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I finished The Great Gatsby last night, having started it on Monday and staying up a little late to get to the last page. Having seen the Robert Redford miniseries a few years ago, I already knew the story. Evidently this was a good adaptation, because there was scarcely a plot element from the book that the movie didn't cover; therefore I wasn't "surprised" by anything "new" in the book.

As I'm wont to do, I prefer to record something of my own initial impressions before I read anything "critical" or "professional" on the subject which might influence me. Therefore, if you haven't read the book and wish to avoid spoilers, please stop reading now! Otherwise, proceed. ;)


I'm not sure what Fitzgerald's "point" was in writing this story, but what I got out of it was, in a nutshell, that we can't ever go back. The past is the past; it's behind us and gone forever. Whatever magical equation existed previously won't ever come again, because life and people, are forever changing, and what held true yesterday might not be true today. I think this is most evident in the character of Daisy.

Another theme might be that of consistency and loyalty, since that would tie in nicely with the above, if that was indeed the author's intention. The only consistent characters are Gatsby and possibly Nick Carraway, who I liked, but even he seemed to flit from one female to the other a bit much. Despite my liking his character (I'm not entirely sure why), I don't entirely trust Nick's judgement. I for one wouldn't want to spend another minute in the company of a man who smacked his mistress and broke her nose, nor would I be inclined to let myself fall for a woman who lied about things when it suited her. Then again, he was aware of all these things, and seemingly disapproved of them, yet he was non-judgmental and accepting, and the only one loyal to Gatsby in the end.

Gatsby I'm inclined to find pathetic and delusional, but I'm also inclined to forgive him this for his motives. He truly loves Daisy, and while I'm of the camp who'd advise going away and trying to forget her, I'm not going to blame him for still being madly in love after being thwarted in it. (On a side note, I detest women who can't wait for their men to come back home, especially if they're taken away by war. Either he's worth the wait or he isn't!! Make up your mind and PICK ONE!!!!!)

I don't think either of the Wilsons are worth mentioning except in passing contempt.

Jordan Baker, along with Nick Carraway, are probably the two most realistic characters in a book fraught with them. I found her very "true to life", and I feel like I've known a few Jordan Bakers in my life.

In closing, I will say that I found several instances of Fitzgerald's prose very lyrical and very beautiful, his descriptions of stars as "silver pepper" in particular. I also loved the "splash" of a telephone book falling to the ground, and the gray "haze" of a woman's fur coat dancing in the breeze. On occasion he waxed just a teensy bit artsy (and for me, confusing--what was with all the choppy editing, especially when Nick is having to look at the photographs??), but for modern literature, not too shabby--not too shabby, at all.

Date: 2011-06-16 11:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gruskek.livejournal.com
It was obligatory reading in my American Literature course. Definitely amongst the better books we had to read :)

My only complaint would be that it was slightly draggy in points, but overall very plausible from a psychological point of view. Even Gatsby's OTT love for Daisy was believable.

I liked Nick too and found Jordan's character interesting as well. I would have gladly seen a bit more of her.

I saw the Redford version. It is very accurate and very stylish. There's also a pretty good film with Toby Stephens. I liked how Toby's Gatsby was more awkward and more pitiful than Robert's take. To me that rang truer to the book. Also Paul Rudd made a much more mamorable Nick than Sam Waterston. Mira Sorviano was a terrible Daisy, though (and Mia Farrow was iconic)... so in the end it balances itself out xD

Date: 2011-06-16 11:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] olde-fashioned.livejournal.com
Yeah, from what I've seen of school reading lists, this would be one of the betters!!

I didn't find it "draggy"--but more relaxed, or lazy, as in the pace of summer. Such a short book, and the few slower areas are almost deemed irrelevant when you think about how rapidly certain characters are "racing to their doom"...

I heard about the Mira Sorvino version! Talk about miscast, haha, but Toby Stephens should be interesting as Gatsby. Who plays Tom and Nick in that adaptation?

I think I need to rewatch the Redford version. ;)

Date: 2011-06-21 06:31 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] visionsbeyond.livejournal.com
Who plays Tom and Nick in that adaptation?
Paul Rudd plays Nick and Martin Donnovan plays Tom.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0210719/

Toby Stephens was the perfect Gatsby though! :)

Date: 2011-06-21 07:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] olde-fashioned.livejournal.com
I suppose I could have looked it up myself...haha...

Ohhh the guy who plays Nick was the Mr. Knightley character in Clueless?!

I have no idea who the other guy is lol.

Date: 2011-06-21 11:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] gruskek.livejournal.com
Late reply, sorry! Someone already replied to your question about the actors anyway.

Well, now that I think about it, I had to read the book in a terrible hurry due to the ammount of stuff on the reading list xD Had I more time the relaxing parts would have probably gone down better with me. Might re-read it some day at a more leisurely pace...

Date: 2011-06-16 11:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nathan cunningham (from livejournal.com)
Good review! Makes me want to read the book again (last time was junior year of high school). Back when I first read it, Nick was my favorite character because--at least when I was in high school, I'd have to read it again now--I related to him the most. A lot of the feelings and confusion he experienced, I was very familiar with, and I felt close to his character because of that. I'd be interested in seeing how we fit together now.

After I read the book I interpreted a few scenes in Lego:

http://www.brickshelf.com/cgi-bin/gallery.cgi?f=199630

Perhaps the only murder-suicide I'll ever build. :-P

Date: 2011-06-16 11:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] olde-fashioned.livejournal.com
Thanks! I'd love to read more of your thoughts in-depth, if you're so inclined!

I wondered if you liked Nick, as well--he was my favourite character overall, and his general acceptance reminded me a bit of you, though I think your powers of judgement are better than his... (i.e., no offense in the comparison, when I said a couple negative things about Nick in my review, haha!)

Ah yesss a certain brother of mine told me about those!!! I was going to go search for them, but you've so kindly provided me with a link! Thank you! :D (I love that you put Gatsby in pink!!!) Who's sitting at the table, Wolfsheim?

Kind of a horrid way to go out, and almost a "detached" way for Fitzgerald to handle it, don't you think?

Date: 2011-06-17 01:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] digne.livejournal.com
I loved this book. I had to read it in high school too. I read it in just barely over a day. It was quite engrossing. But now it's been so long since I read it I can't remember enough of the details to be very eloquent about it. So my memory may be failing when when I say I think in the end one of the themes is that money won't make you happy. Daisy, as Catherine did in Wuthering Heights, gave up love for money. And it left her unhappy. And Gatsby, thinking money will gain him Daisy, in the end has only been hurt by his fortune. Love is what both of them really want. And money, as we all know, won't buy that.

Date: 2011-06-17 08:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] olde-fashioned.livejournal.com
It was engrossing, but in a way that wasn't "OMG I HAVE TO SEE WHAT HAPPENS!!" (possibly because I already knew the story). That's not to say that I wasn't interested in seeing things play out, because I was. I'm just saying it wasn't a "thrilling" plot and yet it was completely engrossing. (Does that make any sense??)

Ooohh, good catch on Daisy and Cathy!!!!!

Oh how different Heathcliff and Gatsby are. Talk about night and day...heh.

Date: 2011-06-21 06:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] visionsbeyond.livejournal.com
I felt the same after reading the book! I had already seen the Toby Stephens version of the movie so I wasn`t surprised by anything in the book. However I feel I would have liked the book more if I didn`t know the ending because the books are always richer. I must say though that I loved the way it was written . I liked what you said about lyrical prose ! His descriptions were a bit artsy but I liked them because they were beautiful :)

Regarding the characters I never liked Daisy`s character from the beginning and part of the reason was because I hated Mira Sorvino`s porrtayal of her in the adaptation. I didn`t really care for the character and in the end where she just runs off with her husband just made her worse for me.

Gatsby I'm inclined to find pathetic and delusional, but I'm also inclined to forgive him this for his motives.
Completely agree! You actually feel sorry for him . He is one of those great tragic characters IMO

I'm not sure what Fitzgerald's "point" was in writing this story,
I think it was somewhat to expose the true side of the New York elite and their hypocritical ways . Nick is the perfect sort of 'innocent' boy who shows us all of this through his POV.

This review btw :)

Date: 2011-06-21 07:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] olde-fashioned.livejournal.com
I'm a bit torn on the whole issue of whether or not having seen the movie beforehand ruins the book for one, later. I've done it both ways (movie first, book after; book first, movie later), and had mixed experiences. As a rule I prefer to have read the book first, but in the case of Gatsby, I wasn't interested in the book until after I'd seen the mini...lol!

Yeah I can't stand Daisy. I'm a bit apprehensive about having to watch Mira Sorvino play her, but oh well haha.

I'm not a Gatsby fan, but as another commenter pointed out, the story is similar to Wuthering Heights, and look at the huge contrast between Gatsby and Heathcliff!!!!!!

Interesting point--do you think it's something as broad as an exposè of socialites? I'm curious to know what you think because I can't decide what the theme is.

(Oh and I HAVE to tell you--I was reading reviews and comments on GoodReads for TGG, and someone said This book becomes far better when you take all of Gatsby's mystery and just think of him as Batman. The whole book falls into place!)

Date: 2011-06-22 03:16 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] visionsbeyond.livejournal.com
I've done it both ways (movie first, book after; book first, movie later), and had mixed experiences.
Same here! I read 'The House of Mirth' after watching the movie and ended up preferring the book.
I read North and South AFTER watching the mini-series but I ended up loving both for different reasons. I couldn`t really compare because the movie was equally good so yes it is subjective.

LOL Mira makes Daisy even more annoying so good luck ;)

Okay you can call the whole love triangle thing 'similar to WH' but the comparison stops there! WH was a very different story which centered around the love story and the two main protagonists.
TGG on the other hand is not only about Gatsby and Daisy. There is a bigger message there which is given through the POV of Nick .

and look at the huge contrast between Gatsby and Heathcliff!!!!!!
Yes exactly! So very true!

Interesting point--do you think it's something as broad as an exposè of socialites?
Yes that is sort of what I felt was the overall theme. The way we have Nick describe everything he sees and how he describes it as a fairytale world proves what the author was sort of going for . Also the author really nails this point in the end where he describes how hundreds of people came to Gatsby`s parties but almost no one for the funeral.

This book becomes far better when you take all of Gatsby's mystery and just think of him as Batman. The whole book falls into place!
Okay WTF? LOL . No no no! xD I get what they`re trying to say about him being 'Daisy`s silent guardian' or whatever but NO! LOL

Date: 2011-06-22 06:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] olde-fashioned.livejournal.com
I read N&S before I watched it, knowing I'd probably like it since I'd seen so much fuss about it online (I went to VERY great lengths to avoid spoilers, even icon batches!). It was SO worth it, sigh. ♥

Oooh goody I'm just jumping up and down to rent the Mira version...wahoooo...not. (The ONLY movie I've ever seen her in that wasn't really annoying was The Replacement Killers. I like that movie. (Do NOT laugh...okay go ahead!)

I think it goes a bit further than that--the mystery surrounding Gatsby and Heathcliff, how they got their fortunes, the fact that their women didn't wait for them and married another man, had a daughter, etc. Also the author's choice of revealing the story through a disinterested third party (Nelly in WH; Nick in TGG), and the landscape/background/setting in each being so vivid as to almost be a character in its own right.

Yeah Nick's POV is definitely illuminating, but I couldn't help but see all the insight into human nature itself as opposed to just society. I know that society comprises of people, and there's a difference yet a sameness when dealing with both topics.

hundreds of people came to Gatsby`s parties but almost no one for the funeral.

Laugh, and the world laughs with you; cry, and you cry alone. Or however that goes...

Okay WTF? LOL . No no no!

LOL Val you seriously made me laugh!! And I have to say "no no NO!" myself here--I think you're missing the joke! Gatsby's like Bruce Wayne in his mystery, his "tortured soul", his rich facade and throwing of lavish parties, but never truly being a part of that world. Oh and the really cool cars. LOL!

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