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The Great Gatsby (Vintage Classics) Hardcover – 2 May 2013
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"It’s an absolute gem and stands head and shoulders above the others. With its thick creamy pages and gorgeous black, gold and mint green cover design inspired by pieces from the Tiffany archive, not only is it a pleasure to hold but for once it delivers on the publisher’s promise to “evoke the beauty and romance, glamour and luxury of the Roaring Twenties depicted in the novel"" (Evening Standard)
"The Great Gatsby remains not just one of the greatest works of American literature, but a timeless evocation of the allure, corruption and carelessness of wealth...a gilded society intoxicated by wealth, dancing its way into the Great Depression." (The Times)
"Gatsby is a connoisseur's guide to the glamour and glitter of the Jazz Age, but it's also a nearly prophetic glimpse into the world to come. Writing at the height of the boom, in the midst of the Roaring Twenties, Fitzgerald detected the ephemerality, fakery and corruption always lurking at the heart of the great American success story... A haunting meditation on aspiration, disillusionment, romantic love - and a blistering exposé of the materialism, duplicity, and sexual politics driving what Fitzgerald calls America's true "business": "the service of a vast, vulgar, and meretricious beauty"" (The Times)
"It is a marvellously suggestive novel...a parable of modern America, and by extension of modern life" (Daily Telegraph)
"The first and greatest modern novel, it has beautiful women, lavish parties, romance, betrayal and murder woven together in an intricately structured plot. A prescient comment on the dying days of a gilded age that is brilliant entertainment with a very eloquent insight" (Mirror)
Tiffany&Co. edition designed exclusively for Vintage ClassicsSee all Product description
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The book is famous for its descriptions and I must admit that they are superb. There is not a great deal of action but there is a great deal of the characters talking about each other and principally about Gatsby. The story is seen through the eyes of one Nick Carraway, a young man who works in New York's Bond market, and who lives in a small house next to Gatsby's huge mansion where Gatsby is renowned for holding lavish parties. Thus all the descriptions and the motives attributed to the characters are made in Carraway's own words. This means that the reader is entirely dependant on his judgement about the validity of the events in the novel as they unfold.
The book is very readable and the plot held my attention right to the end even though I knew the outcome having seen the films. However, I am yet to be convinced about the greatness of the work and if it indeed it is worthy to be considered a great American classic. But please read it and decide for yourself.
Tom and Daisy Buchanan are from a privileged class of bright young things. When we first meet Daisy she is lounging in a room with all the curtains open doing nothing. This fanciful idea of the curtain billowing, the ladies reclined with their skirts caught in the wind, as if being carried away in a balloon, fits perfectly with Daisy’s personality. “I’m paralyzed with happiness.” are the first words we hear her speak and reinforces the idea of doing nothing. Physically he gives the reader the description of, “Her face was sad and lovely with bright things in it..” The excitement in her voice was “a singing compulsion, a whispered ‘Listen,’ a promise that she had done gay, exciting things just a while since..” This flamboyant, effervescent character is both carefree and careless. The way she changes subject mid conversation to ‘you must see the baby’ suggests a lack of attention and a distressed mental state. She also suggests it is better for women to be a pretty fool, a social comment on the way women of her class are seen in Fitzgerald’s world.
Tom equally indulges in the pleasures of life, not just his horse riding and cars, but keeping a mistress in the poor district between his mansion and the city. He suffers a crisis when Daisy admits to loving Gatsby and he finds out his mistress is being taken away by her husband. Suddenly everything he has is slipping through his fingers, he is losing control.
Gatsby himself is a mystery. In the beginning we are told that no one is ever invited to Gatsby’s place they just turn up. This makes the invitation to the narrator equally strange. Then when Nick meets Gatsby he has to mysteriously disappear to answer a phone call. This is the first clue that Gatsby’s business is not strictly legitimate. He has made and maintains his fortune on prohibition. Yet everything he has and does is to impress Daisy, to be and belong in her world. He has a man in the city send him shirts, so he knows what to wear, the nouveau rich fitting in. The idea of him taking the blame for the car accident, when she was driving, is perfectly in keeping with his character.
Why is he called great? I think Fitzgerald was creating the ultimate American icon. The self made man who never gives up no matter what. As one reviewer suggests, Fitzgerald is creating the American Dream before the term was even used. Gatsby also has this insatiable positive attitude which never gives up hope that there is something on the horizon, just out of reach, all you have to do is keep striving. Encapsulated in the famous closing lines, “Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter – tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms further...” Again this pre-figures the American Dream that if you work hard enough you will succeed and those who fail, didn’t strive enough. It’s a recipe for tragedy, mental illness and loss.
I will say that I don't really understand why it's a "classic" as such -- it's good, but not amazing -- but then may that's why I'm not an English teacher :)
Worth reading for sure. Haven't seen any of the film versions.
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