Friday, August 10, 2012
Book Review of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald
Type of book: 1920s, wealth, post world war I, love, waiting, forever, values
Year it was published: 1925
The Great Gatsby captures all the romance and glitter of the Jazz Age in its portrayal of a young man and his tragic search for love and success. It is a rare combination: a literary masterpiece- and one of the most popular novels of our time.
I am not sure if Fitzgerald tried to go deeply into his characters' psyche or not, but if he did, I didn't see it. There seems to be little to no change in the personalities, but instead they strike me as some sort of drifters who don't let anything affect them. When I did a little research for this book, like the previous novels, this was also partly biographical. (Fitzgerald's wife broke up his engagement, although except him she didn't marry anyone.) The lifestyle that Gatsby and Daisy tried to forge didn't seem to work, and values as well as morals are non-existent. There is some sort of surrealism about the book that's hard to put to words. The characters had few roles to play and were static instead of dynamic.
(From page 160)
""I spoke to her," he muttered, after a long silence. "I told her she might fool me but she couldn't fool God. I took her to the window"- with an effort he got up and walked to the rear window and leaned with his face pressed against it- "and I said, 'GOd knows what you've been doing, everything you've been doing. You may fool me, but you can't fool God!"
Standing behind him, Michaelis saw with a shock that he was looking at the eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg, which had just emerged, pale and enormous, from the dissolving night.
"God sees everything," repeated Wilson.
"That's an advertisement," Michaelis assured him. Something made him turn away from the window and look back into the room. But Wilson stood there a long time, his face close to the window pane, nodding into the twilight."
This is in first person narrative from Nick's point of view which is unusual because the title is The Great Gatsby and not The Great Nick. In a way, Nick is the onlooker into the brief life of Gatsby Possibly the author wanted for the readers to see Gatsby from outside rather than inside, in a detached sort of way. Up until the last chapter the story seemed clear and well written. The last chapter was a confusing jumble for me, and I have a difficult time understanding it.
Born in 1896 in St. Paul, Minnesota, F. Scott Fitzgerald was educated at Princeton, which he left in his senior year (1917) to join the army. At one of his army posts, near Montgomery, Alabama, he met Zelda Sayre, whom he subsequently married. His first novel, This Side of Paradise, was a great critical and financial success. The Fitzgeralds lived in Paris for several years among the expatriates of the twenties. Upon their return to the United States, Fitzgerald completed Tender is the Night and was at work on The Last Tycoon when he died, in Hollywood, in 1940.
I found that the book has a strange beauty of its own, and up until the last chapter it was easy to understand. I didn't appreciate the Jewish thing, such as the fact that the Jewish character, Wolfheim? operated something called a Swastika company. (Anybody else found it creepy, that F. Scott used this symbol fifteen years before WWII began...? He died in 1940.) Its also interesting that while the story was titled The Great Gatsby, the point of view we see it from is Nick. There is also something "Jewish" about Gatsby's real name, Gatz. While I feel that the novel didn't teach me anything, the writing style amazed me because it seemed as he wasn't writing to show off, but instead was writing for the reader's sake. I recall that my younger sister had to read this for school, and when I asked her about it, she said the book was boring, while I found the book interesting. (If I recall right, I couldn't stand Ender's Game, while she liked it...hehe)
4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)