✵ The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past . . .

Rating

Rating: 3 out of 5.

My Review

I feel quite conflicted about this book. I’m giving The Great Gatsby 3 stars mostly for its beautiful prose. Other than that, I have quite a few problems with this one.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot to take out of this book. I also am aware that Fitzgerald was a part of the post-World War l Lost Generation of America: brooding, depressed, and generally hopeless of society. I am not sure what his exact reason was for writing The Great Gatsby, but I do know that there’s a strong disapproval toward the American Dream in it. You see, Gatsby’s “single dream” is to get Daisy back, but in the end, it’s all pointless. In this way, Daisy represents the American Dream and relays the author’s belief that such a dream is just that . . . only a dream.

​. . . so he gave that up, and only the dead dream fought on as the afternoon slipped away, trying to touch what was no longer tangible, struggling unhappily, undespairingly, toward that lost voice across the room.

*spoilers ahead!* Furthermore, romantic relationships outside of marriage are definitely an issue in this one. Daisy herself is married, and yet Gatsby is still determined all throughout the book to have her. Tom, Daisy’s wife, also has a mistress and visits her often. (I despise Tom.) Though not unrealistic of the Roaring Twenties, the immorality is still something that should be addressed.

I do find it quite interesting that Fitzgerald actually considered naming this novel Under the Red, White, and Blue, which would have been almost cruel in irony and sarcasm. One 1925 reviewer of the story wrote that everyone in the story was “more or less rotten” and wished that “there had been somebody good in the book.” In the end, that is how I feel about it all as well. The Great Gatsby reflects the depravity of the human condition, but it also gives no hope. Fitzgerald leaves us to moan and to wallow in unhappiness in the same manner he left Jay Gatsby.

Note: I really appreciated my friends on Goodreads who shared their perspectives on the book. One wrote, “I think [The Great Gatsby] tends to grow on people the older they get.” I’m certainly willing to give this one another try in the future, and I’m sure my opinions will have changed at least somewhat by then.

Recommended for . . .
☐ Mature readers
☐ Lovers of classics
☐ Those interested in the Jazz Age

Have you ever read The Great Gatsby? If so, what did you think of it? What books did you discover through high school or college English courses? Do you remember what the last classic you read was? Let me know in the comments!

23 thoughts on “✵ The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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  1. My son and I read this together when he was a senior in high school. I agree with you about the prose–it is stunningly beauty at times– but overall we could not wait to be finished with it. And I really didn’t like any of the characters, although I grieved for Gatsby. What a waste.

    I always wonder who selects “the Great American Novel.” People will disagree with me on this, but I loved “Catcher in the Rye” when I was in high school. But not so much years later in adulthood. I think I’m always looking for the happy ending, tho my son likes to remind d me that there is beauty in a sad or bittersweet story as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I feel exactly as you do when it comes to Gatsby and the rest of the story, but I also own a beautiful hand-painted copy of the book and don’t want it to gather dust without having been read. 😄 My appreciation for good prose is infinite, but really. What a sad, sad thing The Great Gatsby is!

      That’s a good question! I’m not even sure what the exact definition of the Great American Novel is or if there even is one. I suppose I’d need to read more classics before I can judge, but I would agree with your son that sad and bittersweet endings are needed. Life doesn’t always end happily, and we need stories that are truthful to that while also showing the beauty in the darkness. I’m not sure The Great Gatsby does that, but like I mentioned in another comment below, my favorite novel is one that ends on a mournful tone. There’s something inexplicably beautiful in that story’s lament, and that feeling is one of the reasons I love the book so much.

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  2. I first read this book as a teenager and felt the same way you did and then I reread it during the pandemic and loved it so maybe it is one of those books that grows on you? I read Othello, Pride And Prejudice and The HandMaid’s Tale among many others in High School for my English classes. For some reasons, the books we read as teens seem so different when we grow up even though it’s the exact same book!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I’m thinking that’s more than probable! I’m hoping to reread after a few years have passed. I’ve rarely experienced a reread without discovering something new about the story and/or having different thoughts on it than before. When we evolve as people, our perspectives evolve as well!

      I appreciate English courses so much. Admittedly, it most likely would’ve taken me much more time to get to the classics that we read in class without the class.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah I think we change much more than we realise and over time we start to gain new perspectives which is awesome!

        English courses are the reason I love reading and writing and I so appreciate them for that because I don’t know where I would be without either!

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  3. My mum read this and said it was really boring so now I’m very sceptical of picking it up lol.
    I think one difference between fiction from a Christian worldview and fiction with another worldview is that while they both can portray the depths of human depravity, one gives hope while the other simply describes “the state of things”.

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    1. I didn’t find it boring! It’s also actually super short (Google says 47,094 words). 😊

      Yes, those are wise words! Secular books might give some hope, but it’s not quite the same. For example, while I was reading Moonscript, I tried to imagine a redemption arc for Errance without God involved. Compared to the true redemption Hannah wrote, my “secular” scenario seemed surface-level and a little unrealistic.

      However, I do appreciate books like The Great Gatsby for not glorifying sin. Tom was an idiot, and Fitzgerald portrayed him as such. Gatsby was too stubborn and was pining after a married woman, and he has mental consequences of his own. The Great Gatsby acknowledges that we live in a bit of a hopeless world, and it’s not really wrong. That’s the reason Christians don’t place their ultimate hope in this world.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Great review, and I definitely agree with several of your points here. I can also see it having potential to grow on someone over time?
    Ahaha, I remember hating everything about this book until the very last chapter… Then crying because it was over. 😅

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Crying less because I loved it, and more because I had unexpectedly become attached by the end and had hoped for some resolution or at least a hint of hope for… someone (anyone really, this is such a depressing and wretched read considering the horribleness of all the characters 😩😂) but nope! *Sigh*

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      1. Aww. 😥😥😥 Honestly, that reminds me a little of how some of my friends felt about reading The Children of Húrin. No happy ending there, either… I adore TCoH, though! 😅 I do suppose one could deduce that the ending was “payment” for some of the immoral actions the characters chose (e.g. the adultery from Tom and the desire to commit adultery from Gatsby and Daisy) and a warning to readers not to act as the characters did. Kinda a harsh lesson, huh?

        Liked by 1 person

        1. True, and by the end, I didn’t hate the story, but it also isn’t one I’d recommend often. 😂 I think it was required for school, so those are always odd or difficult to explain anyway, unlike other books I read because I know I’ll likely love or at least enjoy them, school reads are usually more complex as to whether I love them or not? It was interesting in a character study or a case study type of way, like you mentioned about being cautionary or showing a side of humanity that we often overlook or try to avoid thinking about (perhaps like Lord of the Flies or similar classics we read for school?) But not one someone is likely to enjoy just as a comfort or pleasure read 😅

          (I honestly enjoy Tolkien’s writing style, and though I know several of his also don’t have happy ending, have wanted to read them at some point? Just haven’t gotten to yet.)

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Oh, goodness, The Great Gatsby would definitely not be a comfort read! 😂 But, wow. Judging from the comments and from GR reviews from friends, it seems like quite a few people read this one because of school, and that was also the case for me. I’m not sure I want to read Lord of the Flies. The Hunger Games is bad enough for me! 😅

            I absolutely adore Tolkien. There’s just something about Middle-earth that’s timeless and comforting and beautiful. The Silmarillion is actually my favorite of his works (wow, how come I always end up bringing up The Silm into my conversations? 😳😅). It’s tragic and doesn’t really end happily, but for me, it’s also been a comfort in some of my hardest moments. I usually just end up thinking, “If _____ can persevere and stay strong until the end, so can I.” 😂 Yes, that’s how much the story means to me.

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    2. Oh, that’s funny! 😆😅 Would that mean that Fitzgerald actually got you to like the story and/or characters in some way? I do remember feeling for Jay Gatsby (goodness, what happened to him was so sudden and unexpected!).

      Like

  5. Ah, yes… I read this for school a while back and very much agree with this review! The prose is undeniably gorgeous but yeah, the depravity and unresolved theme of hopelessness is so sad! 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahh, I’m glad I’m not alone! (I also read this for school, by the way!) I’ve also wondered whether there’s any rules to what required reading schools can allow… Can they really require students to read literature with the sort of content The Great Gatsby has? Apparently so…

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Amaya! I’m also trying to read more classics. They usually have a timeless feel about them, which is wonderful, but they’re also that much more difficult to read, you know?

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I think your review was pretty spot on, Lily! I never read the book but I saw one of the many movie versions many years ago. It was the 1974 version with Robert Redford and Mia Farrow. I really didn’t see the appeal of the story, in fact I also thought it was depressing and down right boring! Glad it wasn’t just me!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Gina! This is a book that we studied in school, so I learned lots of interesting tidbits from our lessons. I’m willing to watch the films because I find the Jazz Age to be flashy and beautiful in its own way, but you’re right that the book was real depressing. 🥲

      Like

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