Did You Know?
F. Scott Fitzgerald began working on this concept in 1923, but discarded much of his earlier material, which made its way into one of his short stories. Also, even though Gatsby is considered to be a quintessential American story, Fitzgerald wrote it while he was living in France.
Baz Luhrmann's opulent outing in last summer's The Great Gatsby
is probably the only interaction that most youngsters had with this literary classic. While the merits of the movie can be dissected another day, the real hero of this story remains Fitzgerald's unfettered and sublime prose. Delicate, heart-wrenching, and vividly honest to the core, the narrative of the novel is its soul. Fitzgerald weaved a wonderful tale of heartbreak against the backdrop of the Roaring Twenties―a time when priorities bent towards the practical, and wealth always scored over love.
The novel's narrator, Nick Carraway is a young man from Minnesota goes to New York to build his life, after being educated at Yale and fighting in World War I. Nick is Daisy Buchanan's cousin, and is instrumental in rekindling the romance between her and Jay Gatsby. The Great Gatsby is told entirely through Nick's eyes; his thoughts and perceptions mold and paint the story.
Quotes from The Great Gatsby
"I am still a little afraid of missing something if I forget that, as my father snobbishly suggested, and I snobbishly repeat, a sense of the fundamental decencies is parceled out unequally at birth."
"When I came back from the East last autumn I felt that I wanted the world to be in uniform and at a sort of moral attention forever; I wanted no more riotous excursions with privileged glimpses into the human heart. Only Gatsby, the man who gives his name to this book, was exempt from my reaction―Gatsby, who represented everything for which I have an unaffected scorn."
"He hadn't once ceased looking at Daisy, and I think he revalued everything in his house according to the measure of response it drew from her well-loved eyes. Sometimes, too, he stared around at his possessions in a dazed way, as though in her actual and astounding presence none of it was any longer real. Once he nearly toppled down a flight of stairs."
"And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer."
"There are only the pursued, the pursuing, the busy, and the tired."
"I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life."
"In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since.
"Whenever you feel like criticizing any one," he told me, "just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had."
"It's a great advantage not to drink among hard drinking people. You can hold your tongue, and, moreover, you can time any little irregularity of your own so that everybody else is so blind that they don't see or care."
"So we drove on toward death through the cooling twilight."
"His heart beat faster and faster as Daisy's white face came up to his own. He knew that when he kissed this girl, and forever wed his unutterable visions to her perishable breath, his mind would never romp again like the mind of God. So he waited, listening for a moment longer to the tuning-fork that had been struck upon a star. Then he kissed her. At his lips' touch she blossomed like a flower and the incarnation was complete."
"Every one suspects himself of at least one of the cardinal virtues, and this is mine: I am one of the few honest people that I have ever known."
"The exhilarating ripple of her voice was a wild tonic in the rain."
"Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter―tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther.... And one fine morning―So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."
"For a moment the last sunshine fell with romantic affection upon her glowing face; her voice compelled me forward breathlessly as I listened - then the glow faded, each light deserting her with lingering regret, like children leaving a pleasant street at dusk."
"The city seen from the Queensboro Bridge is always the city seen for the first time, in its first wild promise of all the mystery and the beauty in the world."
"His dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him."
"A stirring warmth flowed from her, as if her heart was trying to come out to you concealed in one of those breathless, thrilling words."
"They were careless people, Tom and Daisy―they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made."
"Dishonesty in a woman is a thing you never blame deeply."
"I hope she'll be a fool―that's the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool."
"Ah," she cried, "you look so cool."
Their eyes met, and they stared together at each other, alone in space. With an effort she glanced down at the table.
You always look so cool," she repeated.
"Do you ever wait for the longest day of the year and then miss it? I always wait for the longest day of the year and then miss it!"
"It makes me sad because I've never seen such―such beautiful shirts before."
"And I like large parties. They're so intimate. At small parties there isn't any privacy."
"Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall."
"They'll keep out of my way," she insisted. "It takes two to make an accident."
"Let us learn to show our friendship for a man when he is alive and not after he is dead."
The Owl-Eyed Man
"I've been drunk for about a week now, and I thought it might sober me up to sit in a library."
"And what's more, I love Daisy too. Once in a while I go off on a spree and make a fool of myself, but I always come back, and in my heart I love her all the time."
If Baz Luhrmann's Gatsby is the only one you're acquainted with, these words should have provided enough juice to reach out for Fitzgerald's original―read it and be mesmerized.