Friday, June 5, 2015

The Great Gatsby

The great American classic. Have you read it?

I had been intending to read this book since a long time but somehow it always got sidelined by more interesting prospects. Finally, I picked it up one fine day.

It's the story of a young and mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby, set in an island off New York in the era that is described as the 'Roaring Twenties' in the American economic and cultural scene. Gatsby, who had an underprivileged childhood and whose income comes mainly from criminal activities, throws lavish parties that are attended by the who's who of New York society, socialites as well as wannabes. However, he doesn't attend these parties himself and so no one knows who he really is. Except his neighbor Nick who Gatsby takes a fondness to because he is the cousin of the girl Gatsby has been deeply in love with since years. The underlying theme of the novel is the contrast between the moral vacuum of high society folks and the honesty and integrity of the "common" people (shown via the sacrifices that Jay Gatsby makes for love).

Honestly, I was quite underwhelmed with the book. It's not a difficult read...not more than 200 pages if I remember correctly, and reads easily. But it takes a while to get to the point. For the most part you are wondering what the theme is, except maybe a love story between rich girl and poor boy. Then you think that there's got to be more to it - it is an all-time classic after all. The theme does become apparent towards the end of the book - maybe the author's idea was to build up to the theme - but unfortunately it's not much of a build up.

Still wondering what the hoopla surrounding this book is about, I went back to read the history of the book - apparently it was poorly received when it first came out and saw a revival only after WWII, years after F Scott Fitzgerald (the author) had died believing himself to be a literary failure. Oh, the sadness! Today not only is 'The Great Gatsby' considered a classic it is also one of the books to have earned the title of 'The Great American Novel'.

It is worth a read if you want to tick one book off the 'classics one must read' list, just don't have very high expectations.


Moonshine said...

I tried watching the movie and reached midway before I left it. And I don't think I can read the book either!

Scarlett said...

@Moonshine - It's not a difficult book to read...not more than 200 pages. But not very engrossing. I haven't watched the movie.

mêlée said...

I am biased, I love the book. So much that I read it at least once in a couple of years. I find it breathing elegance and emptiness - emptiness of so-called good life of rich and careless people, emptiness that settles in heart with despair of wanting something deeply and never getting it. And oh, the prose!
However I dont meet many people who share my love. When a book turns into a 'classic' there is a lot of expectation before reading, and yes, some of them may not be what one thinks it would be. Basically, Gatsby is not meant to be loved by all. But I would have been so happy if you had enjoyed it.

Smrithi Murthy said...

Haven't read Gatsby but have read Fitzgerald's essays, and boy, are they fun! There's both wit and depth in there. Pity he died considering himself a failure...