Literature

REVIEW: The Great Gatsby

Having chosen to study American Literature II as a module this year, I will be reading and analysing American texts from the 20th century. The first text I am studying is “The Great Gatsby”, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, ranked the second best text of the century.

When it came to choosing our options around March 2011, the lecturer who was explaining the American modules suggested that although the “Great Gatsby” was one of the most useful texts to study, it was also long and rather tedious.

As I checked my seminar list today and found the novel top of it, I let out a sigh of a kind of disappointment. However, I cracked on with it this evening and I must say that the lecturer was ever so wrong. I’m only halfway through the 218 pages (long? I think not – it’s a blink compared to “Ulysses”) but so far, so good. Admittedly, it’s not the most thrilling book I’ve ever read, but there’s something about it which made me not put it down for the last 3-4 hours.

The character Nick reports on his meeting a range of other characters, as well as their conversations and actions. His cousin’s husband, Tom, is participating in an affair, and he is taken to meet the mistress on a trip to New York. He is present at the party when Tom breaks his mistress’ nose for repeatedly shouting his wife’s name with insolence.

Nick is later introduced by the mysterious Gatsby to Meyer Wolfsheim, who fixed the 1919 World Series. He also learns that Gatsby was once in love with his cousin, Daisy before she married Tom, and is now trying to win her back from him.

It seems to me that Nick is the centre of a lot of goings-on, and is always “in on the action”. He is a relatively quiet character and appears to sort of sit back and watch everything that is happening in front of him.

In social situations, I like to take notice of what’s going on around me. Call me nosy, but when I’m in public I can’t help but be very observative and aware of what is occurring. Perhaps this is why I’m enjoying the novel – I too like to be in the centre of the action, without being too much of a part of it myself (I’d prefer not to have my nose broken by Tom like his poor mistress).

I’m glad my lecturer is wrong as enjoying the books I study tends to go a long way, and SparkNotes can be given a rest.

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