Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald
I’m going to sound like a bit of a philistine now and say that I actually saw Baz Lurhman’s film version of The Great Gatsby before I read the novel, one of the most highly regarded pieces of literature of, well, all time I think, I don’t feel good about that fact but, perversely, it may have helped me enjoy the book more.
The book as you may or may not know dates back to 1925 and is set in that time period. The ‘Jazz’ age, or the ‘roaring Twenties’. It’s not a big novel, it’s barely 200 pages long, but it is an enjoyable one nonetheless. Fitzgerald was supposedly inspired to write it because of all the parties he had attended in this time. Amazingly, by the time the author died in 1940 the book was all but forgotten. It was only during the war that interested revived in it and saw it become the treasured work that it has.
The characters in the book are all rich, well-to-do types who, quite frankly, aren’t particularly nice. The narrator, Nick Carraway is the only beacon of hope in a sea of decadence. I don’t know how I would have felt about the book if I hadn’t had a base knowledge from watching the film. Despite the over the top nature of Lurhmans film, it is still fairly faithful to the source material, so I had a good feel for the characters when I read the book. I have a feeling the book would have drawn me in regardless because, well, a classic is a classic isn’t it.
Despite the fact it is nearly ninety years old The Great Gatsby doesn’t sound dated, and has lost none of it’s verve at all. Maybe that’s because the period it is set in is enjoying a renaissance itself, with the film version and TV drama’s such as Boardwalk Empire, but the way it was written still seemed thoroughly contemporary.
It’s almost impossible to score this book less than full marks, whether you love it or not. I mean, I don’t do Shakespeare but if I reviewed Hamlet I could hardly knock the score down because of that! Some things are just above ratings!