First of all, I overslept and almost forgot to write the blog this fine morning(afternoon). Second, The Great Gatsby is amazing. This book is beautifully written, mysterious, and a little humorous too. Recollection of winter afternoons spent reading the novel leaves a golden glow in my mind (I’m not kidding). Gatsby reads like its setting. It moves fast and intently like a New York cab free from traffic. And as for any complaints about the pseudo-main character, we may not KNOW Nick Carraway very well, but he’s a darn good narrator.
Gatsby’s a strange beast of a novel. It’s pegged as the “Greatest”, but in certain ways, it’s also the strangest. It isn’t a hero story, per-se. There is a half-baked resolution of the conflict (Darn you, Daisy Buchanan). Nobody is that great, unlike the title claims. But I’d argue that that IS what makes book so great. It’s real, but also mystical. It’s heartbreaking, but also laughable. It shows emotion in subtlety. It shows the irony of the American Dream. It shows that your beginnings really DO matter. It shows that being great isn’t just about achieving wealth, it’s about other things too.
Now that I’ve stood in the rains of nerd-dom to profess my admiration for this book (haha, get it?), it’s time to get back to the prompt. What strikes me as the most interesting part of the history of the novel, is that it wasn’t popular at all at first. Which, in itself, is so beautifully ironic. People in the 20s were so caught up with stock-market booms and making it big that this novel seemed like an irrelevant depiction of what the reality of life was. Furthermore, their dismissal of the novel could have been rooted in their dismissal of Fitzgerald. He wasn’t noble after all; he had humble beginnings. In essence, the vain don’t want to be told that they’re vain. But the vain’s dismissal of the novel, kind of shows how vain they really are. I guess what I mean is, the reception of the novel in the 20s only confirms the themes that the novel tries to convey.
Furthermore, the fact that it was received so well by WWII soldiers is also intriguing. Their detachment from life in America, and also being in a different time period, afforded them the perspective that 20s business men and women lacked. Although many high schoolers also see the novel as irrelevant, that crucial fact also shows our own privilege. We, in a lot of ways, don’t have to strive as hard for the American dream. But for a poor immigrant or someone who’s just trying to make it in this world, this book has particular relevance. Gatsby isn’t a success story. It doesn’t glorify opportunity. It is Fitgerald’s first-hand view of how wealth and corruption, dreams and misguidance, and power and ignorance are so interrelated.