Hi Virtually Readers! I read a classic, and then I reviewed it. Also I normally would do a more interesting post on Tuesday, but our internet had a hard (and therefore entirely non functioning) week so then I didn’t write a post. I will by Friday, of course 🙂
Title: The Great Gatsby
Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald
Genre: Adult contemporary?
Themes: The American dream, relationships, wealth, people being more than people and this is bad
I’m definitely going to reread this. It wasn’t like the plot (as it were) was entirely scintillating. But it somehow contained or depicted an idea that went beyond the pages in a beautiful (and terribly sad) way.
Basic summary: Nick Carraway is intrigued by his neighbor Gatsby, whose incredible parties are famed throughout New York. As they become better friends, Nick learns there is more to Gatsby than the parties—he carries deep love, grief, and some secrets about his identity that weigh heavy.
I actually just learned precisely what the American Dream was now, maybe 2 months after reading this book (I wrote the rest of the review at the time, for the record). It is apparently the idea that if you work hard you can get anywhere. The main theme of this book basically debunks it.
While the language took a chapter or two to get used to; it was incredible. Nick would introduce different aspects of the story with this gorgeous voice. At first each part seemed irrelevant but the story came together perfectly, like a jigsaw puzzle or a tapestry. I never felt there was an unnecessary word.
One the themes was like the moral of Paper Towns—don’t make someone bigger than a person. That Gatsby does this to Daisy, the girl he loves, is explicitly stated. He imposes unreasonable expectations on her, arisen from his unfulfilled desires, but disappoints himself (and her) when Daisy fails to meet them.
But in a way, Gatsby is also bigger than a person. Most attendees of his parties don’t know him—they are there for the fun, not the company. Most aren’t even invited! He’s a complete enigma. To most people he knows, he’s no more than the rich party host. He becomes more than this, but there’s an aura of sadness, because almost nobody else really knows him except Nick. There’s also the question of whether Gatsby doesn’t want to be known, or if other people don’t want to know him. If his whole backstory—which we as the readers are told—is known, will he still be popular?
The Great Gatsby is about love and broken relationships. It’s about how sometimes all that effort, all the parties and the elaborate persona, doesn’t pay off. In the end, Gatsby pays the ultimate price for his relationship with Daisy (an entirely noble sacrifice), as does Myrtle with Tom.
Outside (but simultaneously part of) the action is Nick. He carries an awareness of the sadness of Gatsby’s life, but also an inherent goodness, trying to do the right thing for his friend. He’s the partial and impartial observer all at once.
I don’t know if I fully got The Great Gatsby (actually, I do—I didn’t) but I loved the way the writing worked with the plot and characters to say entirely true things about identity, love, and death.
characters: 5/5 (much shown not told)
Plot:2/5 (the book didn’t have much)
Setting: 3/5 (not important; much assumed)
Have you read this? How do you feel about reading classics (it was one of my reading goals, although I may be kind of failing at the nonfiction section)? What happens when people are more than people? (bad things, I assume)