Saturday, November 6, 2010

November's books

#6, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925)

This, too, was a book in my Modern Novel class (what a class!) but I had read it before in high school. Like many high school novels, however, I ignored the quality and whined about the assignment. Truthfully, I wasn't old enough to understand how flat out brilliant this story is.

Like The Sun Also Rises, this is a story written in the first person, this time by the narrator Nick Carraway, who is an observer and not a participant in the main story of the novel. It is also about the lost generation of post-WWI, but the one that stayed home, or came home, after the war ended.
It is a real modern tragedy--the story of a man, Gatsby, who falls and loses everything because he is a modern man, stuck between his truth and the identity he can create over post-war wealth. To realize his complete Horatio Alger/American dream, he must reclaim his lost love. Daisy, the dream, is a false dream that betrays Gatsby. Disaster strikes, and balance returns to the Modern World.

Unlike most of what are called tragedies in the modern world, this is so, in that it evokes in the reader a sense of pity and fear--Aristotle's catharsis--because of the twists of fate, the failures of the human heart, and the desperate desire of Gatsby to make all his boyhood dreams of wealth and love and acceptance come true. Simply gorgeous writing, Fitzgerald at his young best, confident and compassionate and bold.

(And terrible movies: don't bother!!!)

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