Monday, 19 July 2010
The Great Gatsby
This was not a book which originally appealed to me. I do not find the ‘Jazz Age’ remotely appealing and as Fitzgerald is always hailed as the ‘great writer of the Jazz Age’ you can see why I had often bypassed this book. It was really only because I loved 'Tender is the Night' so much that I was suddenly on the lookout to read anything written by Fitzgerald.
For a quick summery of The Great Gatsby, Nick lives on the east coast near New York and narrates about his acquaintances with his cousin Daisy and more notably his neighbour Jay Gatsby. It is through his contact with these people and others that Nick becomes disillusioned and begins to see what all the money and glitz are hiding.
Well, on analysis this is a book about the ‘Jazz Age’ and some of the young rich Americans living at that time. While this lifestyle could be glamorous and exciting, Fitzgerald also saw a moral emptiness and hollow exuberance. But I was surprised to see so much more hidden in the depths of this short novel. I found commentary on all kinds of subjects like the rigid social classes that America had created for itself, the American dream, the pursuit of money and creating or breaking free from the past. Perhaps this depth is why this novel has become one of my favourites.
I am unable to pick a favourite character, I found them all equally fascinating and repulsive at the same time, they all played their roles perfectly and Fitzgerald once again has created a vivid and very real portrait of how I imagine the period to have been like. Underneath all the parties and trips to New York I got an overwhelming feeling of loneliness beneath it all and I was touched by the ending.
Like 'Tender is the Night' Fitzgerald used a lot of biographical elements which are projected onto some of the characters. There are too many to mention but perhaps this is one of the elements which gives Fitzgerald’s writing that indefinable ‘something’ and makes this book unforgettable?
I have been trying to think which I prefer, 'Tender is the Night' or 'The Great Gatsby'. Well there’s not much in it, in terms of writing and the way I felt while reading them I would say they are completely equal in this regard. But The Great Gatsby has given me slightly more to think about so I’ll say the Great Gatsby is my favourite Fitzgerald novel (but only just).
Would I recommend it? Yes of course. If you need further convincing, its less that 200 pages and easy to read and its a classic which you could 'tick' off your list.
Posted by Jess