Friday, May 24, 2013

The Great Gatsby

As an English major I read and studied the novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald a long time ago, in college.  I really didn't get it.  Saying that makes me realize once again that education is often wasted on the young.  How do we relate when we have had no real life experiences ourselves, and our background knowledge of history and social change in limited by our at most twenty years of life?

I know this is considered one of the great American novels, but like so many other great works of fiction, the characters seemed so consumed by their fatal flaws as to be unlikable, and the outcomes were always depressing.

I saw the 1974 version of the movie, with Robert Redford and Mia Farrow and was left with much the same feeling as the novel:  desperate people doing desperate things to the point of destruction. 

Forgive me, but I like good story telling.  And contrary to the opinion of many movie critics, I think this movie version is just that - good story telling.   In text it was true to the novel, but this is big screen movie making in 2013 technological style.  It is beautiful!  The music is from mixed eras.  The costuming is wonderful.  The big screen sets are computer generated and are gorgeous, if fantastical.   And the story line is so clear that I finally understand fully what the book is about.  

Sure, it may be simplified, lacking in deeper emotion, a travesty to literature snobs, but these characters are understood, and sometimes even likable!

What can I say?  I went to the theater, paid my money, and was well entertained for two hours.  That's all I ask.


  1. will have to checkout that movie...didn't read the book.

  2. Okay! Now I'll go see it. Thanks for the review, Linda. Knowing just what to expect is valuable. :-)

  3. I have read the book twice and seen the Farrow/Redford movie. I guess I accept that self-destruction is a theme in literature. I will see the recent release when it is on television more than likely.

  4. Oh, thank you for this. I wasn't sure about going to see this, but now, based on your review, I'm going to see if I can pressure my husband into taking me to see this. I could use some good entertainment.

    I love The Great Gatsby. I remember reading it back in the 70's while sunbathing while my husband was away at Army Reservist summer training. I could not stop reading and got a terrible sunburn.

  5. Education is not wasted on the young. It helps us to make better sense of the world for the rest of out life. You're the perfect example of that.
    I have to put the Great Gatsby on my list of books to read.

  6. Linda, Cannot tell you the number of times I actually taught this book to American Lit classes. I think I learned something new every time I did. It is definitely a story of contradiction and the re-defining of the American Dream, but I bet you already know that! Wish we could talk about this over a nice cup of coffee!

    PS Thought about you as we cruised from Victoria to Seattle.

  7. Haven't read the book--how did I get out of school with out that-- but thanks to your review, I will put it on my Netflix queue. I really need to like at least one character, hope that happens.

  8. Isn't it funny? I had to read the book in college and just couldn't get myself into it.

    Then again it took me 3 or 4 tries to get into Pride and Prejudice and then I read it two times and saw all the different versions of the movies.

    Perhaps I'll have to try Gatsby again. All I remember about it was how flawed and pitiful the characters were.


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