REVIEW: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby is by all means and American literary masterpiece. The story is set during the Roaring ‘20s and is told by Nick Carraway, a modest young man who happens to move next door to Jay Gatsby. Gatsby seeks Nick out and invites him to parties at his Long Island Sound mansion, to swim in his pool, to dine with him, but most importantly, to bring his cousin Daisy Buchanan by.

Gatsby knew and loved Daisy in another life, before he was rich enough to be considered a genuine prospect by her. He spent the last many years getting wealthy and positioning himself in her social circle to he prove he was worthy of her and could claim her love; to prove to himself that she never loved Tom and only married him because of his wealth, that in reality she had only ever loved Gatsby.

None of the characters in Fitzgerald’s novel are particularly likable, but that’s part of the book’s draw. The idle rich shouldn’t really be likable in literature, they need flaws to provoke such breathtaking sentences – “They smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money and vast carelessness…” What depth would there be in writing about perfect, likable, rich people?

Despite the wealth, the lavish parties, the “right” guests, things, education and manners, he doesn’t succeed in stealing Daisy from Tom. There are whispers of how he got his money, shady characters in his past and a final hit-and-run for which he takes the fall. Despite Gatsby’s defiant, “Can’t repeat the past?  Why of course you can!”, in the end, he painfully knows going back in time to create a future isn’t possible.

Fitzgerald is an eloquent writer whose prose rivals the slow melodic flow to Southern life and the beauty of its enchanting magnolia blooms and moss covered willow trees blowing in soft, warm breezes. To read his words is to feel just how beautiful the English language can be. 

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