Thursday, June 16, 2011

THe great gatsby

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The Great Gatsby and the Jazz Age

Published in 15, The Great Gatsby is the definitive American novel of the Jazz Age, the prosperous years following the First World War. After two successful novels and dozens of popular short stories, Fitzgerald set out to write something “new,” “extraordinary,” “beautiful,” and “simple.” Few readers of The Great Gatsby would dispute that he achieved his goals. Gatsby was an achievement that placed Fitzgerald forever in the canon of American literature.

Gatsby�Still a Sexy Story

While The Great Gatsby is representative of a particular time, which seems long ago, it is by no means an “historical novel”. The book maintains the timeless elements of a great story�glamour, money, romance, and murder. Its characters are attractive, its setting romantic, and its plot thoroughly engaging.

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The Great Gatsby recounts one man’s effort to win the heart of his long lost love. Along the way we go from intimate luncheon to rollicking all night party, from the ash-gray valley of the working class to the glittering heights of the extremely rich. We meet a fascinating cast of characters and we hold our breath as the story reaches its inevitable, tragic climax.

The American Dream, Class Conflict and Disillusionment

Like all great literature, The Great Gatsby works on many levels. On the surface it reads as a tragic love story of the Jazz Age. But between the plot points, the book speaks to many important themes in American life including idealism, aspiration, and disillusionment with the American dream.

Jay Gatsby, the novel’s protagonist, is often seen as an archetype of the American dreamer Self-made man sets out to achieve ambitious, seemingly impossible goals. Gatsby believes unconditionally in his dream and he pursues it with the energy, the enthusiasm, and the unabashed idealism that mirror those of the young nation. Through hard work and dedication, Gatsby has accumulated riches and status. But like America, the foundation of his wealth is not beyond reproach.

The book is also a study in class conflict. Fitzgerald carefully selects characters that represent different elements in society. We have old money in the form of Tom and Daisy Buchanan, the nouveau riche are embodied in Gatsby, Myrtle Wilson and her husband George symbolize the aspiring lower middle class and the working poor respectively. The drama of the story can be scene as a microcosm of American life.

On another level, Fitzgerald addresses the more philosophical and disconcerting realization that our dreams are often illusions, founded on romantic ideals easily crushed by harsh reality.

First Person Narrator

Fitzgerald employed a limited, first person point of view to tell his story. The narrator’s detached position gives him the chance to retell as well as comment on the characters and events. A mid-westerner in New York, Nick Carraway stands outside the society he observes. We witness the romantic affairs that form the core of the novel from a presumed impartial view.

Lyrical Prose Style

There is no doubt about Fitzgerald’s gift for language his prose is polished and poetic. Nowhere is Fitzgerald’s dedication to his craft and the evidence of his continuous re-writing more apparent. Here’s one example of his lyrical prose style

…and orchestras which set the rhythm of the year, summing up the sadness and suggestiveness of life in new tunes. All night the saxophones wailed the hopeless comment of the Beale Street Blues while a hundred pairs of golden and silver slippers shuffled in the shining dust.

The Novel’s Place in History

While Fitzgerald was disappointed in the sales of the book�he expected to make much more money than he did�he was pleased with his work and its critical reception. Eventually he sold the film and theatrical rights. The true brilliance of this book was not fully recognized until after Fitzgerald’s death in 140. It has since become one of the most analyzed works of American literature and continues to be a favorite among English teachers and students. A popular film version of the book was made in 174 starring Robert Redford and Mia Farrow.|An introduction to The Great Gatsby including the style, major themes, and overview.

The ideal of the American Dream is based on the fantasy that an individual can achieve success regardless of family history, race, or religion simply by working hard enough. Frequently, “success” is equated with the fortune that the independent, self reliant individual can win. In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald examines and critiques Jay Gatsby’s particular vision of the 10s American Dream. Though Fitzgerald himself is associated with the excesses of the “Roaring Twenties,” he is also an astute social critic whose novel does more to detail society’s failure to fulfill its potential than it does to glamorize the “Jazz Age.”

As a self-proclaimed “tale of the West,” the novel explores questions about...

The Great Gatsby, the first truly Modernist novel to find success in the United States, set the tone for the movement that defined American literature well into the present day. In Modernism, Fitzgerald found a way to define his world that would have been impossible in the Nineteenth-century Victorian style that still dominated American writing. In his style, portrayal of American morality and treatment of his characters, Fitzgerald left the Victorian era behind, creating a Modernist masterwork that still serves as a model for American fiction.

The gritty realism of William James and his contemporaries, and even the light-hearted tone of Mark Twain’s Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, was too limited to allow Fitzgerald...

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