‘Great Gatsby‘ by Scott Fitzgerald was not a book I would usually pick to read(although my Junior College teacher did recommend this book). And so I read this book as part of my English Literature class.
What did I think of this book?
Frankly, this book is brilliant and proffers a valuable insight into the America of 1920s’. However, in order to actually understand the myriad symbolism, the nuances and the general feel and brilliance of the book, one probably has to read the book more than once(unless one is an amazing reader who can pick up symbolism on the first read itself). A background knowledge of the author and his circumstances as well as his feelings when writing the book will go a long way in helping the reader understand the general purpose of ‘Great Gatsby‘.
That said, I’ll proceed to the story. As the title suggests its about a man named Jay Gatsby who belongs to the the increasing number of nouveau riche people springing up in the US in the 1920s’, who throws a gazillion grand, elaborate parties in his equally splendid mansion. The narrator is Gatsby’s neighbour Nick Carraway. The story represents the utter degradation of American society and its people by weaving its way through Nick’s perceptions and the love between the enigmatic Gatsby and Nick’s cousin Daisy. Subtly Fitzgerald has conveyed why Gatsby is great and has thus, by doing this, justified the title of the novel.
‘Great Gatsby‘ is replete with symbols such as the ‘green light’ and the ‘valley of ashes.’ It can be seen as a love story or as a comment on the hollowness of the American dream or as a symbolic novel. I see it as a mix of all three. I will refrain from reviewing Fitzgerald’s writing style and the characters. The former because I do not think I am qualified and knowledgeable to do that and the latter because I can write pages and pages of character analysis after having studied the novel so thoroughly. And so many pages on just that one topic can be downright boring!
To conclude I would definitely put ‘Great Gatsby‘ on my ‘must-read’ list because of the story, its representation of the Jazz Age from a completely different angle, an angle where the 1920s’ is not all glamorous but in fact quite superficial and status centered; its writing and its unique symbolism. However the book requires mental effort as understanding its purpose can be difficult(I too understood the book wholly only after our English Literature madam explained it brilliantly). So for those reading for pleasure and time pass, this is not the book for you because without understanding the actual purpose, the story will appear merely ordinary(which it is not).However for the classic literature fans and those with an intellectual bend, ‘Great Gatsby‘ is really great!