Sunday, March 13, 2011

An in-between read: The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald




... is a letdown. Truly I wonder who makes up the 1001-books-you-need-to-read-before-you-die list, because some books just shouldn't be on there.

Maybe this novel was outrageously popular the time it came into printing, but I didn't see what all the hubbub is all about.
It is so with many classics, and this is no exception.

What the novel has to say about itself
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.

 And now what I think
I find this to be complete rubbish. It isn't written in crystalline prose, and it isn't the best kind of poem. I wrote better poems in kindergarten. 
I find the characters to be distant, non-living, non-breathing superficial party-going bland words in a book. Yes, that would be adequate to describe them.
What is supposed to be the search for the American Dream and a story about a impossible love is just blah blah blah, I wrote it in 1922 and therefore it is good.

I realize many would disagree with me, on this subject, but please remember that I am living in a free country, so therefore have the luxury of expressing my opinion.
If it doesn't coexide with yours, then I'm agreeing that we are disagreeing.

But I wouldn't recommend this, I would rather write letters to the schoolboard if my children should have to read this as an assignment, knowing there is so much more truly wonderful and symbolic prose out there.

If you want to read a novel about an empty search for the American Dream, one that truly grips you by the throat, instead of seeming a written episode of The Bold and the Beautiful, read Grapes of Wrath by John Steinberg. That is literature, and how do I know this? Because it isn't compared to a poem.

1 comment:

  1. I agree. I read it a second time recently because so many people have told me how amazing it was. Realistically, I found that a lot of the times I simply didn't know what the author was saying. The characters were at best adequate, and I have no idea why Nick Carraway is telling the story and not Gatsby, even if Gatsby does die. It should have been third person not first person. Thanks for the review.

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