Callista 's Reviews > The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
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** spoiler alert ** Re-read 12-14 January, 2012. First read 1987. Read again c. 1990/1.
Before I re-read this, I didn't remember a lot of the particulars, only Gatsby's obsession with Daisy and eventual fate, some appalling behaviour by a number of people, a certain elegance in the prose, the famous last line--and the name Jordan Baker (only because I unkindly nicknamed an annoying high school classmate that behind her back).
I was too young the first couple of times I read this to really appreciate it. Fitzgerald's writing is more elegant and poetic than I recalled--it's amazing. The story is sharp yet melancholy and more timeless than I remembered. The technological details may change with time; but awful, shallow, fickle people like Tom, Daisy, Myrtle, Jordan, and Gatsby's various hangers-on exist today. You can see them on so-called "reality" shows. The story shows the dark side of the American dream.
Tom's small-mindedness and hypocrisy are astonishing. Any sympathy I tried to have for Daisy as a woman trapped by stupid social conventions went out the window as she stood for Tom's lousy treatment of her, strung Gatsby along, then failed to take responsibility for the accident and walked away from everything as if nothing had happened. She deserves to be stuck with a boor like Tom.
But I find Gatsby and Nick sympathetic. Gatsby's misguided, obsessive love for Daisy and his deluded quest of creating a life to impress her are so heartbreakingly pathetic. He actually believes Daisy will choose him. He may have done illegal things but still doesn't come off as someone completely careless like Tom or Daisy. And the fact that only the servants, Nick, and one other person attend Gatsby's funeral when hundreds of people were happy to attend Gatsby's parties is so very sad. Nick is the only person who really sees the starry-eyed, foolish young man within Gatsby. Nick deludes himself for a while as he tries to fit in with the fast crowd, but there's still a naïveté about him. He's not a judgmental person, so he floats along with a collection of cruel and flighty people--but, in the end, he is not one of them and never was. For a moment, I wanted to fault Nick for not reporting what he knows to the police, but then I realised that no one would probably believe him and the worst case scenario is Tom would destroy Nick for speaking up. No good would come of it. Nick figures out what Gatsby never could understand and manages to rescue himself, which gives Gatsby's tragedy some meaning.

Note added 28 May '13--I recommend the Baz Luhrmann-directed film if you generally like his style and like the book. (I've liked all of Luhrmann's movies since Strictly Ballroom. There are always a few scenes that go over the top, but I like the general effect.) I thought the cast did a good job depicting the characters, and Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire especially illuminated the tragic element of the story.
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Quotes Callista Liked

F. Scott Fitzgerald
“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby


Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Meg ♥ Love me some Gatsby! :-)


Callista Well, as you can now see in the updated review, I like it more than I'd thought I did.
Looking forward to the upcoming movie version with Leonardo Dicaprio, Tobey Maguire, and Joel Edgerton. (Though sad that Joel will have to play such a boor.)


Callista Thanks!


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