Text Review: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

So I just finished reading The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald!

It’s the text under Advanced English Module A – Elective 2: Texts in Time and used in comparison with Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s sonnets.

The book is quite an easy read – only 134 pages in my edition split into 9 chapters.

However, I can’t see many students actually enjoying reading this book and its story (please correct me if I’m wrong about this). Firstly, the story is too short for you to develop any real connection to any of the characters, not even the narrator Nick Carraway. All the events that happen seem rather poetic (read: random) and somewhat contrived to make social critique. As I result, I read this with a kind of strong disdain for all the characters. I felt no sympathy or anger or anything – my reactions were more like “Huh.” and then I read on. There is really nothing admirable about any of the characters!

I do admit, however, that Fitzgerald’s writing style is lovely. The descriptions and what he evokes from an atmosphere is definitely “poetic” as all critics seem to say. Some of it is really quite beautiful and as an Arts in Communications: Writing and Cultural Studies student, I have to admit…I’m jealous.

But that in itself does not carry the story forward.

Perhaps what is also frustrating is that the narrator Nick Carraway is so much of a narrator, an observer, in this story that he rarely takes action. He does not “drive” the story in a sense. As such, you feel like he is rather meandering around what is happening. And you never feel invested in anything that he does and feels (e.g. his relationship with Jordan). And since the entire story is narrated by him, you cannot help but feel detached from everything that happens.

Nonetheless, it’s a short and easy book to read.

Anyone else have any thoughts on this text?

6 comments for “Text Review: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

  1. Kym
    December 11, 2009 at 4:13 pm

    I studied this text for English Extension in Year 11. And I agree with your comments…the characters don’t appeal to me either.

    P.S. I have a study guide for The Great Gatsby. Does anyone want to purchase it? :)

  2. James
    December 12, 2009 at 5:35 pm

    Gatsby, the 09 movie!

  3. December 27, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    I can see where you’re coming from, as I didn’t like the book at all on my first read. I happened to return to it years later and loved it.

    The characters aren’t supposed to be likable, as the story is in a large part a cautionary tale. I do agree that Fitzgerald is a great writer.

    Just something to keep in mind. Maybe revisit it later on? Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this!

    • tutortales
      January 18, 2010 at 10:42 pm

      I think I will try and revisit it. Even now, as I read more about the book and study it…it seems better – possibly because I know why Fitzgerald is constructing his characters as he does. Thanks!

      TT

  4. rin
    January 19, 2010 at 11:16 am

    i agree with this post, I had to read The Great Gatsby for English during these holidays and it felt as if the author was trying to build a really shocking ending that just ended up being …meh. maybe its because we are all a little jaded these days. Also, I agree with the characters, they just seemed really removed and werent all that interesting.

    • tutortales
      January 19, 2010 at 9:42 pm

      Hopefully it improves upon re-reading. I also find that I ‘appreciate’ it more later….as a novel with historical/contextual significance, rather than a novel that is actually enjoyable. That is, I guess, why TGG is in the Texts in Time module…

      TT

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