Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Book Review: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald


Description (from Goodreads):

The mysterious Jay Gatsby embodies the American notion that it is possible to redefine oneself and persuade the world to accept that definition. Gatsby's youthful neighbor, Nick Carraway, fascinated with the display of enormous wealth in which Gatsby revels, finds himself swept up in the lavish lifestyle of Long Island society during the Jazz Age. Considered Fitzgerald's best work, The Great Gatsby is a mystical, timeless story of integrity and cruelty, vision and despair

This novel has been on my reading list since FOREVER. I've been holding it in my hands in several bookstores in 3 different countries, but I have never ended up buying it. Until a while ago. WORKS at Princess St. here at Edinburgh has this sale in which you get 3 novels for £5 and when I only found 2 that I really wanted, I thought that I can might as well buy this one now just to read it at some point. And I finally did, and I am happy about it, because I really understand now why is has such a status as a classic.

I must say at first that it was not really what I expected. I expected it to be a lot more harder to read, maybe just because of the "classic" status, but it was actually really easy, simple read. The novel is narrated by Nick Carraway, a man who becomes the middle-hand between Jay Gatsby, a rich man living in a mansion next to his humble living and Daisy Buchanan, a woman from Gatsby's past. When Gatsby and Daisy met for the first time, Gatsby was an officer without money whereas Daisy was a known beauty. When Gatsby is sent to serve overseas, Daisy marries another man, Tom Buchanan. Tom is rich, but he does not manage to make Daisy happy; they seem like a perfect couple, but in the end, it is Gatsby Daisy loves. When Gatsby comes back from war, his greed increases and he starts to pursue money in any ways possible; he thinks that with money he can get Daisy. He buys a house across from Daisy's house and throws big parties, waiting for Daisy to appear. When Gatsby hears Nick is in connection with Daisy, he realizes his changes; through Nick he can get contact to Daisy. But when Gatsby and Daisy finally get back together, things do not go as planned.

What I found really interesting about this novel was the narrator of the whole story, Nick. He does not really fit into the society of characters like Gatsby and thus he provides a commentary of an "outsider" to the whole situation. The way the novel is written is simple, but yet so beautiful. I feel like this would be the perfect novel to "read" as an audio book (I keep fantasizing about Tom Hiddleston reading this novel as an audio book; he played Fitzgerald in Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris); the language is so beautiful and at parts really sounds like a beautiful poem about unhappy people. Everything seems perfect on the surface, but below the surface everything boils and the reader really gets to crack the surface of the perfection; the lives of these rich socialites are empty and nothing as they planned. Their selfishness has driven them to the "bottom".

Fitzgerald's 'The Great Gatsby' isn't a happy read. It is a story about unhappy people and tragic circumstances. It is also a story about how our dreams sometimes do not come true, whether we work on them or not. But now that I have read it, I can say that it truly is a classic and should be read by everyone at some point of their lives; if not for the story, then for the language. 

There is a new film version coming out of this novel later this year by director Baz Luhrmann. I must say I am pretty curious about the whole thing now that I have read the novel. And this film is going to be in 3D!! The budget at least is huge (127,000,000 dollars estimated) and Leonardo DiCaprio will be playing Gatsby and Tobey McGuire Nick. Really looking forwards the 26th of December and the premiere of this film. This could very well be a Oscar nominee for 2013. 

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