Friday, February 29, 2008

'The Great Gatsby'

by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Fiction/Classic, 1926
Penguin UK, mm pb, 167 p.
Everybody who is anybody is seen at the glittering parties held in Gatsby’s mansion in West Egg, east of New York. The riotous throng congregates in his sumptuous garden, coolly debating Gatsby’s origins and mysterious past. None of the frivolous socialites understand him and among various rumours is the conviction that ‘he killed a man’. A detached onlooker, Gatsby is oblivious to the speculation he creates, but seems always to be watching and waiting, though no one knows what for.

As the tragic story unfolds, Gatsby’s destructive dreams and passions are revealed, leading to disturbing consequences. A brilliant evocation of 1920s high society, The Great Gatsby peels away the layers of this glamorous world to display the coldness and cruelty at its heart.
This was actually my December choice for My Year of Reading Dangerously but I stopped by the library last week and there it was and I wasn’t in the mood for Beloved by Toni Morrison, my February choice, but I did feel in the mood for something short after spending such a long time with Dickens so I thought I’d give it a try. Anyway, all these things conspired together so that I ended up reading it this month. Now that I have I actually feel slightly guilty counting it as a ‘dangerous’ read since it wasn’t at all difficult or intimidating. It was short, and concise, with vivid characters, most of them unlikeable but compelling to read about all the same, and it has left me contemplating the shallow, fickle nature of wealth, and the irrational need to show it off. Other than that, I’m not really sure what else to say about it and feel inadequate to try. I imagine there are plenty of study guides around but I think I prefer to just let it knock around in my head for awhile without trying to analyse it too deeply. It was definitely worth reading and is proof that even those books I think I won’t be interested in deserve at least a chance.

My Rating: 4/5
(#6 for 2008, My Year of Reading Dangerously #2)


  1. My husband really likes F. Scott Fitzgerald's writing, and yet, he still hasn't managed to read The Great Gatsby--which happens to be the only book I've read by the author. I did read his short story Daisy, so I guess that's not quite a true statement. I am glad you enjoyed this one. It's been years since I read it, but I really did like it.

  2. Daisy is by Henry James now that I think about it . . . So, I have only read one of Fitzgerald's writing! I think the Daisy from The Great Gatsby confused me for a second!

  3. I read this with a book group several years ago and luckily one of the members was a high school English teacher. She loved this book and taught it every year. She went on and on about all the symbolism, etc. It was great because while I had enjoyed the book I felt like I had missed a lot. Oh and isn't that a beautiful book cover you have.

  4. Yayyy! I'm glad you enjoyed it. I've read it several times now, and it gets better every time.

  5. Literary Feline- LOL! I'm terrible with names so am often confused that way too. Daisy Miller by James is also one of the Reading Dangerously choices for later in the year.
    I can't believe your husband hasn't read The Great Gatsby yet if he's a Fitzgerald fan. Isn't it considered his 'masterpiece'? ;P

    Iliana- I'm sure I missed a lot too but I also don't really feel like analysing it, at this point in time anyway. That's very cool though that you got your own little class lesson on it via your book group.
    As for the cover, it's a Penguin UK one but doesn't seem to be readily available anymore unfortunately. This was a library copy so back it goes this week.

    Andi- I may just have to get my own copy and reread it some time. It was much more readable than I'd mistakenly assumed for so long.

  6. I have to say that i found this book terribly depressing. I'm glad I read it and I do like his beautiful writing style but I'd be hesitant to pick it up again.

  7. Australian Online Bookshop - True, it really is quite depressing, and the characters mostly unlikeable, but I still found it quite a compelling read. I've yet to read anything else by Fitzgerald but really should.


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