Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

ii:

Okay, a classic. A quick to read classic. I like those! All joking aside, I positively adored this book! It gave such a beautiful description of an age long gone, yet it could have been about today. Isn't the hedonism and disregard to consequences similar to the ones in the book what people on all major discussion forums and newspaper readers' sections are complaining about?

I loved how Fitzgerald was able to say so much in so little. After all, the book gives a very clear, comprehensive view into the emptiness of these peoples lives, yet it's really simple and short, there's rarely any embellishment. The simplicity of the text is a nice contrast with the objects it describes, actually. I guess that helped to get the feel of emptiness and lack of substance in the people and their activities. It all looked very glitzy and glamorous on the outside, but beneath the surface there really wasn't anything there.

M:

I'm quite torn about this one. I did get the character of Gatsby with all his parties and glamour and the way it all played out in the end. I did understand Daisy and her reasons and reactions. I liked the way Fitzgerald told it from the point of view of Nick and I loved the way Nick considered Gatsby; his thoughst about Gatsby were pretty much the same as mine.

Still, the book left me a little cold. I didn't really feel much. And that kinda sucks. I wasn't immersed in their world and even though I enjoyed reading it, I was left with feeling a bit "whatever". Maybe it's just the fall creeping in and bumming me out, I'll give this one another go later. And I did just finish reading the book, maybe the feelings towards it will develop over time and it'll grow into being a long and happy relationship. It can't be love at first sight everytime, right?

ii:

No, it can't, as proved by me feelings towards the Liaisons. But you have to admit ol' Fitzy did an awesome job on describing the air-headed society and all the glitz and glamor of the Golden Age.

I didn't really feel anything towards Daisy. I was kind of disappointed at that, as I was expecting her to be something special (and no, not the "special" kind of special!) after all the references made to her. Daisy didn't come across, to me at least, as this tragic beauty worthy of undying love and devotion. You know?

I read somewhere that Gatsby's yarning for Daisy is a metaphor for the American Dream. But if that's the case, what's the poor couple then? Reality?

M:

Erm... Well you're feelings towards the Liaisons was more like 'kill me now and don't force me to read this any further'... I actually think there's promise in this one, I'm just a little disappointed at the lack of feeling it provoked in me. Or rather didn't. I didn't dislike it, far from it, I just was hoping for love and instead I only liked it.

I know! That's exactly what I thought Daisy was going to be too! Although I sort of liked this way better, she wasn't something fabulous and celestial, just plain, insecure and unsure of herself. It was more real this way you know?

I think this assesment of Gatsby is very true. Daisy was the embodiment of the higher class, expensive houses and easy living to Gatsby. He pursued it all his life and after getting the money he still needed to get Daisy to complete the picture he had created in his mind of the good living. The Wilsons in my mind showed very nicely the way Mr. Wilson was quite content to live a modest life, opposed to his wife who was not happy with her lot and wanted something more out of life.

ii:

I only hated it while reading it. Now I'm fairly happy you're such a book nazi and forced me to finish it, I'm liking the book as an afterthought. You know? It's better in hindsight, only tedious as an activity.

So... basically Daisy could be anyone? I kind of like that thought. I mean, we're well above all that but that means there's hope for everybody else, too! Haha

But Wilson was the downfall of Gatsby, so is it to say that reality and contentment are the death of dreams and ambitions? I'll have to think this over more...

M:

Exactly! It was just Gatsby's idolisation of her lifestyle and fortune that put her above of everyone else.

I think Gatsby's idea of the American Dream was slightly skewed. Gatsby got too fixed on the goal and lost his integrity and got mixed up in all sorts of shady business. He was trying to reach the Dream desperately by any means only to realize he had lost it all in the end. Even Daisy wasn't the grand prize he had imagined but just an ordinary girl who's in love with someone else, the all conquering love he had idolised and imagined his whole life just wasn't real. So maybe in the end it was his (wrong) methods of pursuing the happiness that destroyed the good man (Wilson)? Not being happy with what you got destroying the things you already have achieved? Or that getting brought face to face with reality will make you realize the true nature and reality of your dreams?

ii:

But it was Daisy who destroyed Wilson, it was her driving, after all, making Gatsby in the end just collateral damage. So maybe the commonplace and the glitzy dream couldn't co-exist? The innocent got the sticky end of the deal in this one. So in the end Gatsby got done in by his Dream (due to what Daisy did). That's some un-poetic justice right there. And I think this discussion proves why this book is still read, decades after it was written.

M:

Aah, but why was Daisy driving? Maybe because Gatsby was unable to deny anything from her and therefore it was his fault in the end? Yes, it is very clear that this book provokes a lot of thought and discussion and is also an enjoyable read. Some books really deserve their status as classics!

With this one we increased our score by 20 points in The 4 Month Challenge in the category "Read a book from The Modern Library Top 100".

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