Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald
Publisher: Oxford University Press
In 1922, F. Scott Fitzgerald announced his decision to write "something new--something extraordinary and beautiful and simple + intricately patterned." That extraordinary, beautiful, intricately patterned, and above all, simple novel became The Great Gatsby, arguably Fitzgerald's finest work and certainly the book for which he is best known. A portrait of the Jazz Age in all of its decadence and excess, Gatsby captured the spirit of the author's generation and earned itself a permanent place in American mythology. Self-made, self-invented millionaire Jay Gatsby embodies some of Fitzgerald's--and his country's--most abiding obsessions: money, ambition, greed, and the promise of new beginnings. "Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter--tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther.... And one fine morning--" Gatsby's rise to glory and eventual fall from grace becomes a kind of cautionary tale about the American Dream.
I wanted to read The Great Gatsby because it’s been titled as one of those good classics. I also heard that the newest movie adaptation of The Great Gatsby is going to be released in 2013. I have a tendency to read the book first if there’s a movie adaptation of it. So I went to the bookstore to buy this book. Apparently the only edition that available in the book store is the Oxford edition.
The Oxford edition includes introduction about Fitzgerald, his selected bibliography, his chronology, and a map of Long Island (though it doesn't affect me much because I skipped those parts and I’ve never been to Long Island at all so the map didn't really help me). The explanatory notes are useful, but too bad they put it in the end of the book. I think it will be best if they put those notes as a foot note, so it’s easier to read, we don’t have to flip the pages back and forth just to read the explanation.
This book is called the great novel of America because it could capture and describe the setting perfectly. Set in jazz era, around 20s, that was a long time ago, and set in Long Island, in places I could never imagine. So I tried to be open minded and put in mind that everything could happen at that time, I have to trust Fitzgerald. I didn't know the outline of The Great Gatsby’s story and tried to just go with the flow. Turns out I got bored in the first few chapters because I didn't know where the story goes. To me, it felt like the story is about random people that the narrator knows who live in the 20s. There’s Jay Gatsby too, which supposed to be the center of the story. It’s all blur until chapter 4. We’ll discover the connection between those people, and the more we read the book the more we’ll know who Jay Gatsby really is and his past.
I’m drawn to this book right after chapter 4. I could capture the feeling and the atmosphere of the era. I used to hate this Gatsby character. But the more I read, the more this hate feeling turns into sympathy. His life was sad and full of irony. He spent years to try to reconnect with the girl he loved, Daisy Buchanan. The Buchanan’s life is full of irony too. I dislike them. There’s a sentence that Nick (the narrator) used to describe the Buchanan which I completely agree.
“They smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”
Overall this book is good. The story, characters, and the settings are good. Fitzgerald could make me enjoy the flow of the story and his characters have deep impression in me. He could make me feel like I lived in the 20s when reading the book. His choice of words is interesting too, though I had to open my dictionary a bit, but hey! I got to learn new vocabularies anyway. I love it, now what’s left to do is watch the newest movie adaptation of The Great Gatsby which I hope will be good too.