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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An essential piece of 20th century literature
The iconic novel of the 20s and an American classic, F. Scott Fitzgerald's greatest novel finally gets the edition it deserves.
Published 20 months ago by O P J

versus
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lovely classic, worth checking out.
I have been meaning to read The Great Gatsby for some time now, so I’m glad I was inspired to read it recently. It’s not a long read, or hard to read so it was perfect to slot in between reads! I thought it was an enjoyable enough read, but I didn’t feel blown away by it. I think it’s because it was so short, I didn’t really have time to get...
Published 2 months ago by Chrissi Read


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An essential piece of 20th century literature, 9 Jan 2013
The iconic novel of the 20s and an American classic, F. Scott Fitzgerald's greatest novel finally gets the edition it deserves.
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77 of 84 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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154 of 171 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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20 of 22 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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gasby is the best summary of the Roaring 20s around today., 29 May 1998
By A Customer
I am a senior in high school and was assigned The Great Gatsy to read for english class. There was nothing quite like sitting down and thinking about what the true meanings in this book really are. There are stories of triumph, sacrifice; love and hate; rich and poor, and many others. Each character has their own story, and each intertwines with another. The Great Gatsby is an amazing work of art with incredible stories clashing different types of people to give the essence of a great era in our history. I highly recommend it to anyone.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lovely classic, worth checking out., 26 Jun 2014
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This review is from: The Great Gatsby (Kindle Edition)
I have been meaning to read The Great Gatsby for some time now, so I’m glad I was inspired to read it recently. It’s not a long read, or hard to read so it was perfect to slot in between reads! I thought it was an enjoyable enough read, but I didn’t feel blown away by it. I think it’s because it was so short, I didn’t really have time to get invested in the story like I enjoy doing. Others feel like it’s the perfect length, so don’t feel put off by me not feeling like it was long enough!

I thought the narrator of the story, Nick Carraway was an intriguing narrator. He comes into contact with Gatbsy as he is his neighbour and is invited to one of Gatsby’s social gatherings. It doesn’t take long for everything to kick off.

Although this is a short read, it is full of depth and interesting insights into the human condition. I thought F.Scott Fitzgerald’s writing was beautiful and truly believe that this is a classic well worth checking out.
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61 of 69 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From dread to love in one book, 27 April 2009
By 
N. T. Butler (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars take the red pill?, 5 Aug 2014
By 
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece of its time, 25 May 2009
By 
Suzie (Scotland, UK) - See all my reviews
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I read `Tender is the Night' decades ago and, although I'd always intended to read `The Great Gatsby', it somehow never appealed so I have to admit that I've only just read it for the first time.

Narrated by Nick Carraway, a young man in his first job who happens to be Gatsby's neighbour, it is set on an island within a short drive of New York. The story evokes the shallow extravagance of the wealthy in 1920s America. It's not always politically correct when viewed against current attitudes to what is and is not acceptable, but F. Scott Fitzgerald was from a different era and was writing about a different era. The novel reflects attitudes and mores as they were at the time.

In contrast to Nick's modest home, Gatsby's neighbouring mansion is staffed by servants, and full of light and partygoers, many of whom have never even met `the great man'. But Gatsby's background is something of a mystery and, from early in the story, there are hints that he may not be all he seems.

Gatsby befriends his young neighbour, who happens to be the cousin of Daisy, the girl Gatsby fell in love with five years earlier and has not seen since. In the context of the story this is utterly convincing and compelling, although it sounds contrived and coincidental. One of the book's themes is the futility of trying to recapture the past and relive it in the future. At times the pace meanders almost tediously, as languid as heat of a New York summer, but the book is so short that this detracts little from the quality of the writing. Indeed, so descriptive is the prose that you can feel the heat and sense the languor of the characters.

The ending and the build up to it were unexpected and lifted the book from the ordinary to the special. I think it was only after finishing the story that I began to appreciate how meticulously plotted and beautifully written it is. An American classic - undoubtedly. Among the greatest American fiction - I couldn't say, as I haven't read enough American fiction to be able to compare. But at this price it's remarkably good value. If you haven't already read it, buy it and read it. It won't take you long and it's well worth the time and money.
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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 
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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