neděle 3. června 2012

F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Great Gatsby (Velký Gatsby)

  We had to read The Great Gatsby for a literary seminar but I had been planning to read it for some time before that. Unfortunately, I didn’t like the book very much.
The story is pretty simple. Nick moves into a house next to a huge mansion whose owner has bombastic parties all the time. He is not terribly well-off himself but has rich friends – Tom and Daisy. When he’s having a dinner with them he meets Jordan – a rich, young girl he likes – and also learns that Tom is cheating on Daisy. He later becomes friends with his neighbor Jay Gatsby and attends to his parties.
   Well, the story actually isn’t so simple so I will somehow shorten it. It is revealed that Jay knows Daisy and that he fell in love with her years before but couldn’t marry her because he was poor and she was damned rich. He actually became rich just to get on the same level as she is and they start having an affaire. Daisy than has a craziest idea – to invite Nick, Jordan and Jay to their house. The whole thing than gets crazier and crazier, half the characters die and it is really pretty fucked up.
   So what is it about? Yeah, well, mostly about money and what it can do to you and what it can’t do for you. Which, as a theme, got used up few centuries ago. It is of course partly psychological novel about relationships and love. The love story is quite strong and an important part of the book. It’s not the most important but it more or less drives the narrative. It partly feels as a detective story because  Nick keeps trying to find out what the hell is going on and ultimately is the only one who knows it.
   The greatest positive of this boos are its poetic description. They are great just as they are but combined with the theme of cold world of big money, they give the book a completely new dimension. I really like this part:

We walked through a high hallway into a bright rosy-colored space, fragilely bound into the house by French windows at either end. 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 the 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 in 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 women ballooned slowly to the floor.
The younger of the two was a stranger to me. She was extended full length at her end of the divan, completely motionless, and with her chin raised a little, as if she were balancing something on it which was quite likely to fall. If she saw me out of the corner of her eyes she gave no hint of it — indeed, I was almost surprised into murmuring an apology for having disturbed her by coming in.

   Well, to sum it up, objectively, it is a good book. I just didn’t enjoy it very much, maybe I was reading it too much only on the story level and didn’t really bother thinking about it. But it is an important text, especially as one of these American-dream-breaking books. On the other hand, I could have had led a happy life even if I never read it.

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