Revisiting a Classic –  The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

My daughter’s copy and my own

 

I’ve been reading a lot for grad school, a dozen plus books in a short time, some of which I’d read already, like this one. So yep, graduate school, ME and going back AGAIN  for another degree, in writing. It shouldn’t be as much work because I’m already doing this stuff. I’m a lifelong student or a student for life, happiest when I’m learning.  Gatsby is on my graduate reading list.

Here are my thoughts this time around.

It’s been about a decade since I read this classic. It sounds cliché but it is worth stating that you never read the same book twice; the words don’t change but you do, the reader. I’d forgotten so much: the narrator Nick and his cool steady voice, the ominous eyes on the billboard by the valley of ashes and West Egg and East Egg, never the twain shall meet.

THE TREATMENT OF TIME

How does time play into the narrative? Fitzgerald condenses time into key scenes and interactions with Nick who even mentions that the recollection of a few events during that summer may seem to distort reality. He admits to the reader that he is actually in the city with much to do each day, learning the bond trade and otherwise engaged in a work-a-day world, something the East Eggers know little of.

I read my daughter’s copy of the novel which had her highlights and marginalia, bringing my attention to the teenage mind and the points of interest for a first time reader. I noticed the lyricism and writing, the setting, symbolism, foreshadow and well crafted storyline. In nine chapters, the reader learns a lot about lovers’ follies and the illusion Gatsby believes, that he can go back in time and retrieve Daisy’s love, that Tom Buchanan and their child and life together mean little. Gatsby is not beyond Nick’s scorn, indeed he says so in the first paragraphs, but what Nick learns over the course of the summer, is the East Eggers and all their snobbery are as rakish and careless, more selfish than even the corrupt and deceptive James Gatz “Gatsby”. They hide behind their money, their status and their rationalizing delusions.

Nick opens the novel with a recollection of his father’s advice on criticism and closes with Gatsby’s wonder at the green light on Daisy’s dock, the idea that he could reclaim a past and a love so easily, that like the beacon across the narrow bay it was just there, shining brightly and calling to him. And there’s an optimism to the illusion after all.

 

Love this inscription on my used copy. The perfect gift for a a new citizen, the American novel!

It’s not long and worth the read, or as the case may be, re-read.  You’ll get more out of it now as someone who’s lived a bit since your teen years.

 

Jul 21, 2017

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

About the Author

Mylinh Shattan is a writer who has lived on three continents, served in the Army, worked in corporate America, and taught in college. She loves adventures, in the world and in the mind. Literature is relevant and learning is a lifelong pursuit, so you might as well have a bit of fun along the way.

Stay Up to Date

Become a better reader and writer today and try the TreeHouseLetter for free. Always learning with a bit of fun.

Latest Posts

What Music Teaches Us About Writing

7 Min read The Music in Prose Creative Writing Forum, West Point Sentence rhythm, Beryl Markham and David Foster Wallace Writer's Toolbox, Improve writing immediately * I met with the Creative Writing Forum at West Point to discuss what music can teach us about...

The New Words Are In, Merriam-Webster Dictionary

2 Min read 13 New words Late to Coffee with a Baker's dozen * New words are in. And, 370 words have been added to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary this September. You likely know many and below are some of my favorites. The editors break them down by category, but I...

Reading for Foodies

5 Min read 2 Book recs, memoir and craft Improve writing immediately AVAILABLE IN PODCAST Spotify iTunes * "Buy me five, ten, okay? That's 50, make it a 100," my mother says, leaving a Ben Franklin on the counter with two packs of TJ's peanut butter cups.* I order the...

Bringing Writers and Readers Together: Why I Write

2 Min read Short Take Creative process For writers and readers AVAILABLE ON PODCAST Spotify iTunes * Maybe the better way to think of this letter is, why you read TreeHouseLetter. For me, it's about why I write. Which, are two sides of the same coin. I updated my site...

“Old Age is Not for the Young”*

6 Min read 2 Book recs, by elderly writers Serial comma 10,000-hour-rule Explicit language, 13 to 103 AVAILABLE ON PODCAST Spotify iTunes * If you believe 10,000 hours of practice will help achieve mastery, say, on the violin or as a volleyball player, then the...

Books I Love

5 Min read 17 Books, 19.5 including mentions in footnotes Genres: Memoir, Essays, Fiction, Writing, Love, Poetry, War Toolbox, Texture in writing Contemporary and classic books from the top of my stacks, my more current reading. * The most common question I get is,...

What Book Would You Take to a Desert Island?

7 Min read 2 Book recs Film rec Article abstract, on Virtue and Vice* Toolbox, Improve writing, ages 9 to 99 AVAILABLE IN PODCAST Spotify iTunes * What book would you take to a desert island? I didn't know and hadn't given it much thought until Saturday when I told my...

Topics

Become a better reader and writer today and try the TreeHouseLetter for free. Always learning with a bit of fun.