Mike's Reviews > The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
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Feb 22, 2012

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Read in February, 2012

I know - how did I make it out of high school without having read this already? I enjoyed the writing style and dark wit, but the novel's end message was ultimately a letdown. At first I thought the book was a hair shy of being a great classical tragedy, with a noble figure brought down by one tragic flaw. (In Gatsby's case, an obsession with rewriting the past.) My favorite quality in a tragedy is that it lets you pine for what could have been, if only such and such foible hadn't interfered.

Upon reflection, I realized this was more what I wanted the book to be about than what it was. After reading some outside analysis, I realized that this was not the tale of a great romantic yearning thwarted by a personality defect, and that both Gatsby and Daisy were fundamentally flawed. I realized that the book was about disillusionment that the American dream had reverted to crass materialism. In this light, details that I'd dismissed as insignificant or hard-to-fathom made sense in retrospect.

The wit and opinionated quality of the narrator's voice still appeal to me, as does the author's talent with language. (The "valley of ashes" visual was particularly memorable.) And as I'm from Great Neck, a.k.a. West Egg, the story's setting had some personal appeal. But ultimately the author's message was too dark and depressing for the novel as a whole to resonate with me.


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