BOOK REVIEW – THE GREAT GATSBY

gatsby

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!

5 books

 

About thomasjford

I like Movies and Music and most things popular culture.

15 comments

  1. So pleased you enjoyed it. I haven’t watched the Baz Luhrmann version yet but it should be visually spectacular if nothing else!

    • I really liked it, but a lot of people weren’t big on it. Maybe because I hadn’t read the book before hand it had no opportunity to shatter my dreams!

  2. I’m so glad you didn’t let that travesty of a film spoil the book for you. I taught “The Great Gatsby: for 23 years in English classes and always found something new every time. The Gatsby character is the last of the courtly lovers, one who sacrifices everything for the woman he loves. It is difficult for me to accept any of the actors who have played him because it is an elusive character and very personal to each individual’s concept of him. For instance, the only actor I could accept was the younger Bruce Boxlietner. He had the wonderful smile and also could look “as if he had killed a man.” I think the book is the great American novel. The last pages, specifically, deal with the death of the American Dream that Gatsby personifies. it is also interesting to note that the only two really “alive” characters, Gatsby and Myrtle, are killed, while the cardboard figures survive.

    • I really really liked the film! I would like to know what my views on the book would have been if I hadn’t seen it. Would I have visualised it in a different way? Thought of the characters differently? Understood it less? I have no idea, but it was great anyway!

    • You expressed many of my thoughts! I didn’t like the latest “Great Gatsby” film, but then I didn’t like the more “classic” version with Mia Farrow, either. But I checked Wikipedia and saw that it’s been adapted to film SIX times—are there any versions that you liked in particular?

      And Tom, I’m glad you liked the book so much! It’s so well-written that it’s hard to dislike it even though many of the people being described are nothing short of despicable. (I had the same reaction to “Lolita.”) There have been countless times when I’ve seen a great movie only to discover later that it was based on a book. No worries. With the rapidity & frequency with which book-to-movie adaptations get made, it’s extremely difficult to keep up.

  3. Great review, Tom! Very well done.

  4. I read the book as I knew there were rumours about a film being made. I have to say I thought the book was excellent (who wouldn’t?!) and the film portrayed the book with, for me, a feeling of grandeur. I think the only actor around today that could have portrayed Gatsby is Di Caprio- and he did so superbly.

    If you’re interested to know more on my opinion on the film I wrote a review about it some months ago 🙂 http://mikelevett.wordpress.com/2013/05/16/the-great-gatsby-2013/

  5. 🙂 I am glad that you enjoyed this. I loved the book, and I must say I loved the Luhrmann adaption (with the exception of the crappy soundtrack).

  6. I haven’t seen the original, but I did watch the new version of the film before I read the book and similarly to you, I don’t really know what I would have thought if I didn’t. Fab review, I’m glad you enjoyed it so much! I got a totally different impression of the characters from the film to the book and I didn’t think any of them were very nice in the book either, apart from Nick who I loved.

    • Yeah, I’m with you. It would be interesting to reverse time and read the book and see if you then still liked Lurhmans film or not. I like to think I would have.

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