Friday, 6 January 2012

The Great Gatsby read-a-long - week 1

First of all, a big thank you to the Sleepless Reader for introducing me to all the fun events happening in Blogger-land.  She highly recommended the unputdownables for their read-a-longs, so I happily obliged.  What is more, The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald has been one of the TBR books for a very long time - actually ever since I watched the movie (which I loved, loved, loved).  This read-a-long will give me the opportunity to see whether the film was loyal to the book, and to discover the true story behind the "roaring Twenties".

Well, from the very beginning I was hooked.  Even the mere description by Nick of the background to this book is oozing cynicism and boredom, a boredom only known to people who have everything, been everywhere, done it all. So unnatural with the actual era of Prohibition, Fitzgerald makes a point to bring to our attention that part of society benefiting from the soaring economy of the 1920's, that lingers around drinking and goes to lavish parties uninvited. I found the chronology of the novel very important in this first part, as it marks the economic prosperity following the end of WWI and the general feeling of perpetual well-being.

Things that are not "politically correct":  the most impressive part will certainly have to be the scene where Tom breaks his mistress's nose.  Certainly by today's standards this would be inexcusable, I believe nevertheless that Fitzgerald used this scene to showcase the extent to Tom's temper and aggression, which would go as far as hitting a woman violently (and then people around them would just scold him???).  What I can not accept, however, is the darkness that surrounds Daisy.  Maybe I'm too sensitive when it comes to children, but I still cannot believe that her wish for her newborn daughter would be to

"hope she'll be a fool - that's the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool...."

Bearing in mind that this is the decade that will give rise to the suffragette movement, I would expect a mother to wish for her child to move past the boundaries that society imposes.  No, I can't see myself growing warm on her...  Would I grow warm on Tom?  No, definitely no - a former Adonis, who pushes his weight around and who believes that by reading some books he's an intellectual?  (and his statement on Jordan: "She's a nice girl -  they oughtn't to let her run around the country this way"... uurggghhhh!!!) I truly believe that Fitzgerald couldn't have picked a better couple to demonstrate the opulence that exists in certain social classes, the exaggeration and consequently the total disregard for fellow humans! 

Who is missing?  Gatsby, of course, who's not yet appeared but whose house, cars, (unread) books and parties are described to the minute detail... Looking forward to continue reading!

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