大亨小傳 The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald

After reading Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast, I was eager to read The Great Gatsby, which was praised in the book as “one of Fitzgerald’s best” by Hemingway himself. Also with the movie coming out, I really wanted to read the book before I watched the movie so to not ruin the book for me (as it usually does).

The book is about Nick Carraway, a young man who moves to New York to learn the bond business. He acts like the audience, as he watches with us from a distance the events that happen both in the East and West Egg, and take little participation in the acts while judging the main characters. In short, it’s about a dreamer Mr. Gatsby, who in order to pursue his dream of money and therefore gaining Daisy’s heart, puts all his effort for the past few years into illegal bootlegging and succeeds in building himself a mansion and fame. However, he is depicted as the “newly rich” but without class/sophistication unlike Daisy and Tom.

In super short summary: Mr. Gatsby is known for throwing extravagant parties, but he does it to secretly catch Daisy’s attention in order to win her back. He asks Nick to help him set them up, and after he does, they fall back in love. Even though Tom is also cheating on Daisy, he cannot accept Daisy having an affair with Gatsby, and tries to break them up. He confronts them at a hotel in downtown New York, and exposes the source of Gatsby’s wealth from illegal bootlegging. After this, Daisy hesitates the affair, and in the end she forgets about Gatsby and escapes with Tom. Gatsby is left alone and waiting, and after a Tom incriminates him for the murder of Myrtle, Gatsby is murdered in his home.

I have to say I really liked the book, however it was much more like an intriguing (and rather short) story than a literature book —> I had started reading older/more classic books for this purpose. Yet it was very entertaining, very well written and timeless, as in it depicts very well the nature of people, rich and poor in different circumstances, and illustrates the economic framework of the United States after the first World War where increased economic growth resulted in overspending, materialism, greed and moral and social decay (as opposed to the initial American dream that was about discovery, happiness and individualism).

One thing that was interesting was that in spite of Tom and Daisy’s supposedly higher social and moral high ground (accusing Gatsby’s illegal bootlegging), they are the characters that represent the shallowness of upper class, with Daisy not living up to her word of waiting for Gatsby or even letting him know of her change of plans, and both of them escaping the murders and disaster by taking a vacation away, finding solace in materialism and solving issues with money. However, Gatsby is the character that persists and stands up to his word, even taking the blame for Daisy’s murder, and earns him Nick’s respect in the end.

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