Let me start by saying that my reading of this book was written in the stars. A few days ago, I had clicked on this link of Hemmingway giving some advice to Fitzgerald read here and I loved it. I liked the gangster way of shaking Fitzgerald and pushing him to reach his potential. So, when it was recommended to me two days ago, I instantly liked it. Even the fact that it is American together with my not very comforting brush of experience with Flannery O Conner’s work( don’t worry Ife. Taste gon’ grow with tym’ ) did not do anything to make me feel I would not like this articulate American piece of classic. This is what biases are made of…
The Great Gatsby is a phenomenal representation of the roaring twenties in America. I felt the language was breezy, upbeat type of magical poetry( ehem* …) Fitzgerald really had a sophisticated way of writing.
Narrated by Nick Carraway, a New York bond sales and war veteran who graduated from Yale, it plunges into the lives of the mysterious Gatsby who lives next door to Nick in a lavish house, Daisy Fay Buchanan, his second cousin , Tom her husband, and Myrtle Wilson, his mistress. All this takes place on Long Island, a fictional village of west egg.
I feel this book portrays finely the quest for happiness by people who feel that you only get to live once, so you might as well damn the consequences. Affairs were spoken of without the element of shock, a very accommodating atmosphere was provided for it to flourish. There is no mention of moral values, just personal happiness— a characteristic of Modernist literature.
Paired wrongly,this is the story of Tom and Daisy; the girl whose voice was made of money “Her voice is full of money,’ he said suddenly. That was it. I’d never understood before. It was full of money—that was the inexhaustible charm that rose and fell in it, the jingle of it, the cymbals’ song of it…. High in a white palace the king’s daughter, the golden girl….
She had married Tom because Gatsby had had no money at the time. Now, after running a successful bootlegging business, he had come back after five years to change the past and to bring Daisy back. Always trying to compensate for not having social connections and an old family to back his new found wealth, he threw very lavish parties and put it forward that he was an ‘ Oxford man’.
Tom has an affair with Myrtle right under her husband’s watch. I think one thing to note is the how levels of desirability rise when chasers are many. Daisy was a girl pursued by many men and this validated Gatsby’s desire for her. I wonder why value increases in our eyes the moment things become scarce…human nature at work again.
A well written paragraph I want to share:
Through all he said, even through his appalling sentimentality, I was reminded of something—an elusive rhythm, a fragment of lost words, that I had heard somewhere a long time ago. For a moment a phrase tried to take shape in my mouth and my lips parted like a dumb man’s, as though there was more struggling upon them than a wisp of startled air. But they made no sound and what I had almost remembered was uncommunicable forever
This was when Gatsby had reunited with Daisy in Nick’s home.
Statements from Nick that I found humorous:
———I’ll tell you a family secret,’ she whispered enthusiastically. ‘It’s about the butler’s nose. Do you want to hear about the butler’s nose?’
‘That’s why I came over tonight.’
2)To a certain temperament the situation might have seemed intriguing—my own instinct was to telephone immediately for the police.
3)Their interest rather touched me and made them less remotely rich—nevertheless, I was confused and a little disgusted as I drove away. It seemed to me that the thing for Daisy to do was to rush out of the house, child in arms—but apparently there were no such intentions in her head
4)No … I just remembered that today’s my birthday.’ I was thirty. Before me stretched the portentous menacing road of a new decade. It was seven o’clock when we got into the coupé with him and started for Long Island. Tom talked incessantly, exulting and laughing, but his voice was as remote from Jordan and me as the foreign clamor on the sidewalk or the tumult of the elevated overhead. Human sympathy has its limits and we were content to let all their tragic arguments fade with the city lights behind. Thirty—the promise of a decade of loneliness, a thinning list of single men to know, a thinning brief-case of enthusiasm, thinning hair.
5)Taking out my handkerchief I wiped from his cheek the remains of the spot of dried lather that had worried me all the afternoon
This story ends tragically…Gatsby is murdered. Myrtle dies in an accident and Nick returns home disillusioned by the West. A great book to study the human spirit of the roaring twenties.