Trying to read ‘The great Gatsby’, after selecting it as paperback amongst several versions of its movies, I thought so, if the word great was fitting in the title. It was difficult to find the book. And I felt if it was written for a movie by a man who wrote advertising slogans in the beginning of his career. Every scene appears fast like a movie and dialogue are very dramatic. The prosperity of America almost ugly then. Uglier were the Britons trying to have a share of it. Very little passing hints at the WWI the writer had recently fought. Or did he? But you are trapped by your situation and are bound to write about it.
The brisk few lines about a Jew, who finds Mr. Gatsby gentleman enough to introduce to his mother and sister, succinctly describe the matters. As did the presence of flat-footed or short-sighted young men, who could not join the army during war, only around, for the girls; and the husband of Nick’s cousin, who is threatened that other races are overwhelming the superior, white race, and the need to reverse this trend. The America between the two wars sounds a strange place indeed, from this book.
Before long one starts to think about the driver, who was dismissed for an hour or so by Daisy, on finding his cousin Nick, the narrator of the story, waiting for her for the tea, to which she was invited. Mr. Gatsby pretends to drops in and stays long, to meet his lover of earlier times. Nick leaves them alone for half an hour, while he comes out of his apartment and has a long look at the house of Mr. Gatsby nextdoor.
Then they go to that house, which is as big and glamorous as a palace. Mr. Gatsby brings to tears Daisy, throwing in front of her and Nick his shirts in various colors, imported from England, making a heap. It was her confession of the revived love. And then they wake a sleeping artist to play the piano for them, while it rained with thunder and Mr. Gatsby dropped the curtains of his house to light it as in night. Probably the driver will return, though Nick has left to leave the old lovers alone, listening to the embarrassed artist. The circumstance and scenes pass as if in a daze. Things look nebulous. One could forget the driver, alternately, or that he was away longer than he was sent for, in a free country.
The language is as glamorous as the people and life it describes. But it is nearly impossible to read more than a few pages at a time, as the prosperity of oil described is greasy and sticks the pages of this book. This author is made of a different sensibility, than, (?), say Hammingway, and never wears his Amaricanhood on his sleeves, to scrutinize it only. But does he?
Before long the short novella deteriorated into a love triangle, with the two men trying to win the love of Daisy. It was an unpleasant surprise of a celebrated book. The saving grace was the wisdom of Nick, who had earlier discovered the wickedness in the character of his cousin Daisy, who manipulates the men around her by falling for the richer. But her husband Tom is creating a scene, by claiming to have loved her only, and not his mistress. In spite of the temptation of going for the far more richer man, Mr. Gatsby, his earlier but poorer lover, who had earned his riches through shadowy bushiness after the war, as Tom has discovered, she is unsure of herself, as usual.
On his thirtieth birthday it occurs to Nick: ‘So we drove on towards death through the cooling twilight.’ There are none of the tragedies described belong to him, apart from the fact that he is poorer than his friends and relations and by choice not in a serious relationship. He is a clever man who is able to see through the people and their emotions with clarity, at times avoiding alcohols while everyone else is drinking, to do so. But to express such a despondent emotion on his birthday privately, there is no motive described in the story. So it neither shocks or wins sympathy of a reader.
A successful book becomes a trend which dogs the literary culture for decades later.