source: personal copy
title: The Great Gatsby
author: F. Scott Fitzgerald
published: April 10, 1925
genre: literary fiction/classics
first line: In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.
rated: 4 out of 5 stars
The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s third book, stands as the supreme achievement of his career. This exemplary novel of the Jazz Age has been acclaimed by generations of readers. The story of the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, of lavish parties on Long Island at a time when The New York Times noted “gin was the national drink and sex the national obsession,” it is an exquisitely crafted tale of America in the 1920’s.
Oh my Gatsby. It is always hard for me to review the classics because I cannot do them justice. The thing with this one is that I both liked and disliked it. I mainly enjoyed it. At just 189 pages, I read Gatsby slowly within the span of a few weeks. I think I will read it again in a year or so, maybe then I will grasp it better.
There is something to be said about a literary work of art that endures the passage time. The Great Gatsby was published in April of 1925 and is still read and enjoyed today.
The story takes place during the summer of 1922, during the Roaring Twenties and is set in a wealthy town in Long Island. It is narrated by Nick Carraway, a Yale grad and now Gatsby’s next-door neighbor.
As we see the story through Nick’s eyes, we meet a cast of characters including his cousin Daisy Fay Buchanan and her husband Tom. Tom and Daisy are not what you would call a loving couple and Tom has a mistress named Myrtle. Daisy is Gatsby’s long lost love. The war separated them years ago and Daisy married Tom while he was away.
Nick finally gets invited to one of Gatsby’s lavish parties and becomes friends with him. As the story flows we see more about the elusive Gatsby and his life and background and learn where his wealth came from.
I am a sucker for long lost loves who are reunited but somehow still have the odds stacked against them. Timing is everything and sometimes timing just stinks. Gatsby does everything he can to win Daisy back and just to see her once more. So the love story here grabbed me and made me love the character of Jay Gatsby himself. His love for Daisy was selfless and enduring. The quote below where he recalls his kissing Daisy was among my favorites in the book.
The reason I disliked reading Gatsby was the pacing of it. It might have been because Nick seemed bland to me. I just couldn’t connect with him. I also think it was because we are seeing the story through his eyes. I wanted to see it from Gatsby’s point of view since so much of it is around his life. Getting the story from Nick however, continues to keep Gatsby at an arms length, mainly elusive, mysterious. The author brings the 1920’s setting to life and I did enjoy that.
This passage is beautiful, as so many were throughout the book.
They had never been closer in their month of love nor communicated more profoundly with one with another, than when she brushed silent lips against his coat’s shoulder or when he touched the end of her fingers, gently, as though she were asleep.
p.158, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
F. Scott Fitzgerald dedicated The Great Gatsby to his wife Zelda. I want to read Tender Is the Night which I’ve heard is partially based on the author’s own life.
Although I found the pacing slow at times, I truly enjoyed this one. I found myself re-reading and savoring several passages. The last line in the book is wonderful too.
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.
F. Scott Fitzgerald was one of the major American writers of the twentieth century — a figure whose life and works embodied powerful myths about our national dreams and aspirations. Fitzgerald was talented and perceptive, gifted with a lyrical style and a pitch-perfect ear for language. He lived his life as a romantic, equally capable of great dedication to his craft and reckless squandering of his artistic capital. He left us one sure masterpiece, The Great Gatsby; a near-masterpiece, Tender Is the Night; and a gathering of stories and essays that together capture the essence of the American experience. His writings are insightful and stylistically brilliant; today he is admired both as a social chronicler and a remarkably gifted artist.
Disclaimer: This review is my honest opinion. I did not receive any kind of compensation for reading and reviewing this book. I am under no obligation to write a positive review. I purchased my copy of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.