERS EVERYWHERE AND THE HERO OF THE GREAT GATSBY, FOR SURE, NO QUESTIONS, FIGHT ME IN THE COMMENTS IF YOU THINK YOU’RE BOLD: A Thinkpiece by Me
I’ve known that Daisy effin’ rocks since I first read this book. (Fun fact: my first read of this took place in the back of the family minivan when I was 13, on a roadtrip to, like, Disney World or something. While thoughts of princesses and mouse-shaped ice cream bars danced in my siblings’ heads, I was reading about moral corruption in the Jazz Age.) (All because I saw online that if a college interviewer asks what your favorite book is, you should say The Great Gatsby. And for some goddamn reason, I was like, Yeah, it’s definitely urgent that I, an eighth grade student, be prepared to have a college interview at any moment.) (I only ever had to do one college interview anyway, because only one was required and of COURSE I didn’t opt into the non-mandatory ones because CANYOUIMAGINE. Guess what? The interviewer did ask me what my favorite book was. Guess what I didn’t say? The Great f*ckin’ Gatsby! I panicked and, I think, said All the Light We Cannot See, because it was the first non-embarrassing book that came to mind. My life is just one mistake after another.)
Anyway. I loved Daisy then. I loved her two years later, when my English class read it and it was VERY clear that I was “““supposed””” to not like her, and, like, fawn over Gatsby’s childish ass instead. Which, no. Picture this: fifteen-year-old me, who has Just Decided she’s going to be cool now (a process which involved wearing 15 layers of mascara and no other makeup - neither an exaggeration nor a good look) in a room of twenty fifteen-year-olds, including cool ones, all VEHEMENTLY AGREEING ON SOMETHING.
But I still stood up for Daisy. Because I have PRIORITIES.
My senior year of high school, my morals and soul and ability to empathize were challenged by six students and a teacher in AP Lit. But I won the award for being the best English student in my graduating class, so honestly I think that’s an indication that I also won that argument.
And now here I am today, prepared to make the same argument to you all.
But let’s get into this. Here is why Daisy is not only innocent to the VILLAINOUS charges that have been placed upon her, but also the best character in this book and an absolute angel/joy/gift from the heavens. (Does that mean F. Scott Fitzgerald is God?)
Also, this has literally all of the spoilers. And is long. But THOROUGH AND WORTH IT.
One: What was she SUPPOSED to do?
So put yaself in Daisy’s shoes, yeah? Let’s take it allllll the way back. You’re a teenage girl who is the hottest sh*t in all of Louisville. (This is a big deal, apparently.) You have SIX DATES A DAY! The phone never stops ringing!!! You have nothing but options!!
Kidding, kidding. You only have one option, really, and that’s marrying a rich guy. Don’t we love historical gender expectations? I know I do!
So then one day, this guy who’s fiiiiine as hell shows up. And you guys start hanging out all the time, and he’s so charming and hot and you guys get along like a house on fire. You have a really great kiss. The guy’s a captain in the army, and he implies he’s supes well off financially. It’s perfect. It’s the best case scenario for you.
(This guy’s Jay Gatsby, by the way. In case I haven’t made that clear.)
Then the guy has to go off to war. It sucks, sucks, sucks. You two write letters back and forth, but all the while your family is pressuring you. Society is pressuring you. Your friends are making backhanded comments about how you’re still unmarried.
The war ends. Sweet relief! Jay’s coming home!
Except no. He’s at Oxford, for some reason? And he tells you he can’t come home? And your letters get sadder and sadder, because you’re out of time. The war ended, and you have nothing to tell your parents.
So those six dates a day start back up.
And then this guy pops up in town. He’s reallyyyy rich. And buff. And a real society man. And he’s not from Louisville - he’s a way out. You can see the world with him. Best of all, he’s obsessed with you.
(This guy is Tom Buchanan.)
So what do you do? You can’t do anything. You have to marry him.
And when you get a letter from Jay “Too Little Too Late” Gatsby, you scream and cry and try to stop the wedding, but there’s nothing you can do. Ya hafta marry Tom “Seems Okay” Buchanan.
Two: Now That’s What I Call “Whoops”
The OTHER fun thing you get to do, in this life as Daisy Buchanan, is have children whether you want them or not.
For awhile you don’t mind Tom. In fact, you really love him for a bit. He does nice stuff like carry you so your shoes don’t touch the ground, and the honeymoon’s great, etc etc. So even though you don’t have one mother-effin’ ounce of an option in whether you want kids or not, when ya get pregnant, you think maybe it won’t be that bad.
And then Tom turns out to suuuuuck. You have to leave these places you love, where everyone is full-on obsessed with you, and you have friends and family and as close to a life as you can get, you have to leave because Tom is f*cking everything with girl parts and a ditzy 1920s accent.
BUT NOW YOU HAVE A DAUGHTER. AND YOU LOVE HER SO MUCH. AND YOU KNOW HOW HARD IT WILL BE FOR HER, BECAUSE SHE’S GOING TO HAVE THE SAME LIFE AS YOU. And all you can hope is that she’ll be a beautiful fool, like Tom’s girls, so she’ll be silly enough to be satisfied with life’s inability to give her much of anything.
And Daisy might be beautiful, but she’s sure as sh*t no fool.
Three: Ho-ly shit wait...does life not suck? Is there such a thing as a second chance?
So you’ve got this new life in New York, and you’ve got a BFF from Louisville (Jordan Baker), and yes, Tom is cheating on you, but if he maybe just didn’t answer the goddamn phone during dinner for once you could just forget about it for literally one freaking second.
And then GUESS WHAT? Your old pal Nick Carraway is back! A friend, how amazing! HURRAY! And kinda strange, Nick wants you to get a weird one-on-one tea party on with him, but it’s like, whatever, Tom’s cheating anyway and you’re not interested in Nick like that but he’s a fun guy and you can just reject him.
But waitholdupWHOA what a wild coincidence! The guy who was lowkey the love of your life, Jay Gatsby, is also here! How, well, coincidental! You can play catch up and see his bougie-ass house and whatnot. And cry over the fact that he’s such a horrific asshole that he would leave you totally in the dust without contacting you for years and then all of a sudden appears and is like “I am very rich as promised I live right across the water from you I can see your house let’s get together here are all my fancy shirts I will throw them at you. So glad Nick is here for some reason let's keep on not letting him leave.”
Plus life with Tom, as mentioned, is not extremely great.
So it’s like, yeah, perfect, okay. Let's get some Gatsby on.
Four: No. No, there is not a chance of life not sucking. Life is terrible and so we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into a gUY WHO IS JUST AS BAD.
GUESS WHAT WASN’T A COINCIDENCE? ANY OF THAT. All along, even the people you trusted most - Nick, Jordan, Gatsby - have been manipulating you. There have been secret plans and lies and tricks and all of these things just to get you to f*ck a guy.
And if you think about it, Gatsby is not nice or romantic or kind or fair to lil ol Daisy. At all. His expectations are insane. He got to leave her and build a life for himself and live as he wanted and travel and make up this story and be wealthy and throw parties, while she lived with a cheating husband. And after all that, if she wants admission into the life that being with him might give her, she has to say no, she wasn’t ever happy, there wasn’t a moment she loved Tom.
And when she plaintively says, “I love you now. Isn’t that enough? I can’t help the past,” she’s just begging Gatsby to accept her. How absolutely tragic. Tom cheats on her, Gatsby expects so much - she’s never been fully, truly, without-exception loved.
Five: Gatsby literally sucks oh my god
DAISY IS JUST A SYMBOL OF GATSBY’S ABILITY TO CONQUER THE SOCIOECONOMIC CASTE SYSTEM OF THE 1920S. Like, if he can “get” Daisy (literally an object), that’s not even enough. He has to have HAD DAISY FOREVER. Because then he’s beaten Tom, the symbol of old money.
He’s so gross, literally. Here are 2 quotes on Gatsby’s “““feelings””” for Daisy which illustrate how much he sucks.
“It excited him, too, that many men had already loved Daisy. It increased her value in his eyes.”
Her VALUE. Like she is an OBJECT. Because OTHER MEN were not enough, so he is THE BEST MAN.
Daisy must’ve fallen short 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 can think up in his ghostly heart.”
So he made her into this manic-pixie-dream IDEA of a person, and we’re supposed to be mad at her for not living up to it? Nah. Nope. Not going to happen. Gatsby sucks.
Six: It’s called the responsible choice, you raging dingbats
So AFTER she’s already been pressured by Gatsby to act as though entire swaths of her life didn’t happen, she finds out Gatsby has been lying to her all along - keeping the truth from her in order to protect this psychotic fairytale concoction of a totally goddamn made up story. Like! A! Total! Freak! What the f*ck would you do? If you were going to leave your sh*tty gross husband for what seems like a better life, but really has always been a lie - and a totally full on creepy one at that. And what if you had a daughter, who it’s made OVERWHELMINGLY CLEAR you love and worry about and she loves you too, so much. You’d just leave her in the care of that sh*tty creepy cheating disgusting husband, who couldn’t care less and would not be at all above using her as a chess piece??? You’d leave her when everything you thought you knew was completely made up???? When it’s just been your dearest loved ones manipulating you all along???
No, the f*ck you wouldn’t. Daisy’s choices were protecting her daughter, and sexy times with a con man. There’s no goddamn choice.
She’s great and smart and responsible. It couldn’t have been easy for her to stay with Tom, who SUCKS. She says to his face that he’s “repulsive.” But it was the grown-up option.
TALK ABOUT A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE. She is such a queen.
Seven: Oh, I’m sorry, I forgot THE LAW THAT MARRIED COUPLES ARE EXACTLY THE SAME IN LEVELS OF BAD-NESS you fools
Tom sucks. We know this. He’s a racist cheating bastard, and he’s gross, and he hits Myrtle. He does plenty a’ terrible thing.
But guess who is not automatically responsible for his actions??? Daisy, b*tch. She totally roasts him up for his Rise of the Colored Empires pseudo-science racism. She simply does not treat people in the same way Tom does. She’s not him. I don’t get the grouping of them both together like it’s her fault. She’s totally trapped.
Eight: Do we know that she knows that Gatsby died? Do we really, really, reallyyyyy know?
When Nick calls her house, she’s gone. Like, do we honestlyyyyyy think that the dude who picked up the phone is actually going to tell her he called? Would you be rearing to go if a person you trusted who TOTALLY ACTUALLY MANIPULATED YOU hit you up after ignoring you for weeks like YOU ARE THE VILLAIN?
Honestly, there’s no real sign that Daisy knew he died, but literally what did she owe him anyway. He manipulated her, lied to her, treated her like an object and nearly ruined her life. Totally made a terrible existence into full on garbàge. Whatever, man.
Nine: The car thing
She was traumatized. Gatsby orchestrated the whole cover-up. He took the wheel, he drove away, he hid the car. She had no clue the whole thing would go horribly wrong. He’s the one who made all the choices in the aftermath. Duh.
God this was so long. I’m tired. And apologetic. Toward you, for having read a very long thing that I wrote, and toward myself, because I had to write it.
This should certainly be enough to prove that Daisy Buchanan is a victim to her circumstances and otherwise noble and great and trying her goddamn best in a world in which everyone treats her like the beautiful fool she is totally not.
Plus her voice is full of money.
Now go off in your new happy life of being utterly enamored with Daisy Buchanan.
Daisy Buchanan Is The Real Hero Of The Great Gatsby: A Thinkpiece
will be dropping my pièce de résistance soon
(this is my attempt at a fun way of saying, "review to come and that review will blow your mind and make you realize that daisy is the best part of this book")
Rating: it was ok
There was one thing I really liked about The Great Gatsby.
It was short.
Rating: really liked it
Over drinks, I’ve observed—like so many smart alecks—that much of The Great Gatsby’s popularity relies heavily on its shortness. At a sparse 180 pages, Fitzgerald’s masterpiece could be argued to be the “Great American novella.” Gatsby, like so many other short classics, is easily readable, re-readable, and assessable to everyone from the attention-deficient young to mothers juggling a kid, a career, and a long-held desire to catch up on all those books “they should have read but haven’t gotten around to yet”.
I’ve now read Gatsby three times, and I admit that on my first reading during (like handfuls of others) my senior year English class, I wasn’t particularly fond of the book; I believe I used the adjective “overrated” on numerous occasions. Daisy Buchanan seemed like a twit of a woman, and I found Jay Gatsby to be pathetically clawing in his attempt to attain her. Nick, my guide, only annoyed me further with his apparent hero-worshiping of a man I found one-dimensional and his adoration for the kind of woman I’ve seen other men purport to be goddesses, but in fact, are dim-witted simpletons with nice figures.
Over my two subsequent readings—pushed along by friends whose judgment I trusted and who swore the book was “so funny and ironic”—I discovered within Fitzgerald’s fable a sardonic social wit and a heavily layered critique of the American Dream: the poor, working (wo)man rising above his or her social situation to discover money conquers all.
Fitzgerald has a discerning ability for sharp critiques of the economically privileged and, like Jane Austin, has an ear for realistic, bantering dialogue. Through Nick’s narration, we see a world that so many Americans dream of (its enviableness only further accentuated by our open disdain for it): a life of endless parties, delicious food, beautiful clothes, and Paris Hilton. Nick who’s paradoxically drawn to his cousin, Daisy’s, and her husband, Tom’s, lifestyle with gloating contempt echoes the contemporary American idolization of an elite lifestyle that none but a select few attain.
We watch Daisy with her voice that “sounds of money” flit about with uncompromising shallowness and vivacious school-girl frivolity, and through her, see so many of the inconsequential remarks and actions others (as well as ourselves) have made for the sheer sake of “having a good time”. In spite of her frivolity and weak disposition, we become, like Gatsby, “overwhelmingly aware of the youth and mystery that wealth imprisons and preserves, of the freshness of many clothes, and of Daisy, gleaming like silver, safe and proud above the hot struggles of the poor.”
Through Gatsby’s veneration of Daisy, we not only imagine what so many Americans desire (success), but also we see the goal and glittering fixation of all humanity: beauty. And like many Americans in the throes of Capitalism, Gatsby believes that money can buy beauty as well as love. Fitzgerald articulates this disillusion with haunting force, particularly voiced through Nick’s obsessive repulsion with the extravagant society his social status has allowed him and the sadness he finds while watching a “working man” attempt to enter it.
One critique of The Great Gatsby, which could also be argued as a positive, is the limited scope of action and themes Fitzgerald chooses to encapsulate. We only see the wealthy elite (or people wanting to be the wealthy elite), and only Nick really has any depth of characterization. Unlike a tome, such as War and Peace, Gatsby fails to have numerous interwoven plotlines within a grand historical context. Yes, the Jazz Age is the novel’s backdrop, but Fitzgerald fails to engage in any discussion beyond a summer among the wealthy youth partying into the wee hours of the night in the West Egg. Yet, the control with which Fitzgerald expresses his limited themes makes the novel’s lack of scope forgivable.
Gatsby is short and easily accessible, and I have no doubt these aspects of the novel do lend to its everlasting popularity. At the same time, it should never diminish its truly admirable ability to tease apart some of the most confounding qualities American culture values: money, beauty, youth, hard work, and the ever effusive, love.
Rating: it was amazing
Casual, self-absorbed decadence, the evaporation of social grace, money calling all the shots and memories of the past holding people hostage from the future that lies before them. Yes, Mr. Fitzgerald has nailed it and written one of THE great American novels.
This book was a surprise. I LOVED it and all of the deep contradictions swimming around its heart. At once a scathing indictment on the erosion of the American Dream, but also a bittersweet love letter to the unfailing optimism of the American people. Call it dignified futility…obstinate hopefulness. Whatever you call it, this novel is shiny and gorgeous, written with a sort of breezy pretension that seems to mirror the loose morality of the story. Rarely have I come across a book whose style so perfectly enhances its subject matter.
Set in the eastern United States just after World War I, Fitzgerald shows us an America that has lost its moral compass. This fall from grace is demonstrated through the lives of a handful of cynical “well-to-dos” living lavish but meaningless lives that focus on nothing but the pursuit of their own pleasures and whims.
Standing apart from these happenings (while still being part of them) is our narrator, Nick Carraway. As the one honest and decent person in the story, Nick stands in stark contrast to the other characters. “Everyone suspects himself of at least one of the cardinal virtues, and this is mine: I am one of the few honest people that I have ever known.” Nick relays the story of the summer he spent in Long Island’s West Egg in a small house sandwiched between the much larger mansions of the area. His time in Long Island is spent with a group that includes his second cousin, Daisy Buchanan, and her rich husband Tom who live in Long Island’s East Egg. At one point in the story, Nick provides the following description of the pair which I do not think can be improved upon:
They were careless people, Tom and Daisy--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.In addition, we have Jordan Baker who is a poster child for the pretty, amoral, self-centered rich girl whose view of the world is jaded and unsentimental. Basically, she’s a bitch.
He had one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced, or seemed to face, the whole external world for an instant and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself.However, from that very first encounter, Fitzgerald slowly chips away at the persona and peels back the layers of the “Great” Gatsby until we are left with a flawed and deeply tragic figure that in my opinion ranks among the most memorable in all of classic literature. Nick’s journey in his relationship with Gatsby mirrors our own. “It is invariably saddening to look through new eyes at things upon which you have expended your own powers of adjustment.”
And as I sat there, brooding on the old, unknown world, I thought of Gatsby's wonder when he first picked out Daisy's light at the end of his dock. He had come such a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close he could hardly fail to grasp it. But what he did not know was that it was already behind him, somewhere in the vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night.5.0 stars. HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION!!
Rating: liked it
The eh Gatsby
Classic. Yes. THE great American novel. Hmph, so I heard. I suppose it should make one more interested, or at least feel more compelled to read something (or re-read as is the case here) when it has "classic" and "everyone else loves it!" stamped all over it. And has a movie made out of it, though what beloved novel hasn't these days? Of course, I originally read FSF's Gatsby because I was expected to for a high school English class. So, even though I was never the type to do homework, I read The Great Gatsby because it had a neat cover, Fitzgerald is fun to say, and, of course, the legend of Zelda.
Unfortunately for Meredyth, my thoughts on Gatsby 10 years ago are pretty similar to the thoughts I have on it today: How pretty. Pretty decedant. How drippy. How zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
It's not that I was completely uninterested. It's that my interest was never piqued to the point of really giving a shit. Sure, who doesn't love a hot mysteriously wealthy man with serious heart ache for a serious material girl? What about those rich dudes who may be crooks but no one can figger out how crooked they are exactly because how crooked can you be if you throw such mean hoedowns?!
Oh, and I love a good morally ambiguous-protaganist/narrator-who-hates-parties-and-society-but-just-can't-seem-to-stay-away as much as the next person, but Nick, our hero, just wants to be liked so very much, and unfortunately, he reads like a sap. And when all the other characters are unforgivable bores, I would prefer that my ambiguous, socially mandated narrator manage to keep me awake.
What about those three stars? You ask. Well I can't lie. I do think Fitz had a way with words. I did find that those subtle nuances of the variations in lifestyle during the depression to be very much in effect, and I would be happy to visit any fictional small town called West Egg. Or East Egg for that matter. And I get the kind of crazy he was going for in his more psychopathic character, George Wilson, who, because he was in love, becomes the bastiOn of normalcy even when he is driven to murder and his own suicide.
FSF did manage to be believably compassionate towards his seemingly less insane characters, (who are all on the brink of insanity) (but still made me drowsy). There is definitely a part of me that sees how one could be drawn into the twinkly lit world FSF created, supposedly, out of his own reality, and I have noted his passion for the beauty of the unfolding story, such as it is.
But I was disappointed 10 years ago by the story's inability to convince me it wasn't nap time, its unwillingness to point out the the relevance of the individual over society, and the irrelevance of the world Gatsby inhabits, and I was disappointed again this past week.
In summation, be sure to keep an eye out for this writer. Once he writes something more appealing to the masses he's sure to bust out onto the scene soon. You heard it here first.
Rating: liked it
This is a good book, though it is so ridiculously overrated.
There are so many great books out there that will never get the attention they deserve. They will be forgotten and their wisdom heard by only a select few who are willing to go looking for it. So it annoys me when books like this are acclaimed by critics and readers alike as the best pieces of fiction in existence (when they are not.) There’s so much more out there!
Anyway, rant over. The thing I like most about The Great Gatsby is the language, the subtlety’s and the suggestions, the things that are not directly said but are said nevertheless. It’s a true feat of writing and at times it reminded me of a stage piece. The dialogue does not give the answers, but it is the character’s actions and movements (so fantastically narrated) that give the game away: it reveals their internal worlds.
As such this is a book that can easily be skimmed over. The plot is basic and relatively unengaging and consequently I think an inattentive reader has a lot to miss here. It’s all about illusions and false appearances just like real life. The way people perceive us is not how we truly are and sometimes individuals actively work towards creating a desired appearance for the outside world. It’s easily done with enough time, effort and money. What Gatsby creates for the outside is a dream, an ideal life that looks perfect.
However, scratch the surface and it is so very, very, clear that not everything is perfect. His supposed “happiness” is hollow and dictated by the whims of society. It is fickle, egotistical and driven by status and all the silly little symbols that go with it. His success is what society demands success to be; thus, he positions himself into a place where he can chase his true dream. In doing so Gatsby shows us that not everything is as simple as it appears, and that society driven by such monetary values is a dangerous thing because everybody is so detached from what really matters in life. (The object of his affections, for example.)
I enjoyed The Great Gatsby though I certainly did not love it. Its popularity baffles me to a degree, I can think of books from the same era that deserve far more attention. Still, I enjoyed reading it and I’m glad I finally did so.
Rating: it was amazing
Most Americans are assigned to read this novel in high school. Few American high schoolers have the wherewithal to appreciate this novel in full. I certainly did not. It is on a shortlist of novels that should, every 5 years starting at age 25, return to any American's required reading list.
First things first: The opening of The Great Gatsby -- its first 3-4 pages -- ranks among the best of any novel in the English language, and so too does its ending. Both for their content and for their prose, the latter of which is stunning and near perfect throughout the novel.
As for that between the novel's opening and conclusion, two things first. (1) History is fairly clear that the term "the American Dream" did not exist at the time Fitzgerald wrote The Great Gatsby, and regardless it almost certainly did not exist in the popular consciousness. (2) Few great American novelists after Fitzgerald have not attempted to write "the great American novel". Most of these efforts are absurdly long and often tortured. The Great Gatsby, on the other hand, is relatively short, fluid, and of seemingly effortless yet pristine expression. At a point in history where Fitzgerald's express focus could hardly have been a tale regarding "the American dream" per se or the writing of "the great American novel", Fitzgerald nevertheless crafts the definitive tale of "the American Dream", as well as, his successors' endeavors aside, "the great American novel". Period.
In not so many pages, Fitzgerald paints a brilliantly cogent picture of the potential pleasures, joys, and benefits an individual might deem achievable -- uniquely so -- in an America filled with possibilities. Paired with that picture, Fitzgerald besprinkles The Great Gatsby with the numerous pitfalls and evils that both stand as a barrier to what's imagined achievable in America, and threaten to accompany that which is achieved. Neither the quest for, nor (if possible) the achievement of, the American Dream is a thing untainted. Nor, in Fitzgerald's view, can it be.
Fitzgerald, frankly, writes all that need be written on this subject; whatever his successors' ambitions may be. And he writes it in prose so perfect, so impressive, and so beautiful, I occasionally find myself at a loss to name a novel in the English language constructed with greater skill, and apparent ease thereof.
In short: The Great Gatsby is an inimitable wonder of American fiction. And, for lack of a better word, an "application" of the English language that has few equals. The novel is astounding.
Rating: it was amazing
I just spent three days being read to by Jake Gyllenhaal and it was absolutely wonderful! I took Jake with me for long Summer walks, to the grocery store, Trader Joe's, and let me not forget the ten minutes I spent driving around the parking lot of Target, not for a better parking space, but to listen to Jake read "The Great Gatsby" to me! My only regret is that this fabulous experience is over. Sigh...
I've read the book and watched both versions of the movie but this is by far my favorite experience with this novel!
Highly highly recommended!
Rating: it was amazing
COSÌ CONTINUIAMO A REMARE, BARCHE CONTRO LA CORRENTE, SOSPINTI SENZA POSA VERSO IL PASSATO
Romanzo che mi è parso molto, molto cinematografico (anche se non credo Fitzgerald avesse ancora incominciato a lavorare a Hollywood quando Gatsby fu pubblicato).
Ma il cinema per gli US (e per noi italiani) è la forma d’arte esportata meglio nel corso del Novecento, quella che si è diffusa di più, è diventata più famosa. Fitzgerald anche in questo seppe cogliere l’aria del tempo (e poi restare eterno come solo i classici possono).
Il primo adattamento per lo schermo apparve a un solo anno di distanza dalla prima pubblicazione, 1926, film muto, con Warner Baxter nel ruolo del titolo, Lois Wilson in Daisy, e Neil Hamilton in Nick. La regia di Herbert Brenon. Il film fu un fiasco, come tutti gli altri che seguirono nel tempo. Fitzgerald e sua moglie Zelda detestarono questo primo adattamento e uscirono dalla sala prima della fine della proiezione. Di questo film è rimasto solo il trailer, il resto si è dissolto.
Cinematografico non solo nell’attenzione alle luci: le finestre, aperte e chiuse, i controluce, i colori (il verde della luce del faro, il giallo della macchina e degli occhiali, il rosa e l’oro degli abiti di Gatsby, l’oro della ricchezza, l’azzurro dei prati, l’argento della luna…) - pure se all’epoca la pellicola era ancora in bianco e nero, la realtà ricostruita nei set era ovviamente colorata.
Squisitamente cinematografica la prima apparizione di Gatsby, in silhouette, uscito per decidere quanto gli spettasse del nostro cielo, protende il braccio verso la luce verde al di là della baia, il faro davanti alla casa di Daisy (questa luce verde ritorna più volte nel romanzo, diventa il simbolo della ricerca di Gatsby, del sogno individuale e collettivo, infatti è lo stesso verde che appare ai primi marinai che raggiunsero la costa americana, loro sì inseguirono il sogno diretti da est a ovest).
Ma, l’effettiva entrata in scena di Gatsby è articolata in un crescendo, per i primi due capitoli e metà del terzo, come l’ingresso della primadonna. Preparata dalle voci (…è parente del Kaiser… ha ucciso un uomo… è cugino di secondo grado del diavolo…), dalle chiacchiere, dai mormorii, la curiosità sale nel protagonista io narrante e nel lettore (sicuramente nel sottoscritto lettore).
E poi, colpo di genio, Gatsby all’improvviso è già in scena: niente occhio di bue, niente rullo di tamburi, accanto a Nick, il nostro Virgilio in questa divina tragedia americana, è seduto un uomo di qualche anno più grande di lui, che parla con cura e formalità, probabilmente un ex commilitone durante la Grande Guerra. Ed è proprio lui, Gatsby, il mitico grande Gatsby, colui che dispensava la luce delle stelle a falene indifferenti.
Sempre in bianco e nero, ma in sonoro, si comincia a entrare nel mito, con Alan Ladd nella parte di Gatsby, Betty Field per Daisy, e Macdonald Carey che fa Nick. Dirige Elliott Nugent. È il 1949, e anche questo film incassa male, la maledizione di Gatsby contagia lo schermo.
Esistono molti tipi di sorriso: quello di Gatsby però è unico, e FSF lo descrive a meraviglia.
Dimentica tuttavia di dirci la cosa che spiega tutto: non basta scrivere che era uno di quei rari sorrisi capaci di rassicurazione eterna, come si incontrano quattro o cinque volte nella vita - il sorriso di Gatsby era uno di quei sorrisi che ti fanno sentire importante. Prima di tutto proprio per il fatto che sia uno come Gatsby a sorriderti. Quel genere di sorriso che si accompagna quasi sempre a laconicità. Perché a quel sorriso si affida l’essenza della comunicazione.
Ed eccoci alla versione del 1974, con la star delle star, Robert Redford [che quest’anno ne fa ha 81, e quando lui non ci sarà più, per me non esisterà più neanche Hollywood], Mia Farrow, Sam Waterston, Bruce Dern, Karen Black, Lois Chiles. Firma Jack Clayton, che rifiuta la sceneggiatura di Truman Capote e opta per quella di Francis Ford Coppola. Il film finalmente incassa, ma l’alchimia Redford-Farrow è sotto zero. Clayton non raggiunge purtroppo le vette di The Innocents (in italiano: Suspense, 1961), l’adattamento di ‘Giro di vite’ di Henry James.
Sempre per restare nell’ambito cinematografico, Nick, l’io narrante è al contempo regista e interprete/testimone, racconta ciò che vede, assiste e partecipa, ma anche ciò che ha sentito, ricostruendo l’intreccio per noi lettori come farebbe una voce fuori campo.
Fitzgerald glielo lascia fare in modo che la storia e il personaggio principale siano costruiti su vuoti ed ellissi, elementi strutturali quanto mai filmici – alcuni degli eventi fondamentali del romanzo non sono messi in scena, non sono rappresentati: per esempio, l’incontro tra Gatsby e Daisy, l’investimento di Myrtle, la morte di Gatsby, tutti momenti clou che rimangono per così dire ‘fuori campo’.
Nick è il punto di vista dominante, ma è qualcuno che ammette di essere allo stesso tempo dentro e fuori i fatti, è qualcuno che ci dice esplicitamente quanto il suo racconto sia in soggettiva piuttosto che oggettivo - per questo non si trattiene dal manipolare il piano temporale dei fatti, l’ordine degli eventi, spostandosi avanti e indietro nel tempo, proprio come farebbe un regista in fase di montaggio.
E proprio come un regista che interviene sulla lente e gioca con la messa a fuoco, la percezione visiva di Nick è spesso annebbiata, distorta, come sottolineano i molteplici riferimenti alla vista, allo sguardo, al punto di vista, all’illusione ottica (lo stesso passato di Gatsby riassume in sé contorni sfumati e incerti).
In contrapposizione allo sguardo del grande manifesto pubblicitario che ritorna più volte, quello del dott. J.T. Eckleburg, che dietro i giganteschi occhiali nasconde quasi sicuramente gli occhi miopi di dio (metafora della cecità eterna, la pubblicità mercifica il divino).
Questa versione nasce modesta, destinata alla tv: è il 2000, Toby Stephens interpreta Gatsby, Mira Sorvino Daisy e Paul Rudd Nick. Dirige Robert Markowitz.
Alla ricerca dell’ultima frontiera, il confine da Ovest si è spostato a Est, e in questa terra di conquista dove il sogno di felicità e redenzione è universale ed eterno, in questa vicenda semplice, per certi versi addirittura banale, eppure complessa e intricata come solo i grandi classici possono essere, in queste pagine che sono simboliche e mitiche, americane al cento per cento (Under the Red, White, and Blue sembra che fosse il titolo preferito da Fitzgerald, lo propose all’editore troppo tardi, l’opera era già in stampa) ma universali, il sogno è destinato a fallire.
Gatsby è un cavaliere medioevale senza armatura che insegue il suo sogno, il suo Santo Graal che si chiama Daisy, ma si chiama anche successo, perché senza successo Daisy non si trova, non arriva.
Il sogno americano è già marcio negli anni Venti del Novecento, quando è ambientato questo romanzo: il proibizionismo stimola e diffonde corruzione, il successo arriva in fretta con metodi spicci, non serve più il duro lavoro. Anche se si arriva in cima, ci si muove in una terra desolata come quella che circonda il drugstore del marito di Myrtle, dove la donna viene travolta e uccisa, mischiando il suo sangue alla cenere, e in ultima analisi all’immondizia.
Proprio come Lancillotto, il più celebre cavaliere medievale, Gatsby conosce l’amore sia romantico che fisico (non credo di aver mai letto una scena d’amore più erotica di quella descritta da Chrétien de Troyes tra Lancillotto e Ginevra).
On Sunday morning while church bells rang in the villages along shore the world and its mistress returned to Gatsby’s house and twinkled hilariously on his lawn.
Un esempio dell’incanto che è una grande scrittura.
Nel 2002 ci fu uno strano tentativo, Gatsby diventa nero in questo insolito remake che trasporta la storia al terzo millennio: si intitola semplicemente G, dirige Christopher Scott Cherot, e Richard T.Jones interpreta il protagonista Summer G. Esperimento curioso, ma non indimenticabile.
Nel 1922, quando iniziò a pensare al romanzo che ultimò e fu pubblicato tre anni dopo, Fitzgerald scrisse al suo editor: Voglio scrivere qualcosa di nuovo - qualcosa di straordinario, di bello e semplice e dalla struttura intricata. Parole che sono cronaca di un capolavoro annunciato.
Figlio di Henry James, o come disse T.S.Eliot, il primo passo in avanti fatto dalla narrativa americana dai tempi di Henry James, mi piace pensare che Fitzgerald battezzò la sua non eroina ispirandosi proprio alla Daisy Miller di James.
Figlio della grande tradizione, dove Nick sopravvive alla morte di Gatsby per raccontare la storia proprio come Ismael sopravvive alla tragedia di Achab, Fitzgerald seppe spostare l’asticella più in alto, più avanti.
Così in alto e così avanti che un altro sommo scrittore, J.D. Salinger, fa pronunciare al suo incomparabile personaggio, Holden, catcher in the rye, parole di lode per Fitzgerald e il suo Gatsby (Mi fa impazzire, Il Grande Gatsby. Il vecchio Gatsby. Vecchio mio. Mi fa morire, capitolo 18). E come Nick alla fine del romanzo pulisce una parola oscena scritta sui gradini della villa di Gatsby, così Holden cancella le oscenità scritte sui muri della scuola della sorellina.
A questo punto mi piace citare Calvino, le cui parole trovo particolarmente adatte a questo capolavoro: un classico è un libro che non ha mai finito di dire quel che ha da dire - Di un classico ogni rilettura è una lettura di scoperta come la prima - I classici sono libri che quanto più si crede di conoscerli per sentito dire, tanto più quando si leggono davvero si trovano nuovi, inaspettati, inediti - Un classico è un'opera che provoca incessantemente un pulviscolo di discorsi critici su di sé, ma continuamente se li scrolla di dosso…
Ed ecco l’ultima leggenda, Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan in Daisy, e Tobey Maguire fa Nick. La regia è affidata al geniale Baz Luhrmann. Siamo nel 2013. Il risultato non è memorabile.
Tentai poi di pensare a Gatsby per un momento ma lui era già troppo lontano.
Probabilmente non avevo diciotto anni quando ho letto Fitzgerald per la prima volta. I 28 racconti. Il primo, ‘Il diamante grosso come l’Hotel Ritz’, mi fulminò e mi conquistò col suo finale: I don't know any longer. At any rate, let us love for a while, for a year or so, you and me. That's a form of divine drunkenness that we can all try. There are only diamonds in the whole world, diamonds and perhaps the shabby gift of disillusion. Well, I have that last and I will make the usual nothing of it." He shivered. "Turn up your coat collar, little girl, the night's full of chill and you'll get pneumonia. His was a great sin who first invented consciousness. Let us lose it for a few hours. Chiarendo e stabilendo per me sin da allora che l’adolescenza non è un periodo della vita, ma uno stato dell’anima.
Rating: it was amazing
The True Value of Monopoly Money
Capitalism tends towards monopoly.
No capitalist welcomes a competitor or rival. Having attained wealth, the desire is to retain it, not to concede it; to increase it, not to share it.
A competitor is perceived as a threat, and will be treated like a virus invading an otherwise healthy, but vulnerable, body.
The Great American Dream
"The Great Gatsby" is often described as a paean to the Great American Dream.
This Dream supposedly sustains the average American. It offers the opportunity to achieve success, prosperity and happiness, regardless of class, status, background or wealth.
It contains a promise of upward social mobility, a reward that will be ours if we work hard enough.
We all have an equal opportunity to transcend our current circumstances.
Implicitly, if we fail to transcend, we have only ourselves to blame. We didn't take sufficient advantage of our opportunity. Everybody is responsible for their own failure.
The Great American Dream isn't far from the Objectivist Philosophy of Ayn Rand.
Stars and stripes and silhouettes and shadows.
Most readers think of Jay Gatsby as someone who took advantage of his opportunity, and made it.
In that sense, he's the epitome of the Great American Dream.
He has amassed enormous business wealth. He owns a colossal mansion on West Egg, Long Island. Every week, he holds a lavish party attended by all and sundry. The parties are the ultimate in Jazz Age glamour.
Gatsby has achieved everything material an American could want. He has realised the Long Island real estate mantra, "Vocation, Location, Ovation".
The Green Light
So what's Gatsby's problem?
Every night, Gatsby looks across the sound to a green light on a porch, where Daisy lives in her more prestigious East Egg mansion with her husband, Tom Buchanan.
Daisy is the one thing for which Gatsby yearns. She is the one thing he has sought after since he met and fell in love with her five years earlier at age 25.
"The Great Gatsby" revers that small green light. What we never see is what Gatsby's mansion looked like from Daisy's perspective at home. We aren't expressly offered a vision of Gatsby's fully-lit mansion as a counterpoint to Tom's, but that is what it is.
The point is Gatsby's achievement of the Great American Dream was not the end, as it is with most Americans, it was the means to an end, and that end was winning the hand in marriage of Daisy.
The most important thing about Gatsby's mansion, from Gatsby's point of view, is what it would look like to one woman across the sound.
Love's Labours Retrieved
Gatsby has already lost Daisy once, in 1917, when as a destitute young officer during the war, he was unable to marry her, because he could not offer her a financial security that was acceptable to her wealthy mid-west family.
Since then, he has acquired wealth, by whatever means necessary, to win her away from Tom and marry her.
The wealth was nothing to him, the parties were grotesque bonfires of vanity, designed with one thing in mind: to attract Daisy's attention and bring her, curious, within his reach.
Then, having got her within his sphere of influence, he could win her back.
"The Great Gatsby" is really about the love a man had for a woman, how he lost it and what he did to regain it.
At one point, Gatsby talks about repeating the past. I don't see him as repeating it, so much as regaining it, making up for lost time, retrieving what he felt should have been his.
"The Great Gatsby" is not so much about repetition, as it is about retrieval; not so much a remembrance of things past, as a resumption of a journey from a point in the past when the journey was broken.
Carey Mulligan as Daisy (Courtesy: The Telegraph)
The Pursuit of Another Man's Wife
At its heart, Gatsby engages in adultery with Daisy, with a view to convincing her to divorce Tom and marry him.
Many might find his conduct objectionable, except that he is young, elegant, good-looking, fabulously wealthy and, most importantly, in love with the slender Daisy.
In contrast, Tom is a brute of a man, he is an ex-champion footballer, hard and cruel. Most importantly, he has cheated on Daisy many times and now has a mistress, the stout, but sensuous, Myrtle Wilson.
Tom comes from an extremely wealthy mid-western family. Money is no object to him. Daisy might have the voice of money, but Tom has the demeanour and arrogance of not just money, but old money.
When Tom learns of Daisy's infidelity and Gatsby's takeover bid, he goes into typical capitalist mode in order to defend his wife, his asset, his marital property.
He researches Gatsby's past and theorises about how he has made his new money. He plans his counter-attack.
The narrator, Nick Carraway, watches on, not just witness to a battle between Good and Evil, but in reality a battle between two degrees of bad.
Black and white portrait of Isla Fisher as Myrtle Wilson
Tom's Defence Strategy
In the realm of love, as between two rival men, there can be no such thing as a friendly takeover bid.
There is no suggestion that Tom can allow Gatsby to have Daisy, so that he can settle for Myrtle. The latter is just a plaything, something he spends time on, because she is available and he can have her without effort.
All Myrtle ever wanted from her own husband was a gentleman with breeding. He turns out to be a mere mechanic and car salesman. He doesn't have the right status. Equally, although he is content to have her as his mistress, Tom doesn't see Myrtle as having the right status for marriage either.
Ultimately, the role of marriage is not to perpetuate love and happiness. Tom's task is to bond together two wealthy establishment families and their riches. A merger of two capitalist families moves them that much closer to monopolistic power, in the same way that the intermarriage of royal families once cemented international power.
Tom's goal is so important that it can accommodate his cruelty and infidelities, at least in his eyes.
Moreover, it allows Tom to prevail over Gatsby, who, despite his war record, his partly-completed Oxford education, his wealth, his glamour, and his apparent achievement of the Great American Dream, is not "one of us".
Ultimately, coincidence, accident and fate intervene on behalf of Tom, almost comically if it was not so sad, and he resists Gatsby's takeover bid.
Nick, the observer, the witness, the audience of this tragedy, is left disgusted.
Elizabeth Debicki as Jordan Baker
The Great American Paradox
"The Great Gatsby" is a short novel. At times, there is more telling than showing. At times, the description is too adjectival or adverbial for the dictates of current style manuals.
Take away the mansion, the parties and the glamour, and what remains comes close to the dimensions of film noir like "Double Indemnity".
While the novel is perceived as hailing the Great American Dream, the paradox is that it highlights how great are the forces that are lined up to resist the efforts of a man who aspires to the Dream, especially if that man is a trespasser who covets another man's wife, even if he loves her and she loves him.
There are flaws in Fitzgerald's writing, but they are tolerable. The story is magificent, even if, when laid out methodically, it might appear cliched. The characters, while realistic, are detailed and larger than life, certainly detailed enough to withstand the scrutiny when they are projected onto the silver screen. They are portrayed acting out their emotions in exactly the same way that we might in the same circumstances.
However, in the long run, what makes "The Great Gatsby" great is Fitzgerald's ability to both adulate and perpetuate the Great American Dream, while simultaneously subverting it.