Although I have heard for some time about The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, I have only recently managed to get around to reading this critically acclaimed novel. In fact, what prompted me to dive into it was another book that I recently read, Norwegian Wood, by Haruki Murakami (in which the protagonist, Toru Watanabe, professes his undying admiration for this tome, which earns him immense respect from his snooty, [over]privileged classmate Nagasawa). So it was with eager anticipation and high expectations that I began reading The Great Gatsby. Off the bat I found the story captivating, despite it’s somewhat unfamiliar and unwieldy 1920’s prose. Mr. Jay Gatsby, to whom the novel owes its name, is introduced by the narrator as a mysterious, almost mercurial denizen. Gatsby’s name is never far from the lips of the socialite ‘in-crowd’ in New York, who religiously attend his over-the-top bashes, yet hardly know who he is nor have a clue from where his flashy wealth originates. Consequently, Gatsby is the center of countless rumors and heresay which stoke the flames of his mystique. As the narrative unfolds, the myth and legend of Gatsby is slowly peeled back, through a series of events, revealing his humble beginnings, faux genteel character and singular obsession; Daisy, onstensibly the great love of his life. Everything that Gatsby has accomplished in his life, from his trappings of wealth to his charming manners and assumed air of nobility, is aimed at winning the affections of his beloved Daisy; who is married to an adulterous, racist and violent man, called Tom Buchanan. Despite the seemingly obvious trajectory of the narrative, an unforeseen plot twist leads to a dramatic and tragic denouement (worth reading to find out for yourself). What I enjoyed the most about The Great Gatsby is Fitzgerald’s skillful development of the leading and colorful supporting characters, which fueled my intrigue in the story, while subtly adding layers of increasing complexity and intrigue to the story. Equally noteworthy, is his vivid depiction of the wild and carefree 1920’s high society life in New York, in which men openly having mistresses and drinking and driving, are socially acceptable. The one drawback, that diminished my enthusiasm for The Great Gatsby, is that the narrative contains several patently racist statements and stereotypes of Blacks and Jews. I do sincerely appreciate that Fitzgerald published this novel in an era when these sorts of views were openly expressed and accepted in mainstrean American society, and thus the novel is authentic to the era. Nevertheless, it was difficult for me not to cringe sometimes when reading certain minor parts of the narrative which support white supremacy. So with that one proviso, I would recommend The Great Gatsby to most readers.
Have you read The Great Gatsby or another of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s books? Which of his books did you most enjoy reaing? Do you perhaps have a recommendation on what I should read next from him? Please feel free to share your thoughts in a comment below. Thanks as always for stopping by! Also, if you would like to receive more updates about my writing please consider joining my newsletter mailing list by subscribing below.