The Great Gatsby

Posted by Divya at Monday, April 26, 2010

It was recently that I had come across the term 'Lost Generation writers'. I must admit it was a little intimidating to brace myself to read Fitzgerald, for I had expected 'the Great Gatsby' to be a bulky classic requiring months of laboring to complete. And like a pleasant surprise (I run the risk of sounding crude saying this) - the book is small and better still an easy read as well.

The narrative is first person and told my Nick Carraway who incidentally was in the first world war, probably like the author himself. The story in itself may not be out of the ordinary, but it is the narration that sticks to 'first-person' that makes it interesting; that is, Carraway only narrates things he knows of, any speculation about someone or something is purely his point of view. The story-teller is not omnipresent, but someone like you and me.

That said, the narration is in most parts satirical. The story is set in the Jazz age and a period when 'prohibition' was in effect in America; but this does not stop the protagonists to access to  abundant liquor. The general motif seems to be to emphasize the unfairness in the world. He brings it on paper through the references to high-end parties, west-egg and east-egg lifestyles and the classes. It is easy to imagine the cruel undertone of NY which to date remains very familiar. I did indulge in some wikipedia reads to get an understanding about America during this era of 1920s, so that I could figure some of the references in the novel.

Like an immovable force is Gatsby in the book, the rags to riches lad, the stupid lover, the doormat; all of this is known from Carraway's point of view, while Gatsby's real background remains a mystery almost throughout the writing, till the end. The initial tone of sarcasm slowly gives way to disdain and gets darker as the novel progresses. One is left to distrust Carraway also at times, for he is not a reliable narrator as well, with biases, frustrations and everything human.

The end is cruel, but it leaves a piquant after-taste, something you neither pity nor find heart-breaking. And simply like the vile world he projects, close the book and get on with your life. The world that has got no time to care...


Hannah Stoneham on April 27, 2010 at 11:20 AM said...

Glad to read that you enjoyed this - I loved it. I must say that your review is spot on - really captures the essence of things... A pleasure to read!


Anonymous said...

I loved reading this book too. And what a lovely cover you have, mine is not half so good :(

I have been wanting to see the Robert Redford movie version of this book as well, but I just haven't managed to get my hands on it.

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sheba on June 8, 2010 at 8:33 AM said...

ah one of my all time fav books..a haunting tale ...Love ur review...


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