Opening line: ‘In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my head ever since.’
That advice, to pause and reflect on the perspective of someone you are about to criticise, is what informs Nick Carraway as an observer-narrator in The Great Gatsby. Nick’s come from the mid-west looking for work in New York as a bonds man. He ends up finding a small place to live on the West Egg on Long Island with millionaires as his neighbours. Across the bay on the East Egg lives his cousin Daisy and her husband, Tom Buchanan. But far more interesting is Nick’s eccentric neighbour: Jay Gatsby, mysterious, aloof, and excessively wealthy. That summer Nick goes along to Gatsby’s wild parties and witnesses the tangling and unraveling of American high society in the 1920s.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is often lauded as the best American novel. I’ve read it for high school and for Civ in undergraduate, and it is a different experience reading it now on my own. Yes, I still caught the themes of industrialization, inventing oneself anew for the American Dream, the stagnation or pollution of human relationships in the post-WWI world, but I also noticed the quieter, more poignant scenes of Gatsby’s and Daisy’s tragic history. A new film adaptation is coming out later this year with Leonardo DiCaprio cast as Gatsby — an excellent choice and I’m eager to see the film when it comes out in May.