When I was in high school, my literature teacher teacher decided not to read The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The reason? I still don’t have a clue. I think it was due to content and subject matter (she did lean a bit on the conservative side). Seeing as the new movie is coming out this summer, and I’ll be teaching TGG to my own students next semester, I finally sat myself down and read the thing.
Some classic books truly hold up to the hype projected around them (Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Dracula, The Hobbit, The Chronicles of Narnia, just to name a few), but this one wasn’t as fantastic as I was expecting. It was good, and I’d want to read it again to have a full understanding of the events in the book as well as study the themes in depth, but it won’t gain a place on my “favorites” shelf. To be honest, I’m a bit ambivalent.
I’m a reader who enjoys limitless descriptions – I want to smell, hear, see, and taste the setting before I really dig deep into the actual story. With TGG, I didn’t get that. Personal preferences aside, the story was actually interesting, after I figured out the tangled web of names and relationships. And at 180 pages, there wasn’t much time for that before the plot really progressed. Here’s a link to a great character/relationship map that I found on Pinterest as a supplemental tool to the reading: [Beware: spoiler alert]
Fitzgerald presents an interesting picture of the 1920s, and Gatsby is an undeniably important part of literary history in that time period, which is inherently why I would recommend the book. If you’re patient enough to read a bit slower than usual, and take extra time to understand certain parts (especially the ending – I had to Wikipedia that one for clarity), then you should be fine. If you want lavish descriptions, stay away!