The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

ImageThere is an on-going trend with me and books: I mean to read them, but never get around to it. The Great Gatsby is one of those books, those famous classics that I’ve been meaning to read ever since I was old enough to want to. When I saw the trailer in the cinema I knew I had to read it before the movie came out, so I finally have.

For those who don’t know, The Great Gatsby is mainly about five people: Nick Carraway, Tom Buchanan, Daisy Buchanan, Jordan Backer (but not really) and (obviously) Jay Gatsby. When Nick comes to New York to work he ends up living next to Mr. Gatsby’s huge mansion, who is a mystery for all who attend his famous parties. Since this is an easy story to spoil I’ll stop here. Suffice to say Nick gets involved with Gatsby’s glamorous and strange life.

Across the courtesy bay the white palaces of fashionable East Egg glittered along the water, and the history of the summer really begins on the evening I drove over there to have dinner with the Tom Buchanans.

There is a great hype about this novel (see what I did there?), and I’m not completely sure it lives up to it. I liked it and thought there could be no better ending, but there were some things I could have done without. Like Daisy. To me she was a weak woman who wasn’t happy with her life, but when the chance came to change it she backed away. I honestly can’t sympathize with her much. I do pity her a bit though, but to me her problems are rich people’s problems and I find that rather hard to move me. Especially what she did in the end, I don’t think there’s any excuse for that.

I feel more or less the same about her husband, Tom. Except that in the end he didn’t really know what he was doing and ended up blaming an innocent man. Those are spoilers, so I’m not going into that, but if anyone has read it then come talk to me about it. But Nick (or F. Scott Fitzgerald, actually) rather describes both of the Buchanan’s really well here:

They were careless people, Tom and Daisy — they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made…

I think I liked Nick the most, with his honest outlook on life and his honorable intentions and his loyal character. He was someone who didn’t belong in that abundant life, and so through him we see how deplorable some of these rich people are. He’s also quite funny at times and I think he’s the best narrator F. Scott Fitzgerald could have chosen between the available characters, like here:

To a certain temperament the situation might have seemed intriguing — my own instinct was to telephone immediately for the police.

I don’t have much of an opinion on Jordan Backer, except that she was integral to the story in her own way. Gatsby though, I have a lot of feelings about him. During most of the book it was curiosity and a sort of awe, then a kind of disappointment with who he actually turned out to be and finally pity. Lots and lots of pity. He was a man in love with an idea, and that kind of love is not meant to last. Gatsby lived on hope alone and he was lost when it was gone. And to complete these passages about characters, here’s one on him:

“The poor son-of-a-bitch,” he said.

I also loved F. Scott Fitzgerald’s writing, he painted such a complete and thorough picture that there was almost no need to imagine it. The glittering parties, the drunken people and the overflowing abundance reeked from every word. I think that was my favorite part.

People disappeared, reappeared, made plans to go somewhere, and then lost each other, searched for each other, found each other a few feet away.

So these are my thoughts on The Great Gatsby. If you’ve read it too what do you think of it? If not, do you plan on seeing the movie anyway?

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