The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- Method of Obtaining: I purchased my copy.
- Published by: Scribner
- Release Date: 1925
In 1922, F. Scott Fitzgerald announced his decision to write “somethingnew–something extraordinary and beautiful and simple and intricately patterned.” That extraordinary, beautiful, intricately patterned, and above all, simple novel became The Great Gatsby, arguably Fitzgerald’s finest work and certainly the book for which he is best known. 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
Wow, what a difference a few years makes. In preparation for the upcoming movie, I picked up The Great Gatsby as the first pleasure of the summer. I remember being in a bit of a fog when I read the story back in 2010, and I think I sped through it quickly sometime in late 2011, but this time.. this time there was something special.
I firmly believe that there are times when the right book is picked up for that time in your life. As I look forward to changes, from graduation to a move thousands of miles away, I needed a story that not only had lush imagery, but also heart-breaking tragedy. It wasn’t necessarily that I felt strongly for any of the characters, although I did feel a bit of an affinity for Daisy Buchanan this time around, but instead I felt sorrow for how empty the life of Gatsby was. I think this is also because I have been immersed in the HBO series Boardwalk Empire (and that series first made me aware of the 1919 World Series story, which was mentioned in Gatsby!) and I have been made super-aware of how lavish life isn’t all its cut out to be. Money does not power make, and this story is a prime-example of that. For all of his money, Gatsby never actually achieved or acquired what he wanted, and then when he made that decision to enter his pool in an attempt to actually enjoy a part of his life…well, you know. (Trying to stay away from spoilers – even though this is an older book.)
I cannot wait to see the spin that Leo DiCaprio puts on Gatsby and I think that the descriptions and over-the-top style that makes this book such a beautiful thing will translate well to the screen.
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