I’m not a huge fan of American writers. I’m even less a fan of books about the Jazz Age. It’s not my favorite part of history; I’m more partial to either Medieval History or Colonial History. I haven’t figured how those two juxtapose in my mind yet, but so be it.
In an effort of widen my horizons, though, I delved into my daughter’s library and pulled out The Great Gatsby. I have no interest in seeing the new film, but after reading the book I understand the reason the director took the license that he did and I do believe that DiCaprio would make a great Gatsby. <wink, wink>
First of all, I did not like any character in the book from Nick to Daisy to Gatsby himself. The only character I felt any sympathy towards was Jay’s father when he comes to plan the funeral. In a discussion with said daughter I realized that this was the point – you aren’t supposed to “like” anyone. It is a peek into the lives of the very rich and shallow people that society had created in early 20th century America.
It’s really not that different now. We are more enlightened, so we say, but we still idolize the very people who are least worthy of being idols. We are lost people, trying to recreate our lives into what we think they should be instead of living who we are and accepting with grateful hands the path we’ve been given.
I do not pretend to be able to analyze all the layers of The Great Gatsby. To do that I must crack it open again and read it once more and I’m not willing to do that right now.
So, if you decide to crack open this very popular book, remember two things 1) You aren’t supposed to like anyone and 2) It is a commentary, not just on life 100 years ago, but life right now in the post-modern age.
I encourage you to try it, it’s a small book and it doesn’t thwack you over the head with philosophy, it is much more subtle than that. I have found myself looking at life through the Gatsby eyes several times. It’s a book that you can reflect on and I’m enjoying it more in that sense.