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. (from Goodreads)
Publication Date: February 24th 2000 (Original edition 1925)
First read for the 2016 Classics Challenge being run by Pretty Books, which you can sign up to here.
WHEN I Discovered This Classic
Oh, I have a horrible feeling this might make people angry. Who here has seen One Tree Hill? Well, brooding One Tree Hill heartthrob Lucas Scott (Chad Michael Murray) was a bookish type and would often make us all swoon with quotes from the books he was currently reading, one of which was The Great Gatsby. I don’t know what it was about The Great Gatsby, but it was the one that stuck in my head the most and I decided I wanted to read it one day. I tried to read it when I was 17 and I wasn’t really feeling it so the #2016ClassicsChallenge felt like the perfect opportunity to try again.
WHY I Chose to Read It
The Great Gatsby has always been one of those “I’ve been meaning to read that…” books, so the fact that I wanted to seriously take part in the #2016ClassicsChallenge this year cemented the fact that I simply had to read it. I really want to try and read more classics just generally in life. I know that there is a lot of talk on the internet of book snobbery and how you don’t have to read them, but I want to. Only read them if you want to though, don’t feel obliged. I think it’s mostly because I want to see how people used to write in comparison to how they write now. I was always taught in Creative Writing lectures and whatnot that you have to learn the rules before you can break them. I want to know what the rules were, how we have “broken” them (because I don’t think they are broken, I just think language and tastes and the people who are able to write have changed) and see how it impacts or can impact the way that I write. It’s kind of an experiment in reading. That and because of the Lucas Scott reasons above.
WHAT Makes It A Classic
Unfortunately, for this one, it is a wonder. While it wasn’t particularly suited to my tastes, there are a lot of people out there who enjoy it. It is that enduring love, that passing it from generation to generation that I imagine has kept this in the minds of the bright and bookish of the world. It is also the fact that a lot of my American friends were forced to read this in High School. Nothing makes a book more of a Classic than it being forced into the school curriculum.
WHAT I Thought of This Classic
I had sort of mixed feelings about Gatsby. I don’t know what it was about it but something didn’t quite click with me. I enjoyed the way it was written, the voice of Nick Carraway quite lyrical and poetic, very much romanticising Gatsby and his way of life. Maybe I was expecting too much from it, because all I really know of Gatsby is the parties and the flapper girls and so on, but it missed the mark for me unfortunately as the plot seemed to be lacking.
Possibly a little bit harsh on my part, but it just didn’t feel like there was a lot going on and, with that in mind, it didn’t hold my interest like I wanted it to. For me, it is books like this that are the reason I don’t read a lot of classics. Whenever I’ve read them, or attempted to read them in the past, I’ve found them quite stale and boring. While this wasn’t on the whole boring, there wasn’t enough happening to hold my poor, generation Y attention span. But I know a hell of a lot of people who really loved it, so who am I eh?
WILL It Stay A Classic
Absolutely! The roaring twenties have always been a point of love for the whole world and this has been around for so long I can’t imagine it fading away for a second. it will remain in the public consciousness for that reason and also because of the fact that people in the US are forced to study it to pieces.
WHO I’d Recommend It To
Any fan of the roaring twenties or a lover of the film. I think it can be interesting to see it in both mediums so I will be watching the film later on this month to compare the two and see which I prefer. There will be some thoughts on that as soon as I’ve gotten around to it.