“Can’t repeat the past? …Why of course you can!”
Title: The Great Gatsby
Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald
Publication details: UK: Transatlantic Press, 2012. (First published 1925)
The gist of it:
- Poor boy meets rich girl.
- Rich girl marries rich man. Heartbreak galore.
- Poor boy à ??? à Rich boy
- Rich boy and rich girl reunite. Trysts ensue.
- Drinking. Car Accidents. Revenge. Sadness.
I actually read this book for my pre-university course, and have flipped through my little paperback more times than I would normally do. I’ve analysed the characters and morals in class, and conjectured the numerous messages hidden within its pages. Even so, I’d like to give my personal opinion on the book in a more casual way.
Some say the great Gatsby is a love story, and others, a symbol of the depravity of the times (the times being the 1920s). Though the scholastic side of me does concur that the book clearly depicts the corruption and carelessness of society, at first read, and subsequent reads, I still see at its core a love story. Or rather, a story of infatuation.
Because, hooboy is Gatsby infatuated with Daisy or isn’t he?
The guy has got it bad for her. And I’m not entirely sure he’s justified in his love. It was really, practically, a love at first sight kind of thing. But I suppose, love conquers all.
Except in this case it doesn’t.
Daisy is frivolous, careless, and rather ditzy in a way. She’s likable enough, just because of her gentle and bubby nature, but she’s also just so…UGH. I understand that she’s caught in a difficult position here, but the way she treated Gatsby near the end was just plain cowardice. Daisy, you’d be an okay acquaintance, but a friend? Not so much. No wonder even her own cousin (Nick) can’t stand her.
Speaking of Nick…
Talk about crushing hard on your heterosexual friend. Whether Nick is gay/straight/bi/attracted to wooden chairs what have you, there’s no doubt that he’d serve as a much better love of Gatsby’s life.
“He smiled understandingly-much more than understandingly. 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 eternal world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favour. It understood you just as far as 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.”
– Nick being totally heterosexual.
“They’re a rotten crowd’, I shouted across the lawn. ‘You’re worth the whole damn bunch put together.”
– Nick to Gatsby.
The guy is down-to-earth, honest, and cares way more about Gatsby then Daisy ever could. Alas, there’s a reason this story is tragic and not magic.
Plus, a gay character in a book in the 1920s? Let’s get real here.
The prose is beautiful of course. F. Scott Fitzgerald is a master of his time, and his writing really resonates the atmosphere of the jazz era. I always love reading books set in the past when the dialogue is done just right. It makes it so easy to immerse yourself into that time, and see real humans having day-to-day conversations…instead of characters being written for a book.
And of course, there is no shortage of meaningful quotes. Having studied The Great Gatsby in class, those quotes were basically the foundation of our literature essays. They were really beautiful though. Thankfully studying this book didn’t actually make me hate it, as usually happens when one is forced to study something.
“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
“I hope she’ll be a fool — that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.”
“The loneliest moment in someone’s life is when they are watching their whole world fall apart, and all they can do is stare blankly.”
“And I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties there isn’t any privacy.”
“You see I usually find myself among strangers because I drift here and there trying to forget the sad things that happened to me.”
“I wasn’t actually in love, but I felt a sort of tender curiosity.”
“In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars.”