The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Having read The Great Gatsby several times over the past 30 years, each time I am reminded why it is Fitzgerald’s masterpiece. It has been reviewed a countless number of times by students, scholars, and avid readers like myself, and I apologize if my review is a bit redundant.
The plot is tight, smooth, structured, and incredibly entertaining. Nick Carraway tells the story of his life during the summer of 1922… a time known as the Jazz Age and The Roaring Twenties. Nick is from the mid-west and after graduating from Yale, takes a job in New York City selling bonds. Preferring a more tranquil environment, he finds a small cottage for rent in West Egg on the Long Island Sound. In spite of the fact that the country is in a deep recession and Prohibition is in effect, Nick’s next door neighbor, Jay Gatsby, is running “party central” from his large stately mansion; grand banquets, orchestras and dancing, swimming and drinking, and partying until dawn. Nick doesn’t immediately meet his neighbor, but the whole West Egg community and the elite East Egg are talking about Gatsby.
Gatsby seems to be an enigma. Is he royalty, a spy, an Oxford Grad, an honored veteran? “He might have killed someone once”, he’s definitely rich, inherited money, or did he make his fortune in oil speculation or drugs? Or is he just a narcissistic, egotistical, flamboyant show-off?
Other characters include Nick’s filthy rich, jaded cousin Daisy Buchanan (from East Egg), her spoiled, brutish, philandering, jock husband Tom, and a common middle-class couple Myrtle and George Wilson who run the local garage and gas station. As Nick attends social gatherings with the Buchanans, he simultaneously becomes acquainted with Jay Gatsby. And Nick eventually finds himself reluctantly entangled in Gatsby’s scheme to rekindle a brief prior romantic affair with Daisy.
In many reviews The Great Gatsby is referred to as a prime example of the pursuit of “The American Dream”. Personally, I wouldn’t describe it that way. Gatsby had a chance at the real “American Dream” but it was too conventional and boring for him. This story is about Gatsby’s endeavor to break through the class barrier; to marry a woman of prominence and great wealth. But I would say above all, The Great Gatsby is a tragic love story. Sadly, Gatsby was delusional! He was shallow and superficial, and his life was a farce.
The Great Gatsby is a mere 159 pages; a novella. But what a story! The plot, the characters, and the writing style all contributed greatly towards this literary triumph. F. Scott Fitzgerald was an expert short story writer and only he could have packed 159 pages so completely with the fast paced intricate plot and the elaborately detailed colorful characters to compose this timeless classic. It rates Number 2 on the Modern Library list of greatest novels of all time.
Rated 5 Stars.
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