May 28, 2012

F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby

F. Scott Fitzgerald
At the end of the book I'm left feeling there was much I missed. Fitzgerald's writing can be very subtle, sometimes fiercely poetic, but if you don't pay attention a hint or human emotion will pass and come back to haunt with significance.

The story centers around Jay Gatsby an ambitious, mysterious fellow who calls everyone 'old sport.' He stands out amid the other characters as the only one with a purpose: a naive ideal of reliving the past.

"He had come a long way to this lawn and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him. "

What drives him is a strong love for Daisy, now Tom Buchanan's wife. It's irony that when Daisy takes the wheel she runs into what will bind her to Tom for the rest of her days: guilt.

There's an air of despondence and disquiet from the beginning. The sense that their society has a shallow undercurrent; they don't know how to live or enjoy life. They just float along, which encapsulates what's been coined as 'the lost generation.'

Daisy represses her development as a character. She is often described as having a musical voice, 'full of money' but I think it must be full of potential. But she doesn't have enough strength to let it glow, she's barricaded being and doing what society expects. She puts on a show and enjoys the limelight it gives her.

She knows there's more to life, but doesn't do anything to find out what. Gatsby tries to show her and encourage her, but even his outlook is skewed, missing a level of morality.  She was never fully committed and after his death she's like a snuffed out candle, hardening back into how she was before the fire.

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

The narrator, Nick Carraway, is the only one who sees and changes and throws his care for society away. Perhaps a hidden message in his last name?

9 comments

Peppermint Ph.D. said...

I read this one a long time ago in high school; yesterday I watched the new trailer for the new Gatsby movie so it's definitely time for a re-read of this classic. The movie looks over the top and if I remember correctly this story is definitely just that :)

Cassandra said...

This is another one of the books I've been meaning to read in ages. It's really time for summer break! I have to hurry up before the movie is released I guess :)

Lisa May said...

I remember that feeling, though it's been years since I read The Great Gatsby. I think that may be the only one of his books I've read, it didn't immediately send me off in search of more.

Fanda said...

Good thought about Nick's last name, I haven't thought about that.

I love The Great Gatsby too, and plan to re-read it in the future. My fave reading so far in the 2012!

Elisa said...

I never pondered at Nick's last name in that way, interesting.

It's a great novel!

Alexis said...

I recently reread Gatsby for first time since American Lit in high school. It's such a great novel and there so many layers to it to unpack. I love the last quote you highlighted--it's one of my absolute favorite quotes from the novel. Not sure why but it's always stuck with me--perhaps because it seemed to so perfectly encapsulate Tom and Daisy's ethos and disregard for others.

JaneGS said...

This is one of those books that can stand up to multiple rereadings. It's one of my favorites, and I think the closing paragraphs are among the best I've ever read.

>There's an air of despondence and disquiet from the beginning.

I agree--there's an elegiac tone throughout.


>She was never fully committed and after his death she's like a snuffed out candle, hardening back into how she was before the fire.

I like the way you put that--you're right, for all her fragility she's got a hard core.

Vintage Reading said...

Oh you've made me want to re-read this now. One of my all-time favourites. I'm also very fond of Tender is the Night. Never thought about Nick's last name before, intriguing.

Brona Joy said...

Whenever I post a review on The Classics Club I try to make time to visit everyone who also read the same book to say 'hi'!
The list of readers of GG is now rather long and most seem to agree on how wonderful it is :-)
Here's my review
I think rereading Gatsby allowed me to pick up many of the nuances I missed as a younger reader.

May 28, 2012

F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby

F. Scott Fitzgerald
At the end of the book I'm left feeling there was much I missed. Fitzgerald's writing can be very subtle, sometimes fiercely poetic, but if you don't pay attention a hint or human emotion will pass and come back to haunt with significance.

The story centers around Jay Gatsby an ambitious, mysterious fellow who calls everyone 'old sport.' He stands out amid the other characters as the only one with a purpose: a naive ideal of reliving the past.

"He had come a long way to this lawn and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him. "

What drives him is a strong love for Daisy, now Tom Buchanan's wife. It's irony that when Daisy takes the wheel she runs into what will bind her to Tom for the rest of her days: guilt.

There's an air of despondence and disquiet from the beginning. The sense that their society has a shallow undercurrent; they don't know how to live or enjoy life. They just float along, which encapsulates what's been coined as 'the lost generation.'

Daisy represses her development as a character. She is often described as having a musical voice, 'full of money' but I think it must be full of potential. But she doesn't have enough strength to let it glow, she's barricaded being and doing what society expects. She puts on a show and enjoys the limelight it gives her.

She knows there's more to life, but doesn't do anything to find out what. Gatsby tries to show her and encourage her, but even his outlook is skewed, missing a level of morality.  She was never fully committed and after his death she's like a snuffed out candle, hardening back into how she was before the fire.

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

The narrator, Nick Carraway, is the only one who sees and changes and throws his care for society away. Perhaps a hidden message in his last name?

9 comments:

Peppermint Ph.D. said...

I read this one a long time ago in high school; yesterday I watched the new trailer for the new Gatsby movie so it's definitely time for a re-read of this classic. The movie looks over the top and if I remember correctly this story is definitely just that :)

Cassandra said...

This is another one of the books I've been meaning to read in ages. It's really time for summer break! I have to hurry up before the movie is released I guess :)

Lisa May said...

I remember that feeling, though it's been years since I read The Great Gatsby. I think that may be the only one of his books I've read, it didn't immediately send me off in search of more.

Fanda said...

Good thought about Nick's last name, I haven't thought about that.

I love The Great Gatsby too, and plan to re-read it in the future. My fave reading so far in the 2012!

Elisa said...

I never pondered at Nick's last name in that way, interesting.

It's a great novel!

Alexis said...

I recently reread Gatsby for first time since American Lit in high school. It's such a great novel and there so many layers to it to unpack. I love the last quote you highlighted--it's one of my absolute favorite quotes from the novel. Not sure why but it's always stuck with me--perhaps because it seemed to so perfectly encapsulate Tom and Daisy's ethos and disregard for others.

JaneGS said...

This is one of those books that can stand up to multiple rereadings. It's one of my favorites, and I think the closing paragraphs are among the best I've ever read.

>There's an air of despondence and disquiet from the beginning.

I agree--there's an elegiac tone throughout.


>She was never fully committed and after his death she's like a snuffed out candle, hardening back into how she was before the fire.

I like the way you put that--you're right, for all her fragility she's got a hard core.

Vintage Reading said...

Oh you've made me want to re-read this now. One of my all-time favourites. I'm also very fond of Tender is the Night. Never thought about Nick's last name before, intriguing.

Brona Joy said...

Whenever I post a review on The Classics Club I try to make time to visit everyone who also read the same book to say 'hi'!
The list of readers of GG is now rather long and most seem to agree on how wonderful it is :-)
Here's my review
I think rereading Gatsby allowed me to pick up many of the nuances I missed as a younger reader.

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