This American classic by the rich voice of F. Scott Fitzgerald was made into a 2013 movie starring Leonard DiCaprio. It was the presence of this story in the media, combined with the serendipity of the seeing the book on the shelf at the library, that encouraged me to read it. I understood, by the end of the first few pages, why this is touted as canonic and Fitzgerald’s finest piece: the language is breathtaking. This beauty runs throughout the novel, a lovely play with words.Take the oft quoted closing sentence as an example. IT is by far my favourite line from literature.
“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
Many people have written interpretative essays about this book; no doubt brighter people than me but I have read that some call it a cautionary tale of the American dream, a tale of angst and turmoil analogous to America in the 20s, when this novel takes place.
Other critics have drawn parallels to Fitzgerald’s own life bringing him in line with the book’s narrator.
These ideas seem both important and immaterial to me – I think I loved this novel because it was a breathtaking example of good literature. Not only of the poetic, and humerous irreverent way Fitzgerald spun his prose, but for the plot that reveals the flaws and holes in people the way we are all just longing for something else, something idyllic, something in some ways that can never actually be. You might call the ending pessimistic and yet there is a great deal of hope in being drawn back to the past but with the experience, and insight of the present.