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The Great Gatsby 
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Post The Great Gatsby
Well, I am trying to catch up on classics and works that are considered to be of "the greats." The Great Gatsby is currently on my active list.

I am more than halfway through and...I just don't get why this is considered such a classic. It's theme seems very basic to me: guy wants girl but realizes he wanted the girl as she existed in his mind. Throw in the excesses of the wealthy and... I just don't get why it is so revered.

Fitzgerald does have a firm grasp on the use of language. I enjoy reading his prose...but...well I won't be redundant.

Anyone else read this? What am I missing?


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Sun Jul 18, 2021 9:44 pm
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Post Re: The Great Gatsby
You sound like me when people learn I don't enjoy reading Shakespeare.

Personally, I feel Fitzgerald was a short story author at heart. He published many and got paid good money for them too. Seems I read somewhere he got paid up to $900.00 in 1920s currency for a short story no longer than ten pages. If so, I wish those times were back. Last time I sold a short story, I got paid $5.00. Not complaining. I put it to good use.

He tends to ramble in his books. Lots of writers do that. I do that. ;) And, it's the reason I seldom write long stories. Rambling in a book is a sign of a person writing with no outline. Maybe he did outline his stories, but, to me, they don't read that way. His read like memoirs or diaries. Very talkative and introspective. Some like that, but sometimes it comes across preachy, even to the author who, like me, looks back and asks, "Why did I write that?"

When it came to short stories, he remained focused because they didn't take long to write. He had a mission and could see it. I also think he probably enjoyed editing short fiction. He probably maintained better focus. I say this because when tried to write screenplays, he struggled. He had some success writing scenes but longer works proved problematic for him; that's another indicator to me he enjoyed writing with no outline.

My advice? Read around the edges with Fitzgerald. Look at the context of the time. He's credited with coining the "Jazz Age," but he wasn't going for that. He was in constant need of money and self-worth. From what I gather, unless he won a race, he felt a lack of confidence. For this reason, I recommend you check The Beautiful and Damned. Personally, I find it better than Gatsby because it's more about him and his struggles not just as a writer but human being.



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Mon Jul 19, 2021 1:03 pm
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Post Re: The Great Gatsby
I just downloaded a collection of his shorts the other day. As I said, I do enjoy his use of language. It moves and has a sarcastic quality which I enjoy. And I have been trying to be present in the 20s to get a better feel. I just don't get the hype. It's a good read.

I was very surprised to learn that he was the author of Benjamin Button!


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 Re: The Great Gatsby
Mr. P wrote:
What am I missing?

The Great Gatsby is a vivid sociology of American culture in the 1920s.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_Gatsby says
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Gatsby continues to attract popular and scholarly attention. Contemporary scholars emphasize the novel's treatment of social class, its portrayal of inherited versus self-made wealth, race, environmentalism, and its cynical attitude towards the American dream. As with other works by Fitzgerald, criticisms include allegations of antisemitism. The Great Gatsby is widely considered to be a literary masterwork and a contender for the title of the Great American Novel.


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Mon Jul 19, 2021 11:46 pm
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Post Re: The Great Gatsby
Mr. P wrote:
I just downloaded a collection of his shorts the other day.

I was very surprised to learn that he was the author of Benjamin Button!


Here's one my favorites: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernice_Bobs_Her_Hair

I got into his writing in the late '90s and started out reading his short stories. He's one of the reasons I wanted to write short stories. Larry Brown is another author I really got into.

If he's going to be read for our times, I really think The Beautiful and Damned is the book to look at. I discovered it around the time of The Great Recession of 2007 which, to me, felt very much like a depression.

I think Fitzgerald's read so much because he's easy to teach. I mean, decades of teaching Fitzgerald produced a ton of cheat sheet books on the man. If you're a teacher, all you need to do is recall what your teacher taught you and just move forward with adding your own twist. And if a person interviews for a high school teaching position, they'll all know who he is when the author name dropping starts. I can't say the same for Voltaire. Check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Candide

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Last edited by Brooks127 on Tue Jul 20, 2021 11:47 am, edited 1 time in total.



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Post Re: The Great Gatsby
Fools have a habit of believing that everything written by a famous author is admirable. For my part I read only to please myself and like only what suits my taste.

...just finished Candide for a second time.


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Post Re: The Great Gatsby
Why has The Great Gatsby been in the running for so many years for the Great American Novel? Mr. P cites Fitzgerald's nailing the language, and that's always got to be part of why readers consider any book great. The book's imagery sticks in my mind as that of few other books does--the landscape of East Egg and the very famous "green light" passage at the end, for examples. Fitzgerald knew his poets, especially the Romantics, and his prose has that compression and vivid color we most often find in poetry (or should I say found in poetry?). But what about theme; does Fitzgerald have something to show us about the American character in the person of Jay Gatsby? He certainly creates an archetype for us to ponder in this self-invented rich guy of indeterminate past who embodies the heroic questing so important to the national myth--but, alas, the dark side of that myth is fully established by the end.

The book shows narrative genius, too, in having Nick Carraway tell the story of Jay and Daisy in first person. Nick's an innocent at the beginning, an unattached, curious hanger-on, sometimes literally just going along for the ride, gradually becoming educated about the world he's blundered into. Perhaps no novelist has done better in fleshing out that world of the early 20s. So we get the particular along with a broader, more universal theme--a good recipe for a great novel.

Page for page, is there another American novel with a higher concentration of memorable, superb passages than Gatsby? I'd be surprised if there was. Thanks for mentioning the book--makes me want to reread it now!



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Post Re: The Great Gatsby
I am neither an expert nor a fan. I read it at too young an age, I think, and it made very little impression on me. The hollowness of "the rich" was the impression it left on me.

If I were to re-read it now, what I would look for is Conrad's dictum that literature must make you "see" the story. Both Conrad and Fitzgerald date from before television, but, with all due respect to Aaron Sorkin, I think there is still something sublime about seeing the setting, characters and story in your mind's eye. To bring an era and a social set to life is an achievement among the greatest possible for a person. About a year ago I listened to "Anna Karenina" and felt that very moving process at work. I don't know if Fitzgerald managed the same, and I may never try to find out, but then again, I may.



Tue Jul 20, 2021 4:01 pm
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Post Re: The Great Gatsby
Harry Marks wrote:
it made very little impression on me. The hollowness of "the rich" was the impression it left on me.

The Great Gatsby was a set text that I read at school at age 15. To me its message of "the hollowness of the rich" was a significant impression, a sense of the moral corruption that continues to eat America from the inside.

How the society allows and even celebrates this corrupting influence of wealth for its own sake seems to be the moral challenge it raises.


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Post Re: The Great Gatsby
Well, people honestly believe they have a chance to achieve that level of success by way of the myth of hard work paying off in the end. When in reality, there is no real chance to achieve more than being better off than your neighbor. Rarely will most become truly wealthy...if money and power is your ultimate goal.

I think that's why people support the decadence. That and maybe a little bit of indulgence in fantasy.


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Wed Jul 21, 2021 9:17 pm
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Post Re: The Great Gatsby
Mr. P wrote:
Well, people honestly believe they have a chance to achieve that level of success by way of the myth of hard work paying off in the end. When in reality, there is no real chance to achieve more than being better off than your neighbor. Rarely will most become truly wealthy...if money and power is your ultimate goal.
I think that's why people support the decadence. That and maybe a little bit of indulgence in fantasy.

All this I agree with. And they do have a chance, just as buying a lottery ticket gives you a chance. You have to be able to make sense of low probabilities to keep from sabotaging yourself with this, though.

I was surprised last year to find out that owning a franchise takes a lot of money. Somehow I had the notion that if you were experienced in the field the world would take a gamble on you, allowing you to "buy on time" in essence. And I gather there is still a component of that, but the down payment (so to speak) is pretty steep.

I don't actually think capitalists are necessarily corrupt. But I do think that to enter the stratosphere of mega-millionaires you have to be kind of obsessive, and you have to buy into an ideology that says the money is what matters. If it was all about pleasing customers and providing value, that would be most excellent. Alas, it's also about vicious behavior toward competitors, and about putting profit ahead of people, and about "investing" in lobbying the politicians, and about "managing" public relations (by which I mean lying). So, since the "most successful" set the standard for that social class, their corruption will seep into the worldview of their ilk.



Fri Jul 23, 2021 5:06 pm
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Post Re: The Great Gatsby
I also sense the emptiness of the wealthy in this book. Finished it yesterday. Gatsby lived an empty life, stuck in the past even though he had made a fortune and had a life everyone dreamed of. Everyone around him, in fact, lived an empty life, devoid of any real meaning. Maybe Nick came away more enriched for his experiences. His father had a fantasy to make his life worth something. He was proud of his son, little did he know...

Everyone forgot or disavowed Gatsby in the end. Especially Daisy.

It was a decent story, but I am still baffled at the 'classic' label that it is given.


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Post Re: The Great Gatsby
I listened to it a long time ago and recall not being too impressed. Even the rich can't get everything they want.:? Plus some character saying "Hey ol' sport!" about 58 times during the story.



Tue Jul 27, 2021 7:46 pm
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Post Re: The Great Gatsby
You got that about right, ol' sport!


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Post Re: The Great Gatsby
Mr. P wrote:
Well, I am trying to catch up on classics and works that are considered to be of "the greats." The Great Gatsby is currently on my active list.

I am more than halfway through and...I just don't get why this is considered such a classic. It's theme seems very basic to me: guy wants girl but realizes he wanted the girl as she existed in his mind. Throw in the excesses of the wealthy and... I just don't get why it is so revered.

Fitzgerald does have a firm grasp on the use of language. I enjoy reading his prose...but...well I won't be redundant.

Anyone else read this? What am I missing?

You are correct. It's ridiculously overrated.



Tue Aug 10, 2021 2:59 pm
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