Title: The Great Gatsby
Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald
Published: 2010 (originally 1925)
I would lie if I told you that Fitzgerald’s books had always really appealed to me and that I had a great curiosity to read them. Other than The Great Gatsby and Tender is the Night, I had never even heard of them. (I was probably the only one that wasn’t aware of the fact that the movie The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was based on a short story by the same name, written by FSF.) It was only when I saw the beautifully designed editions by Coralie Bickford-Smith that I became eager to read some of his work … Call me shallow or superficial, but I think it shows the power of a well-designed book.
The Great Gatsby is a relatively short book. It has just under 200 pages but a quarter is taken up by an introduction and a few notes, so the actual story is around 150 pages. Short, but definitely good. This was my first experience with Fitzgerald and I found his language particularly beautiful. It is clear, but descriptive and I think it told the story very well. I was completely taken by surprise when reading about Gatsby’s character. I think that having seen the trailer of the movie adaptation (but not actually the film itself) and DiCaprio’s previous roles (notably in The Wolf of Wall Street) made me think that Gatsby would be an alcohol, drugs and women obsessed man, but nothing could be further from the truth.
The storyline is quite simple, but I was surprised with how well it was carried out and how Fitzgerald portrayed all of the characters. They were all equally important and had a very distinctive personality. I think Gatsby’s love for and obsession with Daisy and his subsequent downfall are portrayed exceptionally well and I could totally see him, and Daisy, Nick and Tom together – talking, arguing. I never felt a connection with any of them, but I think that was part of the story: just as the characters could not fit in or connect with life in the East, the reader cannot fully connect with them. As Nick put it towards the end of the novel: ‘I see now that this has been a story of the West, after all – Tom and Gatsby, Daisy and Jordan and I, were all Westerners, and perhaps we possessed some deficiency in common which made us subtly unadaptable to Eastern life.’
Have you read anything by Fitzgerald?