Gerald Sinstadt's Reviews > The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
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Oct 12, 2011

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bookshelves: fiction-general
Read from October 12 to 13, 2011

The Great Gatsby is one of those books one should have read: Pride and Prejudice, Great Expectations, War and Peace, Madam Bovary - make your own list. Perhaps posterity will look kindly upon a work that has come to be admired as a ground-breaking American novel but today can seem no more than a somewhat dated exposé of a decadent lifestyle. Hollywood has colonised the territory so comprehensively that it no longer startles.

Much may depend on what the reader draws from a book that begins like a scene from a Noel Coward comedy - Private Lives, perhaps - before ending with aspirations to be a Greek tragedy. The trouble is Gatsby, Tom, Daisy and the rest have nothing heroic about them, so their downfall has no grandeur. We are left with the undoubted originality of an author whose style lives longer in the memory than the characters he creates. Three stars for Fitzgerald but not for Gatsby.
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Roger Brunyate I wanted to see how an Englishman would respond to this talismanic American novel—a talisman to Americans, that is. I know I would have made little of it before coming over here, or indeed for most of the 44 years I have lived in America. I suggest that the fact of the characters having nothing heroic about them may well be essential to its point—and to its Americanness, both. At the risk of immodesty, might I refer you to my own review, especially its final paragraph?


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