And you can relive that past with The Great Gatsby, written by F Scott Fitzgerald, an author of novels and short stories regarded as one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century. The Great Gatsby is Fitzgerald’s third novel, coming after works such as This Side of Paradise in 1920 and The Beautiful and Damned in 1922. Superbly written, the novel is set in roaring 1920s America. By the time you begin to read this account of flappers and speakeasies, trust me: you won’t be able to put it down! With fast-paced antics, affairs, betrayal and more, readers will keep coming back to Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.
The novel's events are seen through the eyes of its narrator, Nick Caraway, a young graduate, who is both a part of and separate from the world he ultimately becomes involved in. After moving to New York, he rents a house next to the mansion of an eccentric millionaire, Jay Gatsby, who Nick becomes close friends with throughout the novel. Every Saturday Gatsby throws a party at his mansion and all the great and the good of the young fashionable world come to experience his unnecessary extravagance as well as gossip about the very person they have come to marvel at: Gatsby, who as we see has a very dark and mysterious past.
Despite indulging high society, Gatsby isn’t satisfied. Many years before Nick moved next door, Gatsby fell in love with a young girl, Daisy. Although always loving Gatsby, she is currently married to Tom Buchanan. Nick helps Gatsby meet Daisy once more, arranging tea for Daisy at his house. The two former lovers rekindle their love, but not without consequences! Tom Buchanan knows what is going down under his very nose and relishes the fact and then seems to reveal to the reader what they already had a feeling about – that Gatsby’s fortune is built on nothing but…SPOILER ALERT!! You’ll just have to read about Gatsby’s scandalous dealings in the novel. Also not to mention Daisy’s hit and… oh said too much already! Just read the book to find out.
“He smiled understandingly – much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles … It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself, and assured you”
This particular passage, detailing Gatsby’s demeanor, is one of my favourite parts of the novel. Nick describes Gatsby not by his body but by his face, ‘it understood you…believed in you’. Fitzgerald personifies Gatsby’s face and describes how it put Nick at ease. No doubt it did everyone who met Gatsby. Connoting powerful images in the reader’s head, Gatsby is portrayed as a warm and inviting character, central to the novel itself.
F Scott Fitzgerald seduces and appals the reader with his portrayal of a lifestyle and a decade that are both exciting and horrific. Fitzgerald himself was a part of that high-living extravagant New York set. In all its excitement – pumped full of life and…yes, death – The Great Gatsby captures the American dream at a time when it had descended into complete indulgent decadence.