Book Review : The Great Gatsby
The Jazz Age not only gave precedence to the music but also induced a cultural wave across the other art forms. Artists like Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald(no relation) signified the Roaring Twenties and influenced many people to swing and also, to write. F. Scott Fitzgerald coined the term ‘The Jazz Age’ and his novels are a testament to the time of prohibition and loose morals in 1920’s America.
Fitzgerald didn’t have commercial success with The Great Gatsby when it came out in 1925. His other novels sold extremely well and fuelled the carefree lifestyle the Fitzgeralds were known to have. The characters in his books have irresponsible lives populated by glamorous parties, glitzy women and dashing young men.
The atmosphere of levity seems like a reaction to the first World War. In a world staggered by the horrors of war, Fitzgerald’s books opened the doors to a world which sparkled, “clean, hard and limited”.
The Great Gatsby is an open-ended book. The story seems incomplete, fractured even. But its quick, clicking pace and weight of existential references keeps the reader riveted and wanting more. The world he creates is ephemeral but complete. His writing style, the adjectives he uses throws light on the characters like high intensity discharge lamps on stage. The whole book reads like a dramatic play and if your imagination is active enough you will see Nick Carraway, the narrator, meeting Jay Gatsby, Jordan Baker, Daisy Buchanan and her husband Tom Buchanan.
Nick’s elusive neighbour, Gatsby is the focal point of the novel. The intangible relationships between the various characters, Gatsby set firmly in the centre of them all, evolve deceptively. Just when the story looks entrenched in parties, alcohol and provocative affairs, Fitzgerald flips the carpet and exposes the ugly interweave. Fitzgerald’s command over language and structure blend together perfectly making the transition from titillating to thrilling almost poetic.
Ditzy and glossy women, two-timing and vacillating men and generally selfish people abound the pages of Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. The reader may find the book lacking, especially those who crave structured, complete novels. But the book is a hallmark of the era it was written in, not just in terms of culture but also in terms of philosophy. How many instances of existentialism can you find in The Great Gatsby?
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