Pensive Ponderings

Reflections on things that matter.

Summer Reading book #5: “The Great Gatsby”

The Great Gatsby book cover

“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 one fine morning–.  So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

I seem to be in the mood to re-read books this summer, and what better title to harken back to than The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald? I have had occasion to read this book a couple of times in my life, but I always fell short of really completing it, or completely understanding it.

The Great Gatsby was one of those books that intrigued me in school because of its setting. I love books about the past, especially iconic parts of the past, like the roaring 20s. The story feels a bit larger than life, with all of the 1920’s high life. While reading it, I couldn’t help thinking of my high school history class, when we talked about the Biltmore Estate and all of the opulent parties that used to beheld there around the same time. It sounded like something right out of the pages of this novel, and I can’t help but wonder how many grand parties Mr. Fitzgerald happened to attend. It’s his stunning prose about America’s diamond-studded past that makes me want to read every line he’s ever penned.

For those out there who did not watch the 2013 movie adaptation of the title (I haven’t seen it yet, either), The Great Gatsby is a good old love story about a man trying to win back the woman he loved and lost.  I don’t want to give too much away, because the book isn’t very long, and the story isn’t that dense, so even a very little bit of exposition might constitute a spoiler. It’s a straight-forward story with a bit of a moral to it. The idea is that you can’t live in the past…or can you? Is life just a series of impulses to re-experience lost pleasures or right past wrongs?

The story, though about Gatsby, is told in the narrative voice of his neighbor, Nick Carraway. It’s not quite a frame narrative, since Nick mostly relates parts of the story he himself was a party to, giving further explanations only occasionally. It’s interesting to have the main character’s experiences from a supporting characters point of view. The book is most decidedly about Jay Gatsby, and not Nick Carraway.

I find that I understand this book better this time around, and I attribute that to my age. I think there’s something to be said about being able to empathize with the late-20’s-early-30s characters as one of them. As a teenager, I couldn’t quite feel for Daisy, or even Nick (I still don’t understand Jordan, but that’s a whole other problem). The characters often annoyed me because I couldn’t understand their feelings. Before, I was a spectator. Now, I’m a peer. That makes a great difference.

Did any of you have to read this book in high school or college? Did you love it or hate it? Would you give another read? Let me know in the comments, and as always, thanks for reading.

Yours Truly,

Regina, the Pensive Ponderer

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