Thursday, 28 August 2014

Review #14 - The Great Gatsby

Title: The Great Gatsby
Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald
Published: 1925
Publisher: Charles Scribner's Sons

A brief synopsis; (Via Goodreads)
The world and his mistress are at Jay Gatsby’s party. But Gatsby stands apart from the crowd, isolated by a secret longing. In between sips of champagne his guests speculate about their mysterious host. Some say he’s a bootlegger. Others swear he was a German spy during the war. They lean in and whisper ‘he killed a man once’. Just where is Gatsby from and what is the obsession that drives him?

Oh, Gatsby, you beautiful little fool. This is a book that I do not think I will ever tire of- as soon as I finished I wished to go back to page one and start all over again.

This was one of the books that I watched before I read- and my God, was the film excellent. Leonardo was a fine Jay Gatsby, something I can now confirm thoroughly after having read the book. I can also say the same for Nick Carraway, and Jordan Baker, and well, everyone really. It really helped me visualise the novel, since I could put faces to names.

It was, however, a little irritating since I could not stop reading the book in their voices. Which is fine, except hearing Spiderman narrate the life of Jimmy Gatz is not exactly how I anticipated this novel to go.

But now, onto the novel. I was expecting it to be longer, you know? My teacher was like "Soandso finished it in a day." But it was 180 pages long! That's, what, one and a half, two hours reading? So, yeah, easily attainable in a day- one sitting, even.

For some reason, all my favourite books tend to be short in length, and I have no idea why. Maybe its because of how effective the message is when it is- not condensed, but, well, concentrated I suppose is the right word. There's no elaborateness to the plot, nothing that makes it feel like dead weight in my hands. (I have nothing against long novels, absolutely nothing at all).

I'm saying that The Great Gatsby is a favourite book because really, it is. It's wonderful.

Set in the 1920's, this book is a whole jump away from modern times. I know a little about the 1920's, since my History class covered it, but that's not to say that what I read wasn't shocking, because it was. Not shocking in a bad way, but just, really surprising. It is so different, it's almost maddening, because it is almost the same. Minus the advance in technology, it is pretty much no different at all to modern day living, in my opinion.

Nick Carraway, the protagonist, is exceptionally ordinary. He isn't rich, he just so happens to be friends with the rich. Which, of course, acts as a gateway for him into the world of the higher society. Then there's Jay Gatsby, whom much of the novel centres around.

A charming young man, who throws lavish parties and spends the whole time out of the limelight, who is deeply infatuated with Nick's cousin, Daisy. He's also Nick's neighbour, and, eventually, his friend. Best friend, probably, as I can't imagine either of those people have many friends.

It's not because they're bad people- I do not think anyone in this book is bad. I think many are inherently selfish, but not necessarily bad. Daisy and Tom are selfish- so selfish, in fact, that they are blinded by it. They do not even see the wider scope of things.

Jay Gatsby is selfish. He is caught in the past, where he has become his own demon; haunted by what he once had, forever caged in the world he imagined for himself those many years ago. It's plausible that this is an onset of the war, caused by grief and his own version of PTSD.

But then again, it's plausible that Jay Gatsby has become so disillusioned by his way of life, by the character that he has become and the world he has adopted, that he no longer knows what is real and what is happening before him. Like I said, it doesn't make him a bad person. He's not completely good, but I don't believe he is bad.

I think Fitzgerald was trying to send a pretty obvious message about history, and the past, with this piece. One of the most famous quotes from this novel is quite possibly: "[You can't repeat the past] Why, of course you can." I'm not saying this is the message- well, I suppose, in a way, I am.

Obviously, what has happened once can happen again, and events are no exception. (Unless they're something like the holocaust. I am a firm believer that no one in the world will allow something as undeniably horrific as that to occur again).

But they will never happen in exactly the same way. Gatsby states that he is going to fix things to exactly the way they were before- which is impossible, and he should know better.

Over all, this book is full of wonder and provides a fantastic introspection of the way the rich and the not so rich lived their life. It is not pretentious in any way, and highlights just how mad the world can seem when one man is stuck in the past, and how it can result in quite possibly the worst mistake of his life.

My favourite quote;
Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic 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 father... And one fine morning-
    So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.
Star Rating: 5/5

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