Gatsby Q#3: About Fitzgerald

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Gatsby Q#3: About Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald wrote, "You don't write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say." What did he have to say in Gatsby?

Fitzgerald scholar Matthew J. Bruccoli claims: "The Great Gatsby does not proclaim the nobility of the human spirit; it is not politically correct; it does not reveal how to solve the problems of life; it delivers no fashionable or comforting messages. It is just a masterpiece." Do you agree?

Well I disagree with the word "masterpiece". Books, films, artists become famous without any real merit sometimes. In Gatsby he doesn't seems to be saying anything other than than this was the behaviour of certain individuals in certain classes at that particular time. To be a "masterpiece" surely the item in question has to be a brilliant piece of work. It has to have the power to affect you, to bring you in and make you want to stay.

Two difficult questions Marisa!!

I don't think he said much at all - he has painted a graphic portrait of excess and selfishness among the rich of that era, probably based on the parties he was attending himself. I guess you can read things into it - money does not buy happiness, love is the one thing worth striving for, hang on to your dreams before they become dust - who knows? But I think these are my takes on the texts rather than his message. For me, there was not a strong enough thread to definitely say there was a deliberate "message" in it. The overall picture is rather depressing - marriages fail, love is false, money is inherited or ill-gotten, lives are covered in a tissue of lies, people are striving to present a good image regardless of what morals and deceits lie underneath and, of course, murder is forgivable. I hope it is an exagerated picture!

Is the novel a masterpiece? No, not for me. Mr Bruccoli was correct in his first statement and I agree that Fitzgerald was a very talented writer but lacking in ideas, the novel as a whole lacked substance and though the characters are perhaps memorable the plot and details are not. I have to say again that I do not really understand the attention given to this novel. I agree with Angela - the plot failed to engage me. On the other hand, it has been around over 80 years and sells very well every year and I'm sure not all the readers are students being forced to read it on school curriculums so, in that respect, it must at least be "a classic"?

I am glad I have read it but I would not want to read it again and that kind of says it all for me.

Have any of you watched the recent movie? I feel like that has given me a much more favorable impression than I had before of just the novel. And it's still hanging on now, perhaps it showed the book in a new light. I'm trying to put my finger on what it is exactly, but I think overall the movie was much more hopeful and the character of Gatsby really came alive. And I would say that the Gatsby in the movie was great. He just seemed more innocent and truly hopeful about his love for Daisy. Like his love for her and his dream of her made him great.

I'd be interested if anyone else has seen the new movie, if it changes your mind at all.

I saw the movie when it came out on DVD a few months ago and liked the movie in general; it was definitely better than the book I think. Seeing them all portrayed on screen was easier to digest than the book, if that makes sense.

I haven't seen it yet but after reading it I kind of expected that Hollywood would have to soften it somehow. There is little in the book that convinces me Gatsby loved Daisy - he barely knew her! I'll be interested to see how they make him at all "innocent" with his social climbing, fabricated history, lies and dodgy dealings smiley

I went and saw the movie at the theater, but I was just as drawn to the Baz Luhrmann name as much as the movie. I was expecting even more excess, and I guess choreography, based on the previous Luhrmann films I've seen and the theatricality of them all. I enjoyed it, and even my husband enjoyed it (which is saying something), but I didn't LOVE it as much as I thought I would based on the previews and the pre-release hype.
I did think the casting of Leonardo DiCaprio was spot on. He just has that ability to portray a loveable scoundrel so convincingly.

I will say this is one of the few movies I preferred to the book. The Help is another one, but that's a different story...

As for what Fitzgerald had to say, I think we have to look back at the time at which the book was published and what he would be trying to say then. It obviously doesn't translate well to current day based on all the feedback, but I think this book was probably that time's (1925) reality TV. He's writing a story about the excesses of the rich and he's not praising it, and he actually ridiculing the motives and the motivation of the characters and showing that even though these people have the means to "have" everything, they never actually will because stuff isn't everything.
What is it they say, "money can't buy you class"?
At that time in the US there was an even wider income disparity than there is today, so there were these few "haves" that were going around flaunting what they've got while everyone else was working to get their meager share. The "have nots" could still afford a buck or whatever to buy the magazine or paperback that this was published in and they could see the inner workings of the "haves" and be as disgusted with them as we are. (Similar to how I feel watching the Kardashians on TV. It's a freakin' train wreck!)

The story itself isn't epic. It's so short, he doesn't have much time to flesh out all of the characters. And there's that whole problem that we hate all of the characters. Fitzgerald does have an amazing turn of phrase though. There were multiple times in the book where I thought "gosh, I wish I could explain a thought like that."
I think that's why the book is considered a masterpiece, because of his writing, not because of the story.

I'm not sure that I could elaborate more than others already have. I totally agree with everyone, and they have said it better than I would have. I would like to see if the movie makes the book more palatable for me. It will be an interesting comparison and contrast, I think!

I was too long away no, so now I can just join and agree to the things said before. But thanks for sharing opinions, it's a great thread!