The Great Gatsby is one of those famous books we’re not particularly bothered about but, apparently, it’s a big deal. For some, F. Scott Fitgerald’s (1896- 1940) novel is a slice of perfection – whilst we can’t praise his beautiful, lyrical writing style enough, we can indicate we’re not overly impressed with the story on this one, which we found to be dull.
We’re going to offer up an objective review here, though… to the extent an impartial review is possible, of course. First published in 1925, it was a pre-cursor to Beat Generation writers in many ways, with the focus on the hedonistic lifestyle and freeform living of one Jay Gatsby, a millionaire whose post-war existence in 1922 America is drenched in jazz, alcohol, and excess. What a gangsta.
The Great Gatsby
This is a depiction of the Jazz Age and the Roaring Twenties, then, with Jay Gatsby the epitome of what went on to become the rock and roll lifestyle. As with books decades later, such as Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, some critics view the Great Gatsby as a savage indictment of the foibles within the American Dream.
For his era, he had quite a privileged upbringing and, after his mother gained a large inheritance, he was able to live comfortably in post-war America. His interest in literature was noted from an early age, but after Fitzgerald had visited a batch of parties in the early 1920s, he was inspired to pen the extravagances he’d seen.
This isn’t to suggest he was quietly observing this new, decadent lifestyle from a distance – a thunderous alcoholic (which led to his early death at age 44), he was very much a part of the scene. For his most famous work, he created Nick Carraway to act as an outsider being brought into this world of excess – he meets the enigmatic Gatsby and the two form a friendship, with Carraway invited to Gatsby’s parties and soon climbing the social ladder (the American Dream in action).
Murder, excess, and other mishaps occur through the narrative, which for us led us to view the book minus the high regard it currently receives. Although it’s considered one of the best novels of the 20th century, we merely enjoyed it as a story. What we do rate, however, is the glorious writing style Fitzgerald possessed – as mentioned earlier, it has a beautiful, lyrical quality about it which lifts the (by modern standards) mundane story to a higher level.
As you can tell, we’re in two minds about the Great Gatsby. As a story we don’t consider it up to much, but the writing is enough to give it a go and simply revel in Fitzegerald’s talent. Either way, due to its status we’d recommend it for reading so you can make your own judgement. Give it a whirl, yo!
Even though we found it completely unwatchable, there was a film adaptation back in 2012. This trailer makes it all look rather ravishing, though, but we believe our time with the Great Gatsby is at an end and we’re merely encouraging you, if you’re so inclined, to take a few hours off to watch it. Leonardo DiCaprio is in it, but it’s basically the Wolf of Wall Street but nowhere near as good.