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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars take the red pill?
Most of my American Literature tends to be the E A Poe / Lovecraft new world Gothic, but occasionally I'll wander off and read something a little more "mainstream." Except - Fitzgerald isn't. First of all his work is so utterly distinctive that, as would be the case with Lovecraft, it is quite possible to have a few previously unheard paragraphs read out and be reasonably...
Published 4 months ago by Ivan

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as "Great" as other Fitzgerald work
Fitzgerald's prose style and tone are magnificent. He is a brilliant, unique writer in his use of language. If I were judging him on his use of language, it would be 5 stars, easy. His use of the language to me is as unique as Shakespeare, his narration as beautiful as Hemingway. But for plot development, oh the tragedy! His book begins slow (not too slow for those...
Published on 26 July 1999


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars take the red pill?, 5 Aug 2014
By 
This review is from: The Great Gatsby (Wordsworth Classics) (Paperback)
Most of my American Literature tends to be the E A Poe / Lovecraft new world Gothic, but occasionally I'll wander off and read something a little more "mainstream." Except - Fitzgerald isn't. First of all his work is so utterly distinctive that, as would be the case with Lovecraft, it is quite possible to have a few previously unheard paragraphs read out and be reasonably certain that it IS Fitzgerald. I don't think it's his choice of language, it's his utterly surreal character narratives. Gatsby, like most of his other works gives me the feeling of being trapped in a nightmare alternative reality that is SO close to "normal" that it could all go unnoticed, apart from a thread of give-away subtle inconsistency that runs through, and connects, everything. The result, once one spots it, is terrifying, rather like suddenly waking up and realising that you're in The Matrix, or at least in some psychotic dream where the outcome, though inevitable, is uncertain.
I'm surprised that this is rarely commented on, but supposing for one moment that my observation is not simply delusional, It would be correct to pitch Fitzgerald in Poe's shoes rather than, say, Mark Twain's.

Gatsby puts the bejeebers up me. The picture he paints is beautifully rendered, detailed and coldly charming, but at any moment I could see his characters slipping off their perfect masks and displaying grinning lizard features beneath. I can't think of another author who does that. O.K. plenty do it in genre fiction, of course, but there it's expected and the universe is different enough to allow "genre" rules to apply. Not so Fitzgerald. He never announces that the reader is trapped in "otherness" and everyone carries on as if he isn't, but the cracks in the wallpaper tell a different story. This is sheer brilliance. The writing is massively evocative and beautifully structured on many levels but nerves are on edge all the way through.

I think TGG, though almost universally hailed as a great classic, is far greater than generally supposed. It's not quite horror and certainly not terror, but it's something, certainly; disturbing, perhaps?

Maybe some of you are familiar with the idea of "reality checks" - devices to tell if you are awake or dreaming? Gatsby reads like an endless series of failed reality checks. with nobody noticing them. Once one spots them, then one has no choice but to wake up inside the dream and hang on as the absurd roller coaster ride drags the reader round like a rag doll, unable to change anything and totally at the mercy of the author's setting out of a scenic railway going somewhere that no-one seems to have any control over.

It's absolutely beautiful artistry. I'd call it genius.

Five stars
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79 of 88 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everyman in the Jazz Age, 1 May 2013
By 
J C E Hitchcock (Tunbridge Wells, Kent, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
F. Scott Fitzgerald is credited with inventing the term "The Jazz Age" to describe the 1920s, and he is often regarded as the greatest chronicler of that age in fiction. Today the "Roaring Twenties" are often regarded as a brief, prosperous, carefree and hedonistic interval between the war-torn 1910s and the economically depressed 1930s, the age of jazz, of cocktails, of Art Deco, of flappers and of the Charleston. Like all attempts to summarise a whole decade in a single phrase, or even in a single sentence, however, this one can never be more than a half-truth. The decade was certainly a time of relative prosperity in the United States (less so in Europe), but it was also an era haunted by memories of the Great War and its attendant bloodshed and by a sense of foreboding about the future. The era's much-vaunted hedonism can be seen as the reaction of a largely urban, well-to-do minority against the Puritanism of the not-so-silent majority. This was, after all, the decade of Prohibition and of ultra-conservative forms of religion, exemplified by the notorious Scopes trial in which a schoolteacher was put on trial for teaching evolutionary theory.

Jay Gatsby, the central character of this novel, is a quintessentially Roaring Twenties figure. Originally a North Dakota farmboy named James Gatz, he served with distinction in the United States army during World War I and then went into business, becoming a self-made millionaire, wealthy enough to afford a luxurious mansion where he hosts lavish parties. Gatsby's mansion is on the North Shore of Long Island, an area with so many wealthy residents during this period that it became known as the Gold Coast. The sources of his millions are originally obscure; at times Gatsby claims to be the son of a wealthy San Francisco family, at others he makes vague references to the drugstore business or to oil. Eventually, however, it emerges that he has made his money though bootlegging, and possibly other illegal activities.

The story takes place during the summer of 1922, in New York and on Long Island, and is narrated by Nick Carraway, a trainee bond salesman and a neighbour of Gatsby's in the village of West Egg. (Fictitious, but based on the real Long Island community of Great Neck). The plot revolves around the web of relationships between Nick, Gatsby (who becomes a close friend), Nick's cousin Daisy and her husband Tom Buchanan. The Buchanans live across the bay from West Egg in the neighbouring village of East Egg. Their marriage is an unhappy one, and Tom has taken a mistress, Myrtle Wilson, the wife of an unsuccessful garage proprietor in a run-down area of New York, named by Fitzgerald the "Valley of Ashes". Myrtle and her husband George will play important roles in the novel's denouement.

One of the novel's themes is the American class system. Some Americans would claim that theirs is a classless, or at least a meritocratic, society, but Fitzgerald shows that America also has its forms of class distinction, perhaps more subtle than those that exist in Europe but no less real. Gatsby's lie about coming from an established San Francisco family is only partly inspired by an understandable reticence about the real sources of his wealth; part of the reason is that, in a society which maintains a sharp old-money/new money distinction he has no wish to be regarded as a parvenu. Even so, he makes his home in the "new-money" enclave of West Egg, East Egg being the preserve of traditional "old-money" families like the Buchanans. His modification of his original, German-sounding, surname "Gatz" may have been motivated by wartime anti-German prejudice, but another factor may have been that an Anglo-Saxon surname carried more cachet in high society. He makes use of characteristically upper-class expressions such as "old sport", which annoy the genuinely upper-class Tom Buchanan.

"The Great Gatsby" is a novel of its time in that it analyses 1920s New York high society and in its allusions to the literature and theatrical productions of the period and to contemporary events such as the "Black Sox" scandal of 1919 or the notorious Rosenthal murder case. Fitzgerald makes use of genuine buildings in and around New York, such as Pennsylvania Station or the Plaza Hotel. Automobiles, a relatively modern invention in the twenties, are frequently mentioned, and play a key role in the plot. It is not, however, a celebration of the gay Roaring Twenties; its tone is one of pessimism rather than of hedonism or gaiety. Jay Gatsby is at heart a melancholy figure, who derives little pleasure either from his wealth or from the extravagant parties he throws.

In other respects this is a very traditional work. Fitzgerald writes a poetic literary prose, eschewing modernist devices such as the "stream-of-consciousness" style associated with contemporaries such as William Faulkner or Virginia Woolf. The plot centres upon that very traditional device, the love triangle. Daisy is not only Nick's cousin, but, it turns out, Gatsby's former girlfriend; the two were at one time very much in love, even though she ended up marrying Buchanan instead.

The reason for Gatsby's melancholy is not so much disillusionment with his opulent lifestyle, although that plays a part, as nostalgia for the past, for a time some five years ago, before he made his millions but when he and Daisy were in love. His one great obsession is with returning to that time. When Nick objects "You can't repeat the past", he replies with a defiant "Of course you can!" His melancholy is heightened by his realisation that Daisy's marriage has been a failure and that in breaking his heart she has also broken her own, and he cannot help wondering whether her life, as well as his own, would have been happier had she married him rather than Buchanan. (Having had a similar experience myself, I can certainly identify with Gatsby on this point).

"The Great Gatsby" is today widely regarded as a literary classic; it is even one of many novels to have been hailed (in that overused cliché) as the "Great American Novel". In my view its reputation is well-deserved. Fitzgerald combines a fluent prose style with sharp social observation and perceptive psychological analysis. He succeeds not only in capturing the essence of an era but also in creating a flawed but compelling hero who serves as a timeless everyman. There is not enough space in this review to discuss many aspects of the book, but I will close by saying that I found very helpful the introduction and notes by Professor Ruth Prigozy in my edition. (Oxford World Classics).
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157 of 176 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a read!, 22 April 2008
By 
E. Fifield "Random Annie" (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
One of my resolutions for 2008 is to broaden my literary horizens. After studying English Lit to A-Level, my interest has fallen to the wayside. So on my quest to better myself through literature, I read "The Old Man and the Sea", which I just couldn't relate to. So imagine my relief when I started reading "The Great Gatsby". I'm so glad I perservered with classic books!

TGG is a great read. It's fast-paced from the outset, and gripping towards the end - I couldn't put it down. I even tried to convince family and friends to read it afterwards; but to no avail - so if I manage to get even ONE person to read it from writing this review, then good! Definitely recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Slow Moving Cautionary Tale, 17 April 2009
By 
This review is from: The Great Gatsby (Wordsworth Classics) (Paperback)
I will preface this review by admitting that I have not read much American Literature - The Glass Menagerie, To Kill a Mocking Bird and Catcher in the Rye being the only real "classics" I have read. I am also not so familiar with American culturalisms through the ages. Not that this is particularly relevant to reading The Great Gatsby, but perhaps my lack of contextual background knowledge is the reason why the style and content of the novel did not immediately "click" for me as much as it did others. Having said that, by the time you reach the end of The Great Gatsby and reflect on its contents you will appreciate the clever intricacies of the narrative and the slow build up to a powerful and moving ending.

Anyway, to get to the point:

The Great Gatsby (fantastic irony in the title of the novel, which you will not fully appreciate until you have read the book from cover to cover) is set in the "roaring 20s", a time of great cultural and social growth following the end of WW1. The book is narrated by Nick Carraway, the title character's neighbour. The story follows Nick as he moves to New York and inadvertantly gets caught up in the high society life of Jay Gatsby; a seemingly mysterious and elusive character. It turns out that Gatsby is very much living in the past and is struggling to move on with his life, despite his surrounding luxuries. The various social soirees Gatsby throws are mere facades, as is his whole persona. It is Gatsby's inability to let go that ultimately leads to his tragic downfall. As Nick gets more entwined in the glamourous lifestyle of Gatsby and his contemporaries, the reader and Nick both realise the truth of that age old adage: "all that glitters is not gold".

What is clever about The Great Gatsby is the way it intricately critiques 1920's high society life and explores what happens when people continue to live in the past rather than face up to their present reality. The story unwinds slowly (painfully so at times) but picks up momentum gradually and builds to a dramatic creshendo. Nick is the moral anchor of the novel - from the very start, the reader is introduced to Nick's ideals: He is a man of morals and the chaos that surrounds him throughout the course of the novel does not at times sit well with him. This feeling of unease is portrayed well in the writing and style of the narrative. The plot slowly meanders, with the final few chapters picking up the pace rapidly - the twists and turns are laid to rest in quite a dramatic finale.

Overall The Great Gatsby is stark and short but satisfying and well written, though admittedly very slow moving in parts.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ben Dinsdale, 23 Sep 2008
The titular hero is based on the real life playboy/social butterfly Ben Dinsdale. This classic book and its story still resonates today. At the core of the book is the elaborate infatuation Jay Gatsby has for Daisy Fay Buchanan, a love story portrayed with both a languid pall and a fatalistic urgency. But the broader context of the setting and the irreconcilable nature of the American dream in the 1920's is what give the novel its true gravitas.

Much of this is eloquently articulated by Nick Carraway, Gatsby's modest Long Island neighbor who becomes his most trusted confidante. Nick is responsible for reuniting the lovers who both have come to different points in their lives five years after their aborted romance. Now a solitary figure in his luxurious mansion, Gatsby is a newly wealthy man who accumulated his fortunes through dubious means. Daisy, on the other hand, has always led a life of privilege and could not let love stand in the way of her comfortable existence. She married Tom Buchanan for that sole purpose. With Gatsby's ambition spurred by his love for Daisy, he rekindles his romance with Daisy, as Tom carries on carelessly with an car mechanic's grasping wife. Nick himself gets caught up in the jet set trappings and has a relationship with Aubrey Price, a young golf pro.

These characters are inevitably led on a collision course that exposes the hypocrisy of the rich, the falsity of a love undeserving and the transience of individuals on this earth. The strength of Fitzgerald's treatment comes from the lyrical prose he provides to illuminate these themes. Not a word is wasted, and the author's economical handling of such a potentially complex plot is a technique I wish were more frequently replicated today. Most of all, I simply enjoy the book because it does not portend a greater significance eighty years later. It is a classic tale that provides vibrancy and texture to a bygone era. It is well worth re-reading, especially at such a bargain price.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Dangerous Look Backward . . . Dooming the Future, 6 Sep 2004
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 124,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Great Gatsby (Paperback)
"So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past." These are the last words in the novel, and sum up its theme. Our minds (like moths to the light) are drawn irresistibly to the most wonderful moments we have experienced. Our mistake is then to build our future around them, not realizing that they can never be recaptured. In pursuing the past into the future, we deny ourselves the real potential of the future.
The Great Gatsby is developed in novel form around the story line of a Greek tragedy. Nick Carraway, Gatsby's neighbor, is the narrator, serving the role of the chorus. This choice of structure creates a marvelous reinforcement for the book's theme. The novel is constricted by the tragic form, even as Gatsby's future is by his immobilization by the past. If you like that sort of irony, you'll love The Great Gatsby.
Nick knows both Gatsby (his neighbor in West Egg, Long Island) and Daisy Buchanan (his cousin who lives in East Egg, Long Island). Daisy knew Gatsby before he was Gatsby and before meeting Tom, her husband. Gatsby has made himself into a rival for Daisy over the five years since they have last seen each other, and makes his play for her again through Nick about mid-way through the book. Daisy and Tom's responses shape the tragedy that is this story. I won't say more because it will harm your enjoyment of the novel.
The story itself is somewhat dated by the romantic perspective of the Roaring Twenties, and few will read it for the instant connection they will feel with the characters. Why would someone want to read this book? I see three reasons. The first is to explore the theme of moving illusions about the future built from the happiness of the past. The second is to see a fine example of plot development. There are no wasted words, actions, and thoughts. The third is to enjoy the language, which is beautifully expressive.
These are not characters you will find uplifting. "They were careless people . . . ."
Why did Fitzgerald create such characters? Precisely, because he did not approve and did not want you to approve. Everything that glitters is not gold is another way of summing up the lessons of this novel.
Why should someone not read this book? A reader who wants to be inspired by positive examples will find little to uplift oneself here. Someone who wants a story they can personally identify with will likely be disappointed. A student of how to create love and happiness will mainly find out how to create heartache and unhappiness. So the book is not for everyone.
After you have read the book, I would encourage the self-examining reader to consider where in one's own life the current focus is dominated by past encounters rather than future potential. Then consider how changing that perspective could serve you and those you love better.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic, 21 Jan 2006
By A Customer
Lately I’ve been indulging in reading a lot of classic books and
rarely is the occasion I read a book with so much hype and academic praise behind it, does it actually live up to its image. Initially I was somewhat apprehensive prior to reading as the book is notably set in 1920’s and is about the upper social classes both of which I know little about. Not only is the book highly compelling but it’s one of the few books I’ve almost immediately began to appreciate why it’s so highly praised in both its skilful writing and narrative. The book from beginning to end remains highly readable and throughout projects a scale of grandness which further creates more impact when the consequence of actions unfold. Probably most skilful of all, the writer creates a sense of strong compassion and likeableness to the books main characters which seem arrogant, somewhat racist and condescending at times. I found the style of writing very intelligent, suspenseful, and comical throughout almost bordering on a kind of surrealness which is a pleasure to read. I would highly recommend.
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Dangerous Look Backward . . . Away from the Future, 5 Sep 2004
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 124,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
"So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past." These are the last words in the novel, and sum up its theme. Our minds (like moths to the light) are drawn irresistibly to the most wonderful moments we have experienced. Our mistake is then to build our future around them, not realizing that they can never be recaptured. In pursuing the past into the future, we deny ourselves the real potential of the future.
The Great Gatsby is developed in novel form around the story line of a Greek tragedy. Nick Carraway, Gatsby's neighbor, is the narrator, serving the role of the chorus. This choice of structure creates a marvelous reinforcement for the book's theme. The novel is constricted by the tragic form, even as Gatsby's future is by his immobilization by the past. If you like that sort of irony, you'll love The Great Gatsby.
Nick knows both Gatsby (his neighbor in West Egg, Long Island) and Daisy Buchanan (his cousin who lives in East Egg, Long Island). Daisy knew Gatsby before he was Gatsby and before meeting Tom, her husband. Gatsby has made himself into a rival for Daisy over the five years since they have last seen each other, and makes his play for her again through Nick about mid-way through the book. Daisy and Tom's responses shape the tragedy that is this story. I won't say more because it will harm your enjoyment of the novel.
The story itself is somewhat dated by the romantic perspective of the Roaring Twenties, and few will read it for the instant connection they will feel with the characters. Why would someone want to read this book? I see three reasons. The first is to explore the theme of moving illusions about the future built from the happiness of the past. The second is to see a fine example of plot development. There are no wasted words, actions, and thoughts. The third is to enjoy the language, which is beautifully expressive.
These are not characters you will find uplifting.
Why did Fitzgerald create such characters? Precisely because he did not approve and did not want you to approve. Everything that glitters is not gold is a way of summing up the lessons of this novel.
Why should someone not read this book? A reader who wants to be inspired by positive examples will find little to uplift oneself here. Someone who wants a story they can personally identify with will likely be disappointed. A student of how to create love and happiness will mainly find out how to create heartache and unhappiness. So the book is not for everyone.
After you have read the book, I would encourage the self-examining reader to consider where in one's own life the current focus is dominated by past encounters rather than future potential. Then consider how changing that perspective could serve you and those you love better.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A timeless classic brought to life with beautiful imagery, 10 Jan 2013
By 
This new edition of Fitzgerald's novel is beautifully illustrated with vintage imagery which captures the essence of the 1920s - a divided time of lavish parties and speakeasys whilst prohibition raged, where gangsters brushed shoulders with highest echelons of polite society - a time epitomised by the wealthy, enigmatic Gatsby who hosts, yet never attends, lavish parties in his Long Island mansion in the hope that one night his long lost love Daisy will appear.... Jay Gatsby is the incarnation of the American dream and the Great Gatsby the tragic American Creation Myth....
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Makes this classic work even better, 9 Jan 2013
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I am a big fan of Scott Fitzgerald and I am thrilled with this edition; it is extremely well-presented edition with very authentic period illustrations that brings the story even more to life. I can practically see Jay Gatsby swanning into view! All in all a great edition of a classic story.
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The Great Gatsby (Wordsworth Classics)
The Great Gatsby (Wordsworth Classics) by F. Scott Fitzgerald (Paperback - 5 May 1992)
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