Monday, August 5, 2013

Summer Reading - The Great Gatsby

I recently read The Great Gatsby (by F. Scott Fitzgerald).  I feel like I have joined the ranks of the well-read now having completed one of the great American novels.

I'm glad I read the novel, but I can't say I loved it. W
atching the Crash Courses (that I have posted links to at the end of the post) actually helped me understand and appreciate The Great Gatsby a lot more.  

I thought F. Scott Fitzgerald was wonderful at describing the setting of the novel - everything from the parties at the mansions on Long Island, to the desolate smoke and dirt in the valley of ashes, to the smoldering heat of summer in Manhattan.  By the way, I have always wondered what New York City was like before air conditioning during a heat wave and now I know - yikes!

I enjoyed reading all the details about the Jazz era - everything from the houses, and parties, to the cars, and the details of life back then. The 1920s were a glamorous age and it was fun to picture what everything would have looked like.  

I haven't seen the movie yet, but I did a collage of some of the things I imagined while I was reading the novel, like I did for the previous two books I reviewed (here and here).

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4

If you really want to understand the Great Gatsby and its significance you should watch the Crash Courses that I have linked to below.  It helps you understand:
  • how The Great Gatsby is a novel about the American dream 
  • the importance of the colours gold, yellow, and green in the novel
  • how the characters are obsessed with changing time in the novel

Have you read The Great Gatsby?  Did you like it?  The characters are interesting, but not very likable which can be a problem in liking the novel.



  1. It has been too long since I have read the book, but I LOVED the movie! It was so beautiful the way they did it! I would recommend seeing it in the movie theater though, I think it's something that needs to be on the big screen. :)

  2. I have read it, but many years ago. My daughter is reading it at the moment as part of her school reading list, they are looking at love stories, so she has just finished Pride and Prejudice, and Romeo and Juliet comes next. I will show her this post. I think she has been more than a little impressed when each time she has said, I need this book, I have told her there is a copy on the bookshelf!

  3. I just happen to be re-reading the Great Gatsby at the moment for book club. Read it in 74/75 when 16 years old, just after the Mia Farrow/Robert Redford movie, did not enjoy it then (or the movie) and really struggling to get anything much out of it now. I do get that it is more about demonstrating and perhaps magnifying the unlikeableness of these characters and the folly of the so called American dream but I think I just find them so horrible that even knowing that this is Fitzgerald's point does not make me appreciate it any more. Even the descriptions throughout the novel and Fitzgerald's use of language give me very little, I find it all tedious and superficial...which is the point I know but that doesn't make me want to keep reading. It is almost like Fitzgerald is shoving these repellant fops down your throat and you are choking on them. For me the only good thing about the book is its hopefully one more sitting with it and it will all be over!

  4. I love it, and I love Fitzgerald's novels. Plus Zelda was from Alabama, so we all studied about them in Alabama History while in school. Zelda was a bampot!


  5. I must say that the book left me cold when I read it in high school, and again when I read it in my 40s a number of years ago. The characters left me either bored or annoyed. I can appreciate the finely crafted writing, but in the end, I must paraphrase Rhett Butler, "Frankly, my dear, I just don't give a damn about any of them." Now THAT was a book with characters you could really get your teeth into.

  6. I read Gatsby before the 1974 movie and during the 1990's. I agree that there is not a likeable character in the book. Fitzgerald was a young man when he wrote Gatsby and he was already disillusioned by The Jazz Age and by the American Dream. I think that the green light at the end of the dock is probably one of the most powerful metaphors in American literature. I haven't seen the new movie but if you want to know more about F. Scott in the movies Tender is the Night and The Last Time I Saw Paris give a fictionalized picture of Scott and Zelda's European life.