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Nick Carraway, a young man from Minnesota, moves to New York in the summer of 1922 to learn about the bond business. He rents a house in the West Egg district of Long Island, a wealthy but unfashionable area populated by the new rich, a group who have made their fortunes too recently to have established social connections and who are prone to garish displays of wealth. Nick’s next-door neighbor in West Egg is a mysterious man named Jay Gatsby, who lives in a gigantic Gothic mansion and throws extravagant parties every Saturday night.
Nick is unlike the other inhabitants of West Egg—he was educated at Yale and has social connections in East Egg, a fashionable area of Long Island home to the established upper class. Nick drives out to East Egg one evening for dinner with his cousin, Daisy Buchanan, and her husband, Tom, an erstwhile classmate of Nick’s at Yale. Daisy and Tom introduce Nick to Jordan Baker, a beautiful, cynical young woman with whom Nick begins a romantic relationship. Nick also learns a bit about Daisy and Tom’s marriage: Jordan tells him that Tom has a lover, Myrtle Wilson, who lives in the valley of ashes, a gray industrial dumping ground between West Egg and New York City. Not long after this revelation, Nick travels to New York City with Tom and Myrtle. At a vulgar, gaudy party in the apartment that Tom keeps for the affair, Myrtle begins to taunt Tom about Daisy, and Tom responds by breaking her nose. As the summer progresses, Nick eventually garners an invitation to one of Gatsby’s legendary parties. He encounters Jordan Baker at the party, and they meet Gatsby himself, a surprisingly young man who affects an English accent, has a remarkable smile, and calls everyone “old sport.” Gatsby asks to speak to Jordan alone, and, through Jordan, Nick later learns more about
his mysterious neighbor. Gatsby tells Jordan that he knew Daisy in Louisville in 1917 and is deeply in love with her. He spends many nights staring at the green light at the end of her dock, across the bay from his mansion. Gatsby’s extravagant lifestyle and wild parties are simply an attempt to impress Daisy. Gatsby now wants Nick to arrange a reunion between himself and Daisy, but he is afraid that Daisy will refuse to see him if she knows that he still loves her. Nick invites Daisy to have tea at his house, without telling her that Gatsby will also be there. After an initially awkward reunion, Gatsby and Daisy reestablish their connection. Their love rekindled, they begin an affair. After a short time, Tom grows increasingly suspicious of his wife’s relationship with Gatsby. At a luncheon at the Buchanans’ house, Gatsby stares at Daisy with such undisguised passion that Tom realizes Gatsby is in love with her. Though Tom is himself involved in an extramarital affair, he is deeply outraged by the thought that his wife could be unfaithful to him. He forces the group to drive into New York City, where he confronts Gatsby in a suite at the Plaza Hotel. Tom asserts that he and Daisy have a history that Gatsby could never understand, and he announces to his wife that Gatsby is a criminal—his fortune comes from bootlegging alcohol and other illegal activities. Daisy realizes that her allegiance is to Tom, and Tom contemptuously sends her back to East Egg with Gatsby, attempting to prove that Gatsby cannot hurt him. When Nick, Jordan, and Tom drive through the valley of ashes, however, they discover that Gatsby’s car has struck and killed Myrtle, Tom’s lover. They rush back to Long Island, where Nick learns from Gatsby that Daisy was driving the car when it struck Myrtle, but that Gatsby intends to take the blame. The next day, Tom tells Myrtle’s husband, George, that Gatsby was the driver of the car. George, who has leapt to the conclusion that the driver of the car that killed Myrtle must have been her lover, ﬁnds Gatsby in the pool at his mansion and shoots him dead. He then fatally shoots himself. Nick stages a small funeral for Gatsby, ends his relationship with Jordan, and moves back to the Midwest to escape the disgust he feels for the people surrounding Gatsby’s life and for the emptiness and moral decay of life among the wealthy on the East Coast. Nick reﬂects that just as Gatsby’s dream of Daisy was corrupted by money and dishonesty, the American dream of happiness and individualism has disintegrated into the mere pursuit of wealth. Though Gatsby’s power to transform his dreams into
reality is what makes him “great,” Nick reﬂects that the era of dreaming— both Gatsby’s dream and the American dream—is over.
Having reread this book for the first time in 20 years, I can confirm that there's a reason that it's considered one of the very best American novels. However, my reaction to the story was different than when I first read it in high school. I recall that back then I was hoping that Daisy and Gatsby's love story would ultimately yield a happy ending. Now, I found them both to be such shallow creatures that they inspired no pity. While I considered the characters to be emotionally stunted, that dooesn't mean I was not impressed with Fitzergerald's skillful rendering. As in most forms of art, in literature it is more difficult to accurately and interestingly portray nothingness than to describe a richly endowed subject. At this more cynical age, I found Daisy to be a remarkable emotional void, and Gatsby's quest to pour all of his hopes and dreams into such a shallow cauldron only confirmed his own vapidity. One thing that hasn't changed in all these years is my amazement at Fitzgerald's ability to set a scene. His descriptive passages are truly poetic, and his command of word choice in unparalleled. All this made for a stimulating and delightful read. It's difficult to give any even-handed critique F. Scott Fitzgerald's standard-setting Jazz Age novel since it was required reading for most of us in high school. However, if you come back to it as a full-fledged adult, you'll find that the story still resonates but more like a just-polished cameo piece from a forgotten time. At the core of the book is the elaborate infatuation Jay Gatsby has for Daisy Fay Buchanan, a love story portrayed with both a languid pall and a fatalistic urgency. But the broader context of the setting and the irreconcilable nature of the American dream in the 1920's is what give the novel its true gravitas. Much of this is eloquently articulated by Nick Carraway, Gatsby's modest Long Island neighbor who becomes his most trusted confidante. Nick is responsible for reuniting the lovers who both have come to different points in their lives five years after their aborted romance. Now a solitary figure in his luxurious mansion, Gatsby is a newly wealthy man who accumulated his fortunes through dubious means. Daisy, on the other hand, has always led a life of privilege and could not let love stand in the way of her comfortable existence. She married Tom Buchanan for that sole purpose. With Gatsby's ambition spurred by his love for Daisy, he rekindles his romance with Daisy, as Tom carries on carelessly with an auto mechanic's grasping wife. Nick himself gets caught up in the jet set trappings and has a relationship with Jordan Baker, a young golf pro. These characters are inevitably led on a collision course that exposes the hypocrisy of the rich, the falsity of a love undeserving and the transience of individuals on this earth. The strength of Fitzgerald's treatment comes from the lyrical prose he provides to illuminate these themes. Not a word is wasted, and the author's economical handling of such a potentially complex plot is a technique I wish were more frequently replicated today. Most of all, I simply enjoy the book because it does not portend a greater significance eighty years later. It is a classic tale that provides vibrancy and texture to a bygone era. It is well worth re-reading, especially at such a bargain price.
Scott Fitzgerald, a monumental talent who only occasionally got things working right, made Gatsby great by the extraordinary invention of Nick Carraway. Carraway as narrator provided the exact perfect pitch: more awestruck than he would admit, more moral than it was fashionable to reveal -- always objective and distanced and subtle and charming, genuinely decent and impeccably well mannered, a little dangerously smitten himself by the lovely but corrupt Jordan Baker. Alexander Scourby, one of the greatest reading voices of his era (overlapping Fitzgerald's enough to know and feel it all) here does Carraway in a way that cannot, therefore, again be quite equalled. Imagine having a recording of a great contemporary actor reading Ahab's speeches in Moby Dick, and one begins to appreciate the gift that we only now have in recorded sound, something we are already quite casual about. But there is much more here than historical accuracy. Scourby's voice wraps around every phrase of Fitzgeral's text with both an actor's professionalism and a good reader's care, making it not only uncannily his own monument but also a monument in audio book history. It sets the bar, and anyone interested in the recorded voice as an art form should own this for repeated learning. I listened to this book over a few nights with my wife, after having read it first some sixteen years ago. It is a masterpiece, and known widely as such, but what surprised me on hearing it was how the book I'd remembered as terribly romantic was actually rather clear-eyed and dark. My wife, who had never read it, listened spell-bound, and at the end burst into tears at the sadness of it. A word about Scourby as reader - he is restrained but emotional, captures the personality of each character with a slightly different tone, and - most importantly for me - brings out the fact that the closing pages, which are often quoted out of context as deeply romantic, are in fact painfully cynical, a voice of disenchantment about the cost of America, not its promise. A masterpiece on the page and on tape. Can't recommend it too highly.
The first time I encountered "The Great Gatsby" it was as an assignment in a high school English class. My recent re-read occurred after my son had read it in his high school English class. The reread brought back memories of a form of academic study from which I have been separated for many years. "The Great Gatsby" is an excellent book in which to study the writer's art. In this short book the reader can detect a collection of symbolic details which make the story much more than the tale which appears on the surface: the ash heap, as a symbol of the waste of American society; the green light on Daisy's dock, which means so much to Gatsby as a symbol, until he again meets Daisy, when it again becomes, for Gatsby, as for everyone else, just a light. The characters all play their roles in the development of the story. Shallow figures fill Gatsby's parties, but show their true level of concern for him when they all absent themselves from his funeral. The class distinctions between Daisy, a true upper class maiden, who can never lower herself to accept Gatsby, the aspirant to a class rank which wealth and parties cannot buy. Gatsby's source of wealth is hinted at by his association with Meyer Wolfsheim, the gambler who fixed the World Series. Like others, he will associate with Gatsby in life, but has no time for him in death. The unnatural core of Gatsby's world is illustrated by his act of moving east, rather than the traditional westward migration, in order to achieve freedom and advancement. Tom and Daisy Buchanan represent old money, which will not accept Gatsby and, in the end, destroys him.
Nick Carraway is the one character in the book who develops his own moral sense. His role as narrator permits us to see Gatsby's world through his eyes. It is he who sees, and is repelled by, the rotten cores of Gatsby and the worlds in which lives and into which he aspires. He sees the corruption deep inside Tom and Daisy Buchanan. Most of all, we see the innate goodness in Tom. Observing, but not entering Gatsby's world, he is able to understand and judge it. His final evaluation of Gatsby's world is seen when he abandons it all to return to his native Midwest. As I re-read "The Great Gatsby" I remembered what I had not liked about it the first time I read it. The causal acceptance of infidelity seems at odds with what I have always viewed as the ideal as well as the reality. As one studies the commentaries of this book, with all of its symbolisms, I often wonder if the symbols were really in F. Scott Fitzgerald's mind as he wrote the book, or whether they are constructs of later commentators. Either way, they give the book a depth which so many others lack. When my son speaks of other books he reads in English class, he always says "It's no Great Gatsby." The more I think of it, few of novels are. I have always looked forward to reading the classic book The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. When I finally had time to read it, I wasn't disappointed. The Great Gatsby, written in 1925, is a fictional tale that takes place during the American Jazz Age. The story is set in the eastern U.S. and follows the journey of a young man named Nick. The book trails Nick from his home in the West to his new life in West Egg, New York. Nick becomes involved in the social scene is West Egg, which is mainly centered on the weekly extravagant parties thrown by the incredibly wealthy and strangely mysterious Jay Gatsby. As the book progresses, Gatsby's past is slowly unraveled. Nick witnesses Gatsby's gradual admittance of his significant secret. He discovers that Gatsby is deeply in love with Daisy Buchanan, a beautiful socialite, trapped in a miserable marriage to an unfaithful husband. Though Nick does not want to be involved in any way with the illicit love affair between Daisy and Gatsby, he is gradually takes a larger part in Gatsby and Daisy's dangerous romance. When Jay and Daisy decide to declare their love to one another, it leaves Gatsby in an unforgettable and risky situation that changes the lives of all involved. The Great Gatsby was one of the most interesting books that I have ever read. It included a beautiful love story, danger, suspense, tales of true devotion and friendship, and a wonderful, thought-provoking commentary on the society in post-World War I America, a time of excess and confusion. I have learned several lessons from the novel, whether they are about loyalty or remaining true to oneself. I would recommend this book to anyone above the age of thirteen because of some parts of the novel that might be difficult to grasp. The Great Gatsby is a truly wonderful book, and sure to be enjoyed by many for many years to come. This is a marvelous look into the green-eyed monster of sexual jealousy. It's ripe with symbolic imagery from Fitzgerald's personal agony over his wife adulterous affair. Everyone knows the superficial lit class interpretation of the novel; idealistic Gatsby pursues fortune in vain attempt to dazzle and win golden girl, only to have her reject him. Conclusion: classic condemnation of the hollowness of upper class materialism. Rubbish! The story is not political. It is personal pure and simple! It would have taken place anytime, any place those two particular personalities came together. In real life Fitzgerald won his Zelda. But he then promptly and insouciantly cheated on her. She got him back by cheating on him. In his journals Fitzgerald wrote that something died at this time. Shortly afterward the couple moved to Paris. Does this not parallel George Wilson's reaction to his wife's affair in The Great Gatsby? Yes, Wilson is also Fitzgerald, the tortured, jealous part of Fitzgerald who mourns the loss of his wife even as he realizes her for what she is. Myrtle is the low class floozy that Zelda has become in Fitzgerald's eyes by cuckolding him.
Wilson tries to hold on to his wife by locking her up until he can transact a business deal (buying the coupe) and thereby have the money to take her "west", something they had long talked about but which he is now going to make her do. Analogously, Fitzgerald sold short stories (seeing himself as stooping to low class laborer by writing for commerce instead of art's sake?)to pay his and Zelda's way to Paris, removing her from her paramour's proximity. Who actually kills Gatsby? The symbol of idealism and optimism (Gatsby)is killed by the symbol of grief and jealousy (Wilson). Fitzgerald was disillusioned by Zelda's adultery not class materialism. Who does that leave Daisy/Zelda with in the end? Tom, the lout, the woman beater, the snob. Realizing, to his relief, that Daisy will never actually leave him, Tom becomes smug. Go ahead, he tells Gatsby (or any man who now idolizes Zelda), flirt with her all you want. She'll always come crawling back to me! If Gatsby is how Fitzgerald wants to be, Tom is the husband Fitzgerald actually is. Daisy, Myrtle and Jordan are all Zelda; Daisy the debutante on a pedestal, Myrtle the common floozy, Jordan the sophisticate pursuing her own identity and career. But Jordan has no address of her own. She lives off other people and cheats on her golf game, just as Fitzgerald claimed that Zelda stole from him material for her own writing career. This is the world as seen through the eyes of a self-centered, tyrannical egoist, but with one saving grace, Nick the observer, the recorder. Nick is the writer in Fitzgerald, and for all his faults as a man, Fitzgerald was one heck-of-a- writer. As you can tell by many reviews which surround this one, our world is filled with minds who probably feel that the height of pathos is reality tv, or having to wait in line more than 5 minutes at an ATM. But about Fitzgerald--I'm reminded of Eliot's phrase "infinitely gentle, infinitely suffering..." (paraphrasing). His descriptions and evocations here are gorgeous, tender-and most of all subtle, which is why Gatsby is lost on so many modern readers. All of this novel is excellent and parts of it absolutely shimmer--Nick's description of the way Gatsby smiled at him. Look at this... "It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced---or seemed to face---the whole external world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just as far a you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey." Who wouldn't want to believe in that smile? Or take, for example, the scene in which Gatsby shows his closetful of rare, extravagant and wonderful shirts to Daisy and Daisy weeps....not because of his sartorial excellence but because she knows even at that point, in her heart, that she will forever be stuck with that clod Tom. This is about the American Dream, and how the pursuit of it can kick the living s**t out of you....how friends come and go...and how society often rewards generosity with disdain. I beg you to read this book, because it is good for your soul.
Just my opinion.
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