- Published: April 10th, 1925
- Publisher: Charles Scribner’s Sons
- Genre: Social Commentary/Classic
- Format: Audio Book
- Quote: “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” —Source
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“A portrait of the Jazz Age in all of its decadence and excess, Gatsby captured the spirit of the author’s generation and earned itself a permanent place in American mythology. Self-made, self-invented millionaire Jay Gatsby embodies some of Fitzgerald’s– and his country’s– most abiding obsessions: money, ambition, greed, and the promise of new beginnings. Gatsby’s rise to glory and eventual fall from grace becomes a kind of cautionary tale about the American Dream.” — Source
Review of the Characters:
Jay Gatsby– Where do I start with poor Gatsby? Was he in love or was he just so driven by a single dream that it ruined him in the end? One thing I know for sure is that Daisy did not deserve him. He was a delightful man– all politeness and formalities yet at the same time mysterious. Nick says this of Gatsby when they first meet and I think it’s an accurate description of Gatsby’s character:
“He smiled understandingly– much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four of five times in a life. It faced– or seemed to face– the whole eternal world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression of that, at your best, you hoped to convey.” — Source
One thing said about America is that you can become whatever you want to be if you only work hard enough. Gatsby attains this, granted not honestly, but attain it he does however it is all done for a singular goal: to win Daisy back. The man comes within a fingertips reach only to watch it slide out of his fingers and explode.
“The loneliest moment in someone’s life is when they are watching their whole world fall apart, and all they can do is stare.” — Source
He was an enigma, a man possessed and one doomed from the very beginning.
Daisy Buchanan– I wanted to like Daisy even though she was vain and naive. I saw the beauty in her character– a woman who treated life as a song. She had a brightness about her that seemed to radiate sunlight and through her naivety she possessed a child like wisdom, which is often quite wise. She says this that struck a chord with me and turned me towards liking her:
“I’m glad it’s a girl. And I hope she’ll be a fool– that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful fool.” — Source
However, I can’t forgive her for Gatsby. She loved him, I don’t deny that but she broke him and had no trouble walking away from the mess. Every time we see Daisy she is clad in white which is a fitting color for her. It portrays all the things that encompass who she is: vain, naive and thoughtless.
“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.” — Source
Review of the Story:
The story is not one I enjoyed particularly. I know it is the great American novel but I feel that’s due to Fitzgerald’s prose and not the actual story. The pacing is slow due to the constant back and forth shifts in time, making it hard to follow and honestly it felt like watching a sad story only get more and more sad with each page. It was depressing and not fun to watch play out.
Review of the Writing:
This. The writing is the reason why I will be recommending this book to everyone! Fitzgerald’s prose is beautiful and his ability to weave in symbols and such is a skill envied by many. I particularly love this piece:
“Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter–tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther…. And one fine morning– So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” — Source
His writing not only translates to today’s time but exudes a vibrance that stands out from other novels. He makes use of his fine skill and touches on several things within his short novel such as the comparison between West and East Egg. East Egg represented the eastern side of the world, the elder part where tradition is praised while West Egg represented the new world on the western side where status and money did not necessarily go hand in hand. Opportunities are what define money, not status. He also uses colors to represent several things also, the main one is the green that symbolizes money and greed. It’s amazing how much he packed in this little novel but what’s even more amazing is that it never once overwhelms you.
While I didn’t completely fall in love with this novel I have to recommend it purely for the sake of exposing you all to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s writing. His beautiful prose is one that will resonate with you and leave you in awe. Read The Great Gatsby and get lost in the words.
P.S.– My next audio book will be The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum