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Through the eyes of Nick Carraway, Fitzgerald skilfully narrates the life of his mysterious and colossal friend, the epononymous Gatsby. The novel is pregnant with symbolism as Gatsby's fate and his interactions with the people around him, particularly the ephemereal Daisy Fay, represent the instability of the USA in the 1920s and 30s. A tragic love story and a bleak social satire, reminiscent of T.S. Eliot's 'The Wasteland', The Great Gatsby is written beautifully. The magic with which Fitzgerald imbues the words is complemented sublimely by his neat skills of characterisation. A seminal piece of American literature and a gorgeous novel, this is an essential read.
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on 21 January 2006
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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on 16 June 2013
"A breeze blew through the room, blew curtains in at one end and out the other like pale flags, twisting them up toward the frosted wedding-cake of the ceiling, and then rippled over the wine-coloured rug, making a shadow on it as wind does on the sea." Thus FSF describes Nick Carraway entering the house of Tom and Daisy Buchanan in West Egg on Long Island. He could have written: "Nick walked into the room of the big house where the curtains were blowing in the breeze coming through the open windows", which would have been terser and more in the style the textbooks recommend we adopt when we want to have a pop at a novel. But FSF is not just a writer, he IS writing (indeed, the editor at Charles Scribner's Sons praised his accomplishment at it when rejecting an early effort.) If you look again at the above excerpt - the explicit references to the sea; the deliberate repeat of "blew"; the wine-coloured carpet reminding us of the wine-dark sea in translations of Homer; the telling use of "rippled"; the wedding-cake ceiling in a house where a sensitive woman is quite willingly conjoined and in love with an unfaithful brute of a man, etc.) - you begin to appreciate that FSF's brilliant broadcasts on the human condition are as much about poetry as prose. You want to read a real writer? Scott's your man. Now, how do I get an invite to one of Jay Gatsby's parties?
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on 9 December 2011
The Great Gatsby was written in that crazy wild beautiful jazz era which went on to become a national psychosis as it has been called. Every man and every character from the novel tried to get the most out of life, tried to get the most out of as little possible. And all this happened through investments in time, feelings, money. People were trying to give as little as possible and gain as much as possible. that is what Fitzgerald portrays because his life was just the same, they were living in a hurry, in a "borrowed time" as the writer says, a time no one felt the urge or the duty to give back. The novel talks about the fast way people got rich and how that affected them, being almost as damaging as a national disease. New social classes appeared and the old moral and intellectual values were not so powerful anymore. There is in Fitzgerald's writing something very powerful that opposes the immoral or amoral manifestation of the generation he experienced and felt part of, and something due to his consciousness of social inferiority that determined him to notice with keen attention the world of those who fear nothing and believe in nothing just because they have money and social position.
The novel is still valid nowadays in its teachings and its strong moral character makes me think that we all should read it and listen to the advice it gives.
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"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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on 27 April 2009
I had to read The Great Gatsby for my A-level English. I was dreading it. I love classic books but this is one book i have never had the desire to read as the pre conceptions i have of the 1920's put me off.

All I can say now is thank you to AQA for making me read this. I have changed views on the book which was superb and of the 1920's.

My only critism would be the ending. I never wanted it to end.
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on 9 January 2013
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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on 4 July 2011
This is one of those novels that you have to read to the very last page to really enjoy it. It is a very simple story in terms of plot, but it's a very complex game of riddle as for its protagonist. There is, in my opinion, a subtle game between what's obvious and superficial and what's hidden and more deep, that's were the novel caught me.

I'm a bit surprise that so many reviewers define the characters as to be shallow. Sure, most of them are maybe one-dimensional, but that again plays with Gatsby being so complicated. Because this is the essence of the book as I see it: Gatsby might be a superficial man in his ways and his attitudes, still he feels there's something more deep and worthwhile in life and he thinks he found it in Daisy. And so he pursues his dream to grasp that deeper, most important of thing with what means he has. Which are shallow things, the things he has around him, which dwell in his world and people around him consider valuable.

This is what I liked in this novel. Both Gatsby and Carraway feel there is more to life than what they see around them, but unfortunately our means to achieve that deepness - that happiness, if you will - are inadequate, most of the time.
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on 9 November 2001
Fitzgerald's most famous work is a totally absorbing story with fascinating characters that keeps you gripped from first page to last. Although his very descriptive prose can be slightly difficult, it nonetheless adds great beauty. It is the type of book you may have to read twice or three times before its greatness may become apparent, as it does seem rather slight the first time around, given its reputation. But, no matter what, this haunting and memorable tale will stay with you. Definitely a classic, and a book everyone should experience.
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on 21 May 2013
I had to study The Great Gatsby for A'level English Literature. I remembered enjoying it, but couldn't remember all the detail. When the new film version was being talked about I decided it was time to re-read it.

I have to say I devoured it in a day. It is a beautifully written story about the mysterious Jay Gatsby, viewed through the eyes of the narrator, Mr.Carraway. The lavish 20's parties, the glamour, the carefree days of the era, are so clearly described I was there in spirit, dancing on the lawns and drinking cocktails. The ability of the author to create characters that one minute you love and the next you loathe is superb. The complex relationships between the main characters is really thought provoking and still, 20 years on, leaves me with unanswered questions that find me re-visiting the story again. I've yet to see the latest film adaptation, but since I love the 1920's, can't wait to see it just from a fashion perspective if nothing else, but I imagine the challenge of conveying the emotion of all the relationships will take some doing.

If you have never read this classic then I recommend you do and see just what makes this a classic novel.
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