I would like to talk to someone about teaching The Great Gatsby!

>>By ophelia   (Wednesday, 20 Aug 2003 04:49)

I love "The Great Gatsby" It's so melancholic...
Jay Gatsby had come a long way and his dream must have seen so close... :(
He believed in the green light....

>>By CuteSoul   (Sunday, 18 Jan 2004 19:25)

fitzgerald wrote more than just gatsby. his short stories are beautifully written gems of humor and sadness. but i guess when one thinks of fitzgerald one must think of gatsby, certainly a candidate for the great american novel. so sadly lyrical, so beautifully metaphorical, full of flapper frivolousness and deep pathos all at the same time. no one could write more poetic prose than fitzgerald. each sentence sings with its own beauty. and his daisy (which we know now to be his real-life Zelda) is a lovingly detailed portrait of the beautiful female existing qua beautiful female. his depiction of her husband, buchanon, is the quintessential arrogant rich solopsistic american, and he gives us a gatsby who is going to make it in a wide open economic and social world (the roaring 20"s) no matter what laws he has to break or whose wife he has to steal. and gatsby is not only accepted by the surrogate fitzgerald narrator, he is lauded by him, and seen as a tragic figure. if gatsby was tragic he was tragically shallow and tragically deluded into thinking he could steal what he wanted. the true tragedy is we never see him succeed. that would have been interesting. if he actually took daisy away and had to live with her and deal with her as another complex human being and not as some prize to be won over with wealth. yet, all this is a quibble as we experience the wonderful writing of F. scott. it is his genius to make these superficial characters (who can forget the woman golf pro who cheats at golf?) seem so fascinating. what is fascinating is the way fitzgerald can describe anything and anyone and make it all drip with imagery and meaning. hemingway was jealous of him, as he should have been.

>>By pestlequix   (Monday, 26 Jan 2004 01:19)

well, i'm still working on "Tender Is the Night", so i have no comment on that. yet. "The Beautiful and Damned" seemed to me more damned than beautiful (that phrase sounded really cool in my head but i doubt that it's original). Anthony and Gloria started getting on my nerves shortly after they got married, Anthony especially. i kept reading the book, hoping and expecting that it would suddenly 'turn the corner'. it didn't and i didn't like it.
"The Great Gatsby" is one of my favorite books of all time. as i see it, Jay Gatsby is everyone at some point --trying to be successful doing things that you know you should be doing. Jay's ultimate misfortune was rotten luck and an abyssmal career choice. and before i'm written off as a criminal, remember that the story takes place in the 1920s. more than a few people were complicit in skirting Prohibition and breaking or bending a host of other statutes. that's what happens during a boom (see the 1990s).
in Gatsby, Fitzgerald pulls off the seemingly impossible task of making Jay the head (figurehead?) of a criminal enterprise and at the same time a round, well-developed, and introspective character --think Tony Soprano, but not as vicious. i think Gatsby was shallow in the book, but only to the extent that it help him achieve his primary goal: becoming rich and prestigious. i think if he had managed to get Daisy he would have gone straight, insurance or something like that. or if not straight then a little wavy, say the stock market (1920s!). also, i think if Jay and Daisy had managed to get together (which was not likely) Daisy would have had the most trouble. she was far more superficial that Gatsby.

>>By mre   (Wednesday, 28 Jan 2004 00:15)

that's a scary thought: that daisy was far more superficial than gatsby. indeed this may be the great american novel for that reason. it shows what happens when two superficial people meet up in a superficial society. yet fitzgerald shows it with such art and lyricism that it makes you want to cry. perhaps there is something american in that, too: to feel deeply about the superficial. (and then, is it any longer superficial? has it become something profound? profoundly superficial?) perhaps this very comment is all too superficial? all too american? so I will stop now , or is it too late, for me or for america?

>>By pestlequix   (Wednesday, 4 Feb 2004 05:00)

It's a flippin' love story, for crissakes. Someone
once said that fantasies are like bubbles- touch
them and they disappear. I think that GG
illustrates that maxim in spades. Besides that,
FSF was writing about things that were happening
in his life at the time-if you read anything about his
(or Zelda's) bio you'll find that the similarities are
undeniable. Not literally, of course, but jeez, their
relationship reads better than any fiction that could
be dreamed up. Check it out.

>>By Faun   (Thursday, 5 Feb 2004 03:33)

Please read what I wrote about F Scott Fitzgerald on the F Scott Fitzgerald page of this site. What you have said above - all of you - largely infuriates me.

You are completely by-passing the concept of aspiration, and if any of you had studied Fitzgerald to the depths that I have, you would realise how importance this was to him, as a man, husband, writer, father, critic and discoverer of other authors.

Sorry - I don't mean to sound arrogant, but his life and works are my passion and I just think that you are overthinking certain aspects of his novels and underthinking others.

I'm going to post up an essay which I wrote comparing Tender and Gatsby. I wrote it over two years ago, prior to studying him to the depths which I now have, so it displays a great deal of naivety. Please forgive that.

>>By Mme Bovary   (Thursday, 26 Aug 2004 10:39)

Apologies for spelling error - cannot locate essay at present time, only rough draft on computer and hard drive not working.

>>By Mme Bovary   (Thursday, 26 Aug 2004 10:45)

A gifted writer, with the combined gifts of the poet and the artist. I have read almost all of Scott's work and can honestly say that it is a shame he was not recognised as the genius that he is, within his own lifetime.

The Great Gatsby is in itself, a clear definition and delineation of the aspiration not just of 'the American dream, but the human dream'. Jay Gatsby may have been destroyed by his desire to possess that dream, with all its intangible apurtenances, but at least his dream was pure and clean, built out of idealism and love. The corruption of the novel comes across more clearly via Daisy and Tom Buchannan's 'carelessness' - this delineated in the most concrete of fashions by Daisy's felling of Myrtle, whilst driving Gatsby's car. The irony here is plangent and all too obvious. Myrtle, with her limited and dreary existence, aspires to become more than she is - and although she cannot see it, more than she can ever be. Whilst Gatsby, with his Jeffersonian purity, aspires, transforms and becomes Jay Gatsby, shedding the naive and circumscribed life of James Gatz.

The wealth which Gatsby has struggled to attain in order to win back Daisy, wealth which like so many silk shirts, is worn so lightly and unselfconsciously by the very rich, is personified in the beauty and splendour of Gatsby's shiny nickel plated car. His car stands as a materialist symbol of aspiration, and is in effect its physical personification. Scott Fitzgerald gives over much description to the car, ensuring in the readers mind that it is viewed as a potent symbol of excessive, yet mysteriously achieved, wealth. When Gatsby relinquishes control of the car to Daisy, he also passes his own fate into Daisy's careless hands.

As Myrtle rushes out to accost the car, which she believes is being driven by her 'sweetie' Tom, she is killed outright, yet Gatsby, whose hopes are all but extinguished, must wait for his fate to reveal itself. In losing Daisy, Gatsby may feel spiritually dead, yet his idealism can be seen to have taken him to the very edges of human aspiration. The 'foul dust that floated in the wake of his dreams' is Fitzgerald's delineation of the power of wealth to corrupt. Only Nick Carraway, who stands equidistant between his tenuous family connection to Daisy and Tom and his moral and romantic affinity with Gatsby, remains untarnished by the corruption of wealth. His lack of prosperity in the 'bond' business is Fitzgerald's clever rejoinder regarding the moral integrity of the average mid-western man.

So The Great Gatsby tells us much about the 'human condition'. It tells us that dreams are the aspirational foodstuff of humanity and that integrity should never be forsaken in order to achieve those dreams. This in itself, tells us much about Fitzgerald's own life and opinions regarding his own artistic integrity. He believed that writing short stories for The Saturday Evening Post and the proliferation of other magazines who accepted his many stories, diluted his writerly capabilities and weakened his artistic integrity. Yet what Fitzgerald perhaps could not see, because he was far too close to the cause to see it clearly, was that he displayed immense integrity and a great deal of authorial fortitude in writing his short stories.

Fitzgerald died whilst The Great Gatsby was out of print, and it has been said that he died a prematurely grey little man, who haunted Hollywood bookshops, looking to see if his own books adorned their shelves. Seeking in fact, some tangible proof of his existence as a successful writer. When his only daughter Scottie, tried to boost his estate (thereby keeping her mother in the mental institution she had been confined to for many years) by selling his notebooks to his alma mater Princeton, the chief librarian stated that they were 'under no obligation to purchase the belongings of every second rate mid-western hack, just because they had had the priveledge of attending Princeton'.

It is some consolation - though small - to know that that gentleman had cause to regret his remarks, and it is a relief to know that eventually F Scott Fitzgerald was recognised, as Matthew J Bruccoli said, as a writer who 'got it right'.

>>By Mme Bovary (Monday, 23 Aug 2004 15:03)

>>By Mme Bovary   (Thursday, 26 Aug 2004 11:35)

Scott Fitzgerald got most of his ideas from his wife, Zelda. Read the letters they wrote to each other some time. She could have been an excellent writer in her own right but at that time Gertrude Stein, Sylvia Plath, etc. were some of the only women writers around. Scott is right about one thing. "The rich are different than you and I."

>>By karenwam   (Friday, 27 Aug 2004 18:34)

Yes I have read all of the letters published which they wrote to each other. You don't say whether you have actually read Save me the Waltz. If you have you will see that Zelda's gift for description is almost second to none. She saw things in a truly visionary way, but she lacked the writers ability to translate personal experience into an interesting and compelling narrative. No one who has read Zelda's novel and all of Scott's can deny that they both used material from their own lives and their experiences together, indeed, Zelda famously stated that 'Mr Fitzgerald believes that plaigarism begins at home'. However, F Scott Fitzgerald took those rich experiences and the experiences, lest we forget, of almost every single person who touched his life, and turned them into novels which are cherished today for their delineation of human hope, aspiration and dreams.

>>By Mme Bovary   (Saturday, 28 Aug 2004 14:44)

Scott was a great writer and any discussion about his plaigarism is premature and loosely founded. Stealing story frameworks, general concepts or lines from conversations is part of writing, but Scott came up with plenty just on his own. You can just tell if you read him.

>>By smirkbot   (Wednesday, 13 Oct 2004 08:29)

As indeed I have, not quite exhaustively (yet), but I am on my way. Fitzgerald's life and works are my literary passion, along with other great writers and poets of that particular era.

>>By Mme Bovary   (Wednesday, 13 Apr 2005 16:28)

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