Thursday, May 9, 2013

What's so Great about Gatsby?

After a really slow start, a story did emerge. Unfortunately, there is not one likeable character in the entire thing. I did not root for Gatsby to get the vapid girl. I did not care when the other vapid girl died. I didn't ever figure out what the narrator wanted.

Why is this a classic? Were there so few stories available in the twenties that this one seemed original? Did they have editors back then? I am aware that it's very arrogant of me to think my edits could improve a classic, but really - they don't have to be my edits. There are whole scenes that have nothing to do with the plot.  The dialogue is awful. Anyone's edits would do.

The plan was to see the new movie on Friday. I read a review that said the adaptation was not done well and the movie makes the characters seem superficial and that many scenes come across as tangents. That sounds like a spot-on adaptation to me.

Are you someone who loved this book? Come on, what am I missing?


  1. It's about failure born from success, born from love, born from longing for what's lost, born from having never thought you were worthy to have any of those things to begin with: love and success, but you fought and will go on fighting nonetheless to have them because you are a fool or a narcissist or a victim of the world who refuses to see himself as such.

    It is about the delusion and erosion of the American Dream. The folly of all things that can be held in the hand.

    It is about the lie of love and its power. The lie is that we want it to be shaped to our visions of what it must be, while its power is not to bind, but to destroy any of those foolish enough to think they can ever truly possess it.

    It is about life. Fleeting and, all to often, indifferent to us in the flickering moments it rests within us.

    It is about accepting all of those heartbreaking realities...and still "beating on like boats ceaselessly against the current."

  2. There is also a subtext about classism, and the shallowness of contemporary living - who people are versus who they appear to be. Those two themes (the first one quite subtle) are still relevant themes to today's life.

    It is also beautifully written. There's a passage where the narrator is touring the house that is one of my favorites (sadly, no time to track it down now.) The dialogue at the party, before the narrator meets Gatsby, is full of clues about well-to-do society at the time and about what Gatsby makes himself appear to be.

    That said, it's not a novel for everyone. It's slow-paced and elitist. And written for adults (but taught to high schoolers without the experience to see the subtext.)