Monday, 14 March 2016

The Great Gatsby, Old and New



The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald


published 1926



Great Gatsby




The windows were ajar and gleaming white against the fresh grass outside that seemed to grow a little way into the house. A breeze blew through the room, blew curtains in at one end and out the other like pale flags, twisting them up toward the frosted wedding-cake of a ceiling, and then rippled over the wine-colored rug, making a shadow on it as wind does on the sea.

The only completely stationary object in the room was an enormous couch on which two young women were buoyed up as though upon an anchored balloon. They were both in white, and their dresses were rippling and fluttering as if they had just been blown back after a short flight around the house. I must have stood for a few moments listening to the whip and snap of the curtains and the groan of a picture on the wall. Then there was a boom as Tom Buchanan shut the rear windows and the caught wind died out about the room, and the curtains and the rugs and the two young woman ballooned slowly to the floor.
 

commentary: I’ve been thinking about The Great Gatsby in relation to the 2015 book Gorsky by Vesna Goldsworthy – on the blog recently.

There have been a couple of entries on the original book – I chose it for the 100th blogpost, and did another post after seeing a stage production which consisted of reading, and also acting, the entire text of the book. It has long been one of my favourite books – which is why I was initially suspicious of the new book, though I totally was won over by Gorsky and rate it very highly.

Fitzgerald’s book is amazingly short but packed full with a very dense plot. If you haven’t read it for a while, you have to think hard to work out the series of events that decide Gatsby’s fate. (The modern book has a similar complex pattern).

And whenever I read it I come across amazing phrases, conversations, images and similes that I don’t recall. The passage above, however, has long been a favourite. I wanted to feature it on the blog earlier, and loved this picture (which is by the photography pioneer Adolf de Meyer) but worried that the women were not both sitting, and they were outside, and there was no couch. But these days I am much more freewheeling with my choice of pictures, having realized that I make the rules.

Daisy is about to say ‘I’m p-paralysed with happiness.’

Gatsby locks in also with with Pushkin and Eugene Onegin, on the blog last week.







15 comments:

  1. Happy to see The Great Gatsby get another mention, Moira. It's got so much to it that I can see why you've always liked it so well. Even if you don't do the stereotypical 'what does the green light mean' sort of analysis, you end up with so many characters, conversations, incidents and so on to think about! It's such delicious 'food for thought,' and a real look at the human experience.

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    1. Yes, that's a great description Margot. As I say, I'm always amazed by how short it is when it has so much in it.

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  2. Love that image and the book is just a wonder - I must, must re-read it - thanks Moira!

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    1. Thanks Sergio- I love the photo and the book. And as you say, you can re-read it endlessly.

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  3. I read "The Great Gatsby" last year and couldn't believe quite how good it was - or how short! So subtly put together, so beautifully written, so sharply and wittily observed...And it pays quite proper respect to the power and importance of clothes. So, as you said in your earlier post on the book, pretty much the perfect novel!

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    1. Yes exactly - so glad you agree! And despite loving it so much, it always impresses me even more each time.

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  4. Moira, I saw the last adaptation of the film. I thought it was well made though I'd have probably enjoyed it more had I read the book.

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    1. I still haven't seen that version Prashant, but would like to... will get round to it.

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  5. Yes, that's one of my favourite bits too. I love it too when Gatsby pulls out all those shirts. BTW, I thought Robert Redford was all wrong in the film.

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    1. Oh yes, the shirts! And indeed - could he have been more waspy? Redford was exactly what Gatsby wanted to be and wasn't.

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    2. You've hit the nail on the head.

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  6. Amazingly short sounds good. And with all the good things people are saying about it I should read it.

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    1. It's an American classic Tracy! In the UK now a lot of young people do it in (what you would call) High School, which I think is great - we didn't do American books all that much in school when I was young...

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