91 Followers
19 Following
helenliz

helenliz

Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald This is an odd little book, but not odd in a bad way. Told in the first person by Nick Carraway, it is set at the height of the exciting period that existed between the end of WW1 and the depression in New York - that most vibrant of cities. nick isn't really part of the set he's writing about, he just happens to be the neighbour of one of its leading lights - Jay Gatsby. and as an outsider, Nick makes quite an impartial, somewhat cynical, observer, on the periphery of the action, but rarely part of it. But he warms to Gatsby, such that, over the book he moves from being one in a company of hundreds to a man alone. There are a lot of rather unpleasant characters, but they're never entirely indecipherable, you might not have done the same thing as they did, but you can understand why they make the decisions they have made. Nick comes out of it as a very decent man, but with his feet on the ground. Gatsby, in contrast, comes across as, at heart, equally as decent, but with his head in the clouds. He's managed, by his own effort, to transform his life and prospects (not always legally is the implication) but he has a dream. He met Daisy while a young army officer, but he had no money or security to offer her such that he considered himself committed to her. As he left for the war, she gradually drifted away from him and back to the dazzling, shallow, lifestyle of parties and attachments that she'd known before. She eventually marries Tom. I felt it was, in some ways a meeting of two equally rich, shallow people and they deserved each other. But it never stayed that simple. Gatsby has lived on the dream of her that existed 5 years ago. She never existed as he imagines her and the attempts to recapture the past fail dismally. On his side, the reality fails to live up to the dream, on her side, she has neither the courage of her convictions or the depth of feeling to actually do anything that's not just a case of following the path of least resistance. It ends, badly, as it would when a dream comes face to face with reality and the reality fails to live up to the expectation. Unfortunately, it takes a number of people down with it, but those who deserve their comeuppance seem to escape scot free. But it's not a depressing end. It is as if the dream was too big to live. nick, as the sort of man he is, tidies everything up and keeps what he knows to himself. But he has become disillusioned with the life he has been trying to lead and so heads back to the Mid west and his natural habitat. It is a very vivid book, you can easily imagine the parties and the surroundings that the story is set in. Having said that, the people don;t seem to be described in any detail - but they stand as individuals in my imagination. It's not a long book, there's little in the way of padding and spare text - it should serve as a model to some of the overblown texts I've read recently in the art of concision. It doesn't take more than a few words to bring the entire thing into vivid life. You can't help feeling for the characters, even while you don't really like them - which takes a really great writer to achieve. This is very good.