Title: The Great Gatsby
Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald
Originally Published: April 10, 1925
Format: Kindle Edition|193 pages
The Great Gatsby can be perceived as a story that represents the decline of the American Dream in the 20s. Set in post World War One, at a time commonly known as the Jazz Age, the novel is characterized by the moral emptiness of certain characters, social decay, superficiality and money as driving mechanism of society. The novel revolves around Jay Gatsby, the self-made millionaire, and Daisy Buchanan, a young woman whom he fell in love with in his youth. The plot seems to be basic and sometimes it might come off as boring, but if the book is not read carefully many elements, such as the importance of false appearances and illusions, can be missed.
The novel perfectly depicts the period approaching the Great Depression when people questioned what was considered normal, moral and appropriate. The consumer society of the 20s was focused on a financial value system; money represented freedom, comfort and a way to gain popularity.
We see the whole novel through Nick Carraway’s eyes, who is both the narrator and a participant. He lives next door to the mysterious Jay Gatsby who hosts countless lavish parties. He can’t be fully trusted, his narration is distorted both by him being taken over by the glamour of the city and the numerous gossips and speculations. Throughout the novel, although Nick is the narrator and the only source of information, the only details given are from what he witnessed from a safe distance, heard about or was told about.
Something I found really interesting and very enjoyable was the dry, mocking humour of the characters which could be considered one of the stylistic peculiarities of F. Scott Fitzgerald. In order to create a tone specific for the Jazz Age, the author contrasts the metaphorical and poetical descriptions with the ordinary language spoken by the other characters, especially characters of lower class. Thus, by combining the common language of characters with the sophisticated language of other characters, he outlines numerous features of the Jazz Age.
All in all, I think The Great Gatsby is a book of high literary merit, although, If I’m being honest, it’s a tiny bit overrated. I would recommend it to anyone who would like to read a short and accessible book about the American cultural values: society and class, money, beauty standards and The American Dream.