The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s third book, stands as the supreme achievement of his career. This exemplary novel of the Jazz Age has been acclaimed by generations of readers. The story is of the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his new love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, of lavish parties on Long Island at a time when The New York Times noted “gin was the national drink and sex the national obsession,” it is an exquisitely crafted tale of America in the 1920s.
The Great Gatsby is one of the great classics of twentieth-century literature.
I read this book for my English class and it really did live up to its name. The imagery, the characters, the context–it was all so captivating.
Okay so first: Nick Carraway. I honestly don’t know what to make of him. On one hand, he was witty and reflective, and I loved how he was so unproblematic. However, I personally felt like he kept coming off as a little full of himself. I don’t know if this was because this book was written in his perspective (so of course he, the narrator, would seem confident), but it just felt like as Nick kept asking questions “innocently,” he seemed more and more arrogant. Was this meant to add to his charm? Did I completely misunderstand Nick’s character? Who knows. Overall, though, Nick made for a really intriguing narrator and I still loved him. On the opposite side of the spectrum was Jay Gatsby, who I also absolutely loved (as I’m sure many do)! He was by no means innocent, yet he just seemed so naive and child-like in his ambitions and flashiness, and it was all so tragic, yet endearing. Even other characters, such as Daisy and Jordan, were so complexly developed and well-written. Overall, the characters were all wonderful in spite of–or perhaps because of–how strange and often frustrating they were.
Also, I just loved how this book reflected the 1920s and Jazz Age. As I mentioned in a previous post, I loved learning in U.S. History about the Lost Generation writers and the defining roles they played in recording history. However, I think this is the first Lost Generation book I actually, thoroughly read, and I was so enchanted by it. While there’s always drama in books, Fitzgerald used the drama to really characterize the hedonistic climate of the 1920s–both the lively aspects and the grotesque ones–and to comment on themes like morality and class. I found it inspiring because I felt it highlighted the importance of writers and the way they capture the culture of their time through the stories they write, in a way that history textbooks just aren’t able to. Another thing that was interesting was how the book paralleled the Fitzgeralds’ love story, in all of its passion and tragedy.
The imagery was so vivid and the language, poetic, and I often found myself lost in the words, even if I didn’t understand every aspect of the book. Personally, it felt a bit more like a short story than a novel because it seemed to be more character and theme-driven than plot-driven.
All-in-all, I’d highly recommend this book. I’m definitely going to reread it so that I can catch any details I missed, but until then, I plan on indulging in the Gatsby memes I’ll finally be able to understand. 🙂
“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.”Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby