Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald
Year Published: 1925
Blurb: Young, handsome and fabulously rich, Jay Gatsby is the bright star of the Jazz Age, but as writer Nick Carraway is drawn into the decadent orbit of his Long Island mansion, where the party never seems to end, he finds himself faced by the mystery of Gatsby's origins and desires. Beneath the shimmering surface of his life, Gatsby is hiding a secret: a silent longing that can never be fulfilled. And soon, this destructive obsession will force his world to unravel.
In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald brilliantly captures both the disillusionment of post-war America and the moral failure of a society obsessed with wealth and status. But he does more than render the essence of a particular time and place, for in chronicling Gatsby's tragic pursuit of his dream, Fitzgerald re-creates the universal conflict between illusion and reality.
Me: A reread that was completely worth it. I hadn't quite grasped the true magnitude of what Fitzgerald had put into words.
The Ups: I have always been quite skeptical of American literature. It sounds horrible to say, but I just found American literature slightly inferior to British literature (in terms of classics) even without having read many American classics in the first place. (The Old Man and the Sea, The Great Gatsby, Slaughterhouse-Five, Huck Finn...yeah that's about it) To me, my favorite classic storytellers are all british (The Brontes, Dickens, Huxley) and I was sick of the "American" tale. Adventure, materialism, bigotry, yay!
Obviously this was me being hypocritical. Because with rereading (shoutout to Roshni for making me) this book, I realized that my prejudice was completely unjustified. This is an American book, and it is a BEAUTIFUL American book. It captures the terrifying essence of what it feels like to be constantly searching for something to fill up a hole in one's life, and not knowing how to fill it. It shows the indifference of people to others' lives and concerns as they begin to be so wrapped up in what they are lacking and missing.
Gatsby is obviously the most fascinating character in the book (will get to him soon), but I was captivated by Daisy Buchanan. Something about her entrancing laugh and contagious light personality and her inability to truly face up to one decision just added up to a complex character. Reading about her, I felt as though this was a girl who ran away from her problems. She didn't face heartbreak, or guilt, or sorrow head-on, but rather swept all of them aside with her constantly bubbly facade. And I began to see her as immature and very imperfect; not at all the way Gatsby saw her.
I also think that having Nick Carraway as the narrator was perfect to tell this tale and convey the message. If it was written in third person, I don't think I would have felt the personal connection, which was necessary to evoke the end emotions of emptiness and meaningless confusion.
Jay Gatsby was...something. Just picture this: Jay Gatsby, a friendly but quiet man stands in the doorway, looking out at the great party he hosts every weekend. He sees more unfamiliar faces than familiar ones, and never does he find who he is searching for: Daisy. But he tries to bring her to him by proving his newfound wealth (he had been extremely poor when they first met), and doesn't realize something other than time stands between them.
That is Gatsby. And to me, his desperate search for something to cling to is so realistic. I see it in the workings of finance and economics, I see it in the lives of men, women, teenagers, I see it in the failure of the so-called "American Dream". It is frightening (and a bit genius) that a book written in 1925 can still resonate so clearly across the world.
Overall: A powerful, subtly sorrowful novel that will have you wondering about the loss of meaning in our lives.
“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
"A new world, material without being real, where poor ghosts, breathing dreams like air, drifted fortuitously about..."
Rating: 5 kisses!