Elena Reviews: The Great Gatsby By F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby

Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald

Publication Date: April 1924

Genres: Fiction, Classic
Young, handsome and fabulously rich, Jay Gatsby is the bright star of the Jazz Age, but as writer Nick Carraway is drawn into the decadent orbit of his Long Island mansion, where the party never seems to end, he finds himself faced by the mystery of Gatsby's origins and desires. Beneath the shimmering surface of his life, Gatsby is hiding a secret: a silent longing that can never be fulfilled. And soon, this destructive obsession will force his world to unravel.

In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald brilliantly captures both the disillusionment of post-war America and the moral failure of a society obsessed with wealth and status. But he does more than render the essence of a particular time and place, for in chronicling Gatsby's tragic pursuit of his dream, Fitzgerald re-creates the universal conflict between illusion and reality.

This is not the first time I'm reading The Great Gatsby and that is why I really wanted to write an actual review the second time around! This was an assigned reading for my American Modernism class, which is completely understandable since it's one of the most representative novels of the roaring '20s.

I'm going to start with what I've always liked the most about this particular novel, which is the writing style. The lyrical prose of The Great Gatsby and the way everything is described in such an intriguing way has always fascinated me! The book is told from Nick's perspective and not from Gatsby's, which is what you'd normally except if you had just come across its title, without knowing anything else about it. He documents the life of the elusive and mysterious Jay Gatsby, through a kaleidoscope of events that make up his life in the Upper East side and how he got there. Gatsby's love for the unattainable Daisy is also an important part of the novel, since she's the main reason for his sudden desire to achieve the American dream and finally become worthy of a woman with her status.

Gatsby's portrayal throughout the novel makes it clear that he's not the most responsible or trustworthy character. The unreliability of the narration makes this even more apparent as the story progresses, since Nick has filtered his thoughts and emotions throughout it, which is usually the case when it comes to writing that is told from a first person perspective. I've never been able to decide whether I like Gatsby as a person, even though I definitely felt some sort of sympathy towards him. There have been some critics that have compared him with the author, which makes The Great Gatsby a -sort of- autobiographical novel, but there's no actual proof of that.

Daisy is also a very prominent character in the novel, as well as the other women that are introduced throughout it. I'm not going to talk about Fitzgerald's unfair and shallow perception of women in this review, because I don't want to create any controversy or dissatisfaction. They're all portrayed as shallow, opportunistic and vain, which goes to show how difficult it was to be a woman during the era of materialism, where it didn't have a lot of significance in a world ruled by men. Adapting was more important than achieving, with status being the main focus of every single character in this novel.

I usually avoid reviewing books I had to read for University, but I feel like you can sort of get a different perspective from someone who also had to analyze them, apart from just reading them for enjoyment purposes. My point being, I decided to review The Great Gatsby because it depicts a fascinating, but also kind of sickening aspect of humanity and to be more specific, the roaring '20s. The vanity that characterized the majority of the book and how people dealt with it in a way that screamed of apathy and disillusionment brought forward this never ending discussion of whether modernity is a thing to behold or a curse to stay away from. Urbanization has had a huge impact on the way we, as humans, perceive each other. Status makes up for abuse and treating people who we consider to be lower than us on this spectrum of socioeconomic hierarchy, like they're not worthy of living, has become as normalized as it can get. And this novel manages to depict this illusion of morality and the corruption of this American dream, which is definitely something I'd be more than willing to discuss, but would have taken me days, weeks, months to do so.

Long story short, The Great Gatsby is more than worth reading if you want to be a witness of this fall from grace, in an era where rich and glamorous was the only way to be.

Until the next post,