F. Scott Fitzgerald
In 1922, F. Scott Fitzgerald announced his decision to write “something new–something extraordinary and beautiful and simple and intricately patterned.” That extraordinary, beautiful, intricately patterned, and above all, simple novel became The Great Gatsby, arguably Fitzgerald’s finest work and certainly the book for which he is best known. A portrait of the Jazz Age in all of its decadence and excess, Gatsby captured the spirit of the author’s generation and earned itself a permanent place in American mythology. Self-made, self-invented millionaire Jay Gatsby embodies some of Fitzgerald’s–and his country’s–most abiding obsessions: money, ambition, greed, and the promise of new beginnings. “Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter–tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther…. And one fine morning–” Gatsby’s rise to glory and eventual fall from grace becomes a kind of cautionary tale about the American Dream.
It’s also a love story, of sorts, the narrative of Gatsby’s quixotic passion for Daisy Buchanan. The pair meet five years before the novel begins, when Daisy is a legendary young Louisville beauty and Gatsby an impoverished officer. They fall in love, but while Gatsby serves overseas, Daisy marries the brutal, bullying, but extremely rich Tom Buchanan. After the war, Gatsby devotes himself blindly to the pursuit of wealth by whatever means–and to the pursuit of Daisy, which amounts to the same thing. “Her voice is full of money,” Gatsby says admiringly, in one of the novel’s more famous descriptions. His millions made, Gatsby buys a mansion across Long Island Sound from Daisy’s patrician East Egg address, throws lavish parties, and waits for her to appear. When she does, events unfold with all the tragic inevitability of a Greek drama, with detached, cynical neighbor Nick Carraway acting as chorus throughout. Spare, elegantly plotted, and written in crystalline prose, The Great Gatsby is as perfectly satisfying as the best kind of poem.
I’ll admit that the only reason I wanted to read this book is because Leonardo Dicaprio played a main character in the movie. I did not know what to expect of “The Great Gatsby” because I did not have to read it in high school like many of my friends. The only thing I had known about the story previously was that it was based in the ’20s. During and right after I read the book I was confused, I didn’t fully grasp what had happened but, after a few days it began to sink in and I appreciated the tale more. I am glad I decided to read this novel and I wish I had picked it up sooner than now. On goodreads I rated this book 4/5 stars, while I enjoyed the story, it did not enthrall me completely. I can see why this novel is a classic.
On the other hand, the movie that came out this summer was utterly fantastic. I loved the setting, the clothing, the actors. It was brilliantly portrayed and illustrated the novel beautifully. I’d give it 5/5 stars!!