Sunday, 17 February 2013

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby has a real charm about it and is one of the kinds of books that you know you ought to add to your book list. The mysterious title gives nothing away. Set in 1920s, New York, the story opens with a young man discovering paths in a new life.

Nick Carraway narrating the novel, immediately draws in the reader as he sets up a new life in as a young trader. There is a sense of mystery from the start regarding his new neighbourhood and in particular his neighbour, who throws lavish parties every weekend. As the story progresses, the reader uncovers little by little of the great unknown, yet you are kept hooked with surprises and plot twists until the very end.

The novel is a commentary on the Jazz Age; the post-war ambience and The American Dream are presented through his characters. The quest for a new life, the preoccupation of the classes and most importantly the hunger for money possess the characters and cause their rise and fall. Scott Fitzgerald creates his characters so that they come alive.  The simple, yet descriptive writing style means that the reader has an advantage. This is through the layering of narrative perspective and use of pathetic fallacy. Tom will make you want to earn millions, Daisy will make you want to love and Gatsby will make you want to dream.

The beauty of this novel for me is how accessible it is today. Although a classic, it is timeless as the notions are all things readers will be able to identify with. The disintegration of the American Dream and the decay of social and moral value draw parallels on capitalism and consumerism of today’s world. One to read. 

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