Rolls's Reviews > The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
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it was amazing
Recommended for: Everybody and their mother

"The Great Gatsby" is considered by many to be the zenith of American fiction writing in the last century. I won't say that it is the best American novel I've read but I will say it is probably the most perfect.

Along with J.D. Salinger, Fitzgerald has got to be my favorite writer of fiction. As opposed to Hemingway's bluntness, and Faulkner's artiness, Fitzgerald's prose seems(to paraphrase Michael Chabon) to rain down from style heaven. His style in fact is like the ladies he writes about: cool, lean and absolutely enchanting. He would never dream of overwriting and knows exactly when to hold back for maximum effect. His use of the language is assured and consequently eminently readable. For that alone this should be considered the Mona Lisa of prose.

What is astounding though is how he puts his sparsely elegant style to use giving his characters shade and depth. Fitzgerald is a true student of humanity and his skills of observation are razor sharp. He sums up his characters in sentences that read like aphorisms bulging with truth about the human condition. There's not a page goes by I'm not gasping at the depth of his vision and the economy he uses to express it.

So far I've dwelt on how he wrote and not on what he wrote. People who'd back another nag in the Great American Novel derby knock Fitzgerald's sophomoric (their word not mine) obsession with romance between men and women. They reduce his works to the level of melodramatic tear jerkers. This is a gross simplification of his talents. Yes "Gatsby" focuses on a doomed love affair but it does so to illustrate the errors in thinking that he felt marred his generation.

Gatsby is about the hollowness of the American dream as dreamt in the twenties. Fitzgerald looked around him (and in the mirror)and saw men and women locked in a frenzied and ultimatley doomed race for speed, money and sin. Gatsby and Daisy's love is doomed because their values have been distorted by money and comfort and opulence. They cannot see the depths because they are too easily distracted by shiny surfaces. When Daisy cries as Gatsby shows off his elegantly tailored shirts because she has never seen clothes so beautiful sums up perfectly how for her exteriors matter most. This is at the heart of the tragedy that unfolds before us in this delicious little novel.

There is no denying this is one of the GREAT BOOKS. If you haven't read it do so. I dare you to not fall in love with it.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
January 1, 2005 – Finished Reading
March 6, 2007 – Shelved

Comments Showing 1-17 of 17 (17 new)

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message 1: by Judith (new) - added it

Judith Yes his style is great

Mary Hunter Insightful and fun to read. Rolls's is sharp and I imagine talking books with him would be a delightful experience. Great job!

Tracy O Wow! What a great review. Thank you.

Maciek Brilliant! Reflects my feelings perfectly.

message 5: by Sam (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sam An astute, insightful and well written review. You've made me see something I hadn't before, that Daisy cries about the shirts but not (as far as we know) about the woman she mowed down. Thank you. I'm copying your review for my files!

Gabby This is, for me, a very insightful review that approaches the book from an entirely different perspective than my own. I think you've given Fitzgerald credit for reporting on the times in which he lived. I viewed it as Fitzgerald's association with the elitist system he writes about. I cannot change my opinion of the book as a novel, but I do appreciate your take on it and can certainly admit that maybe I missed something.

message 7: by Shoba (new) - added it

Shoba Sriaiyer You write well too.

Krystle This is exactly perfect, this review!

Phil Great review. I find that some criticise Gatsby for not being what the critics say it is, rather than what it actually IS - ie they review the book's reputation, rather than the words in front of them. It's a perfect gem, putting a tiny portion of society under a microscope to expose its hollow heart. To criticise it for not being all-encompassing is like criticising Jane Austen for her "square inch of ivory" or The Grapes of Wrath for being just about poor people. What *IS* "The Great American (English / Irish / French ....) Novel" anyway? Nothing more than an impossible chimera and any author chasing it tends to disappear up their own fundament. I say again, great review - thanks for putting it up :)

Tracey aching to read this and I have the most delicious edition to read too

Edison Carter Another explanation for Daisy's cry would be that she finally realized how far he had gone for her, and suddenly felt ashamed she didn't waited for him. Her shame was so strong, so painful, all she was capable to respond to Gatsby (who asked her why 'what is wrong') was that apparently trivial remark. She had no idea what to say except something she thought would be 'proper'.

Jennifer This was a really good review. Well written and expressed. Nice.

message 13: by Likitha (new)

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message 14: by Quo (last edited Feb 05, 2019 04:56PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Quo "Roll": An excellent, insightful review of a novel that many revere, some dislike & others parody. Still, I suspect that there is something quintessentially American about the book, with its suggestion that the United States (quite certainly among other countries) offers great potential for personal transformation. Bill

Stephen Hayes It's a long time since I read it (60 years ago), but your review reminded me of what I thought when I read it.

message 16: by Quo (new) - rated it 5 stars

Quo Stephen, The fact that you recall much of anything about "The Great Gatsby" after 60 years is a credit to your memory. When I reread the novel after only about 30 years, I felt that the long-deceased author had somehow managed to drastically revise the book, not being willing to admit that with age, I was "translating" Fitzgerald's book in a very different way & enjoying the novel much more with a 2nd reading. Bill

Stephen Hayes Bill. I read it first as a university set text for English literature. What I recall most about it was that it was about obsessive love that had tragic consequences. I suppose what appealed to me about it at the time was that I had been separated from someone I had had an obsessive crush on, and wondered what would happen if I were to meet them again. I strongly identified with the characters in the story, to that extent at least. Because of that I ptobably missed a lot of other aspects of the book, and looking back I realise that it was also about the lifestyles of the rich, which I will never be, so if I were to reread it now, I'd probably see it very differently.

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