If you've watched any television the past few weeks or spent more than a few minutes on the internet, It's a good bet that you've been exposed to the soon-to-be-released mega-blockbuster movie, The Great Gatsby, starring Leonardo DeCaprio as Jay Gatsby. I certainly don't want to spoil the movie for you so I won't add any spoiler information here but, suffice it to say, the book on which this movie is based could be considered the definitive Great American Novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald's writing is perfectly fluid throughout where his beautiful prose and thought provoking poetic moments have you wishing you could have written just about every one of his graceful lines penned during the American Jazz Age.
There's one part of the book I wanted to point out that is emblematic of this wonderful writing. In the Chapter 9 ending section, Fitzgerald describes through his book's narrator, Nick Carroway, who in the movie version is played by Toby Maguire, what Manhattan Island in New York City must have looked like upon the first Dutch settlers' arrival to the great island using this as a metaphor to sum up the entire novel. This is truly writing at its best.
This book though far shorter in length than some of these other novels can be arguably put in the same conversation with Flaubert's Madame Bovary, Eliot's Middlemarch, Hemingway's For Whom The Bell Tolls and Tolstoy's War and Peace.
Here's the 4 paragraphs from The Great Gatsby I mentioned:
Most of the big shore places were closed now and there were hardly any lights except the shadowy, moving glow of a ferryboat across the Sound. And as the moon rose higher the inessential houses began to melt away until gradually I became aware of the old island here that flowered once for Dutch sailors’ eyes — a fresh, green breast of the new world.
Its vanished trees, the trees that had made way for Gatsby’s house, had once pandered in whispers to the last and greatest of all human dreams; for a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an aesthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder.
And as I sat there brooding on the old, unknown world, I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn, and 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, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night.
Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter — to-morrow 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.
Now, isn't that something?!?
My post today is simply meant as a response to all the hype surrounding the movie version of The Great Gatsby in an effort to encourage you all to also consider reading the book. You won't be sorry!