The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald


The plot in the Great Gatsby is set in the fictional town of West Egg on Long Island, New York during the summer of 1922. The narrator is Nick Carraway, a young guy who at the start of the summer just moved to the area to work as a bonds salesman. His closest neighbor is the enigmatic and super rich Mr. Jay Gatsby, who throws wild parties all the time, but his guests doesn't seem to know him. Nick meets with his cousin Daisy and her husband Tom Buchannan. Tom and Gatsby turns out to be rivals and they in turn drive the story forward, ultimately towards its tragic end. 

The bookstore chains had a book sale a while ago, and as I am a sucker for books I went to at least five of the stores. Needless to say I bought more than a few books. If this pace continues I must get more book shelves. Anyway... I digress. One of the books I picked up was The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I didn't know much about it other than it is considered a classic of American literature. And since it was fairly short and cheap I bought it together with a pile of other books. 

The narrator takes the reader on a tour of the 1920s, the roaring 20s. We are shown massive parties and the new society that has emerged after WWI. There are lots of brand new inventions that are coming to full use such as the radio, electricity, cars, photography, and the telephone.

"I began to like New York, the racy, adventurous feel of it at night, and the satisfaction that the constant flicker of men and women and machines gives to the restless eye." 

Nick is clearly impressed with all the technology and he even compares Mr. Gatsby to a seismograph right at the beginning. ".. some heightened sensitivity to the promises of life, as if he were related to one of those intricate machines that register earthquakes ten thousand miles away." 

Gradually we learn that few if any really knows Mr. Gatsby and there are numerous rumors about him. He might be a murderer, an ex-soldier, the lost relative of Kaiser Wilhelm, and several other rumors. Gatsby observes his parties but doesn't really participates. Nick Carraway becomes his only friend, and he has an ability of gaining the trust of many. So he learns the secrets of the different characters in the book. He learns about Tom Buccannans mistress for one thing, not to mention the true story of how Jay Gatsby got his money.

<Spoiler alert>

It turns out that Daisy and Gatsby are old lovers from five years ago. But because of the war and mostly because Gatsby still was poor at the time, their relationship couldn't get started. So Daisy married Tom, an already famous sports celebrity from a rich family. Gatsby was unhappily in love with Daisy and the only reason he bought the mansion in the first place was to impress Daisy. He threw the parties so she would see how successful he had become. Which explains why he didn't really pay them much attention. After he did get her attention he canceled all further parties, and even changed his staff. So they could be left alone. Eventually Tom finds out that his wife is having an affair, which leads to a very awkward dinner and a trip into town with all involved characters. Even Jordan and Nick are a part of this. On the way back ​Daisy and Gatsby runs over and kills Tom's mistress, and they make the grave mistake of not stopping.  The dead woman's husband is overcome with grief and after Tom tells him who's responsible he goes to Gatsby's residence. Where he promptly kills both Gatsby and himself with a revolver. In the aftermath Nick discovers that he truly was Gatsby's only friend when almost no one attends the funeral.

I found this book to be a bit of a challenge to be honest. Even though it is a short one. I think this was mainly because I interrupted myself throughout the reading. I only read a little here and there which made the whole story a bit hard to follow. But after I listened to the audio book and watched the film with Leo Decaprio from 2013 I got a lot more out of it. I must say that I did like the language in the book. There are lots of beautiful descriptions, and the language in general is very well thought out. And it shows. The rivalry between Tom and Gatsby is not only between competing men, but also between established wealth and self made wealth, between the upper class of society and the ones who desperately wants to be a part of it. It is also about the superficial consumerism that grew in that decade.  

"Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter?tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And then one fine morning? So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."

All in all I liked the book.
Rating of 4 out of 6. 
494 books left!

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, Notodden

Im interested in the natural world and normally read books about science such as biology, our evolutionary history, astronomy, and general popscience. I occasionally dabble in archeology, philosophy, ancient history, and world religions too. To mention a few interests. Ive also been interested in Diving, Kayaking, and Triathlon for years. Have also done all kinds of martial arts for more than 10 years. Ive now been working for the Norwegian Humanist Association (Human-Etisk Forbund) since 2012.