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Wednesday, 31 August 2011

So I read The Great Gatsby...

I haven’t always read as much children’s and young adult fiction as I do now. *Gasp!* I used to read Classics too. A left over habit from my uni days.

Every once in a while I like to stretch myself and in the summer I try to read one classic. Last year it was Wuthering heights – talk about depressing stuff – this year it was The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The cover on the right is the one from my edition circa 1975. The book was first published in 1926. I don’t know about you but I find the idea of “reviewing” a classic rather intimidating. I mean lots of intellectual types have singled these books out as being important for one reason or another. Who am I to argue with those bright minds? In fact if I was still at uni, I’d probably be exploring some profound notion that Scott Fitzgerald was reflecting the Jazz age in his convoluted sentence construction and grandiose language. Is he doing that on purpose? Frankly, who cares? Not me. Was he even doing it at all? Who cares? Again, not me. Is The Great Gatsby is a good read? Yes, I thought so. At least I enjoyed it.

And even more than that, I felt there were some universal truths from my own human experience reflected in these pages.

Take this sentence for instance:
‘And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.’ Pg. 10
Does anyone else have that deep feeling that as summer begins you experience a renewal? I do. So for this alone Scott Fitzgerald had my attention.

I was also rather impressed by his character descriptions. Read this:
‘Her eyebrows had been plucked and then drawn on again at a more rakish angle, but the efforts of nature toward the restoration of the old alignment gave a blurred air to her face.’ Pg. 36
I would never think to go into such a description about eyebrows.

Another thing that I really loved about this (did I just use the word loved? Why yes, I did) was the author’s method of conveying the passing of time:
‘Roaring noon.’ Pg. 75 Those two words put together just shout at me “Jazz age”.
‘Already it was deep summer on roadhouse roofs and in front of wayside garages, where new red petrol-pumps sat out in pools of light...’ Pg. 27

But perhaps my favourite image from the novel is this one:
‘In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars.’ Pg. 45

Was Gatsby a great man? It depends who you ask. It was certainly interesting to read about the man at the heart of the story from the perspective of another. That’s all I’m going to say about this book.


Sam said...

When I read a review of a classic, all I want to know is whether the reviewer enjoyed reading the book and why, so I thought your review was great :)

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

Whoa it sounds really good. I need to read this.

You didn't like Wuthering Heights? Ok it's a downer, but I love it. I think it shows how we can hurt the people we love the most if we are not careful.