Men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars – F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Ever since I saw the glitter and sparkle that The Great Gatsby, the film, created, I have always wanted to read the masterpiece created by F. Scott Fitzgerald. There is something about the twenties that is mesmerising and addictive: it’s all one big party – for those who could afford it – with champagne coming out of fountains and parties from dusk ’til dawn. It’s the lifestyle that a lot of people think they would love to have in their twenties and thirties. I know I love a good night of partying until the sun has risen and it’s suddenly a brand new day.
I finally picked up The Great Gatsby, the novel, just before I travelled to Verona last month. I have had this book on my bookshelf for about five years, no lie. When it comes to classics, I really want to have read them, but they always get shoved to the back of my reading list because I find that contemporary fiction interests me a lot more. However, I picked it up and I read it; it did take me longer than it should have.
If you don’t know the tale, it is written in the voice of Nick Carraway, a fine young man from Chicago who moves to Long Island. His next door neighbour is the infamous Jay Gatsby who nobody knows much about apart from the stories people tell about them. These stories are fiction on the most part, told in wonder and admiration of a man who has no concrete background; a mesmerising man, a man with a life everyone wants. I guess you could compare it to the world of influencers we live in. We never know exactly what’s happening behind closed doors, only the snippets of life they share, the life we want. In reality, is it everything that we would want? Or, is it simply a visage that we have created in our own heads about their life, like the acquaintances of Jay Gatsby. The lavish lifestyle is one of those things that is always a touch of luxury, but when it comes down to Gatsby’s most important moments, who is actually there to comfort and console him? Where are all of the people who crowd his mansion each evening? It is as though he had a role to play, and he fulfilled it. It does not matter what happens to the man, Jay, only what happens to the persona, Gatsby.
It is an intriguing story with quite a lot of heartbreak and trauma for a backdrop which consisted of driving fast cars, knowing who’s who and attending the best party on any night of the week. There are scandals, obsession and a nature in which every man is out for themselves, and only themselves. There is an element of cruelty that stands out from a couple of characters: one you expect it from, and one you think would be the least cruel of them all.
For a novel that promises – and delivers – glitz and glamour, there is an underlayer of tension which reflects the society of 1920s America. The Jazz Age was not all it was hoped to be, and I can’t help but wonder why, in fact, we all want the roaring twenties to re-emerge once more.
Is The Great Gatsby on your bookshelf? What are your thoughts on it?
Love, Faye xo