Literature Review

REVIEW: The Great Gatsby (1925 – Novel)

This review marks the first time I officially review literature. Now, I won’t be releasing a lot of reviews – but some will come up as I finish certain books. Note that I won’t be giving a review score for literature, the reason for that can be found in Dead Poets Society – in the scene wherein Keating wants the students to rip out the introduction. I begin my literature review-process with what is called the great American novel. Themes of capital vs. romance and the American Dream are interweaved in a story of want – and objectification.

I wonder when students are assigned to read this novel in America – I guess that it might be in High School (as most Danes come across it at the corresponding level). Somehow I managed to miss this book though, other books were read by me in high school. I finally got around to reading it at University. Now, it is absolutely important to state that I will be discussing spoilers, and book reviews are seldom without spoilers. So, yeah, there’s your warning. Having said that, this book is a part of my curriculum – so I will leave out my in-depth analysis – so that I am able to use it for the exam.

Now, the book itself is written from the first person perspective, and our narrator (Nick Carraway) is extremely unreliable. But, for me, the reason why he’s unreliable is extremely important. I really love reading about friendships, and especially friendships that are more than just simple. Carraway’s relationship with Gatsby is extremely muddled, as Nick declares that Gatsby represents everything he loathes – while Nick almost drools over the illusion set forth by Gatsby, deemed ‘great’ by our narrator.

The novel is beautiful – as it highlights American origins, American Dreams – and the contemporary outlook. It has been said that this novel predicted the great depression. The final two pages are infamous for its imagery, both in describing Gatsby’s wants and dreams – but also for describing Dutch settling sailors – how they drooled over the Promised Land – and how Long Island – America – now is a wasteland.

I love this novel for its unreliable narrator’s almost homoerotic relationship with the titular character, for its late loathing of the main female character – but also for the dream. For the social mobility presented in this novel is extremely important to me, and so is the depressing ending – highlighting the proposed hope, while taking it away… And one fine morning.

This is the great American novel. While Gatsby’s greatness can be contended, the legacy of the book cannot. And while its dreams may be universal – it is the distinctly American Promised Land that makes us believe this showman, this Houdini – this illusionist. And yes, I think Gatsby was great.