Monday, May 27, 2013

The Great Gatsby: First Impressions

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Published 1925

I was extremely excited when I first viewed The Well-Educated Mind list of novels and saw The Great Gatsby included; but the only reason I can think of why was because I prejudged it as a great American novel with a special, secret ingredient.  I really knew nothing more about it.

Last week I went to San Francisco with my family, and on day one my husband took the kids to see "Iron Man 3" - not my thing - so I hit the local Barnes & Noble and scoped out both floors.  I purchased a copy of Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton and Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, the next book on TWEM list.  

However, I still had an hour or more to spare, therefore I borrowed a B&N copy of The Great Gatsby from the shelf, bought a Carmel Frappaccino in Starbucks, and devoured the first chapter of my book.  Of course, it was not my book, so I could not write in it, and I had no way to take notes; but it was fairly easy to ingest, and I went away with a decent mental picture of its introduction.
The Great Gatsby narrator, Nick, is a part of the story he is telling.   He comes from a prominent, well-to-do family, the Carraways from the Midwest.  He graduates college, serves in WWI, and afterward, moves to New York (“out on the Island," as we New Yorkers call it) and becomes a bond man.  He is renting a place next door to Mr. Gatsby's mansion, which he will learn more of later.

Nick's father has given him advice: “Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone, just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had" and "a sense of the fundamental decencies is parceled out unequally at birth."  (We'll discuss those later.)

Nick describes himself as tolerant and moral, although with limits.  He seems to toot his own horn, and I am a little apprehensive of people who “proclaim their own goodness,” but up front, I find Nick to be a decent guy.

Some other important notes:
Tom Buchanan, Nick's friend from college, is married to Nick's cousin, Daisy.  Tom is having an affair with another woman.  And there is another female character, Miss Jordan Baker, a champion golfer who is friends with Daisy and possibly a prospective love interest for Nick.  We shall see.

And so begins my first encounter with a highly anticipated novel.


Ellie said...

I'm interested to read your thoughts on this novel. It has become one of my favourites but when I first read it I hated it with a passion. I hope you enjoy reading it :)

Fanda Classiclit said...

Those two advices are very interesting, aren't they? Especially the last one.
Well, like Ellie, I'm curious too to read your further thoughts on The Great Gatsby! ;)

Ruth said...

I am already on chapter VI, and it is still holding my attention. I'm really glad because, like I said, I have such high expectations for it.

Ruth said...

Yes, and I held off reading your posts on TGG until I started to write my summaries, and I really like your prompt on the last question b/c it does beg the question: if we are given a "moral compass" at birth, whom do we get it from? And I just have a million directions to go with this idea, but I am going to save it for my final review. I look forward to reading all of your reviews on TGG as I finish my summaries.

Fanda Classiclit said...

Moreover, if we get it unequally, it means some gets good and some gets bad. And I can't accept an idea that God created men just to be bad (by planting bad moral in him). Anyway...I'll look forward to your final conclusion. :)