莫晓彤

The Book Review On The Great G

莫晓彤

“F. Scott Fitzgerald,a genius with superb art of writing,is one of my favorite American writers.His works have a strong sense of era features with a coherent narrative thread,colorful style and elegant words.”The well-known Chinese writer Eileen Chang was unstinting in her praise on Fitzgerald(September 24, 1896 – December 21, 1940), one of the greatest American novelists and short story writers of the 20th century,as well as his extraordinary works.Among the four novels finished by him,The Great Gatsby(1925) is his best known works,which obtains worldwide acclaim and exerts profound influence on a number of inspired outstanding masters in literature,such as Ernest Miller Hemingway and Murakami Haruki.Generally accepted,it is a paradigmatic description of the Coolidge property at 1920,as it thoroughly revealed and satirized that corrupt

money-worshiping society at that time. In 1998, the Modern Libraryeditorial board voted it the 20th century's best American novel and second best English-language novel of the same time period.❶ The Great Gatsby is a highly

symbolic meditation on  1920s  America as a whole, in particular the disintegration of the American dream in an era of unprecedented prosperity and material excess.

The reason why he could successfully reveal the indifference,voracity and corruption in upper class is associated with his own experience.Regarded as the representative of the lost generation,Fitzgerald pursued a sybaritic life and always did something ridiculous with his wife Zelda.Actually,he was born barren and did not live in abundance before his revised novel,This Side of Paradise(1920), was accepted and published by Scribner's and became an instant success, selling 41,075 copies in the first year.Achieve a great success.❷ It launched Fitzgerald's career as a writer and provided a steady income for him who gradually became a complete spendthrift.Nevertheless,because only his first novel sold well enough to support the opulent lifestyle that he and Zelda adopted as New York celebrities,he was constantly confronted with financial trouble.Meanwhile,to be regretted,The Great Gatsby, now considered to be his masterpiece, did not gain wide acceptance after Fitzgerald's death.During the period of creating this great work,Fitzgerald met his low point under the pressure of increasing bills for Zelda's medical care as well as their daughter’s education and decreasing incomes.In 1929 the United States and even all over the world was trapped into a great depression,the golden age which belonged to Fitzgerald also gone.The only way for him to escape from reality was indulging in alcohol,and thus he suffered from severe heart attack which directly leaded to his death of an early age of 44 in 1940.As a consequence,This Side of Paradise opened the gate for his gorgeous career as a writer,but The Great Gatsby played the role as a turning point of his life that he fell from heaven to hell.Most ridiculously,it was his masterpiece that accompanied him in poverty instead of fame and interest which he deserved,with The Great Gatsby published.

Though The Great Gatsby has been buried at ash for more than 60 years before it eventually won people’s appreciation,we were still obsessed with the magic charms of this great works.The main events of the novel come up in the summer of 1922. The narrator Nick Carraway, a Yale graduate and World War I veteran from the Midwest,takes a bond salesman job in New York and lives next door to the lavish mansion of Jay Gatsby.Gatsby,a mysterious millionaire,constantly holds extravagant parties but never participates in them.His identity is disguised and shrouded in darkness.Another main character is Nick’s cousin Daisy Fay Buchanan who married a man born in purple named Tom.However,Gatsby,meeting Daisy from a romantic encounter,has been deeply in love with her since 1917 and they broke up because Daisy failed to wait for the poor Gatsby who participated in World War I at that time.He firmly believes that Daisy never forgets him and her love towards him never decreases.The sorrow and hope gradually accumulate in his heart.For the sake of raising Daisy’s attention and rekindling their lost romance,Gatsby bought a mansion where he holds lavish parties almost every night but he only stares at the green light at the end of her dock across the bay from Daisy’s home. As a matter of fact, Daisy does also suffer from her husband’s infidelity but she has no desire to leave her husband until the rich Gatsby came to her life again.To help Gatsby realize his cherish dream,Nick invites Daisy to have tea at his house without telling her that Gatsby will be there waiting for her.After an initially awkward reunion, Gatsby and Daisy reestablish their connection.They begin an affair and decide to announce their relationship to Tom.Frightened and trembling,Daisy is on the horns of a dilemma and try to escape from the bitter quarrel when they,a group of people,are having dinner together.Therefore,when her husband revealed that Gatsby made a great fortune overnight from illegal means like bootlegging alcohol,Daisy is about to break down under great tension and realizes that her allegiance was to Tom instead of Gatsby.The plot goes toward the climax during the bout between Gatsby and Tom.After the argument,when Nick, Jordan, and Tom drive through the valley of ashes on their way home, they discover that Gatsby's car has struck and killed Tom's mistress, Myrtle. Nick later learns from Gatsby that it was Daisy who was driving the car at the time of the accident instead of Gatsby himself but Gatsby intends to take the blame anyway. Myrtle's husband, George, falsely concludes that the driver of the yellow car is the secret lover that he recently began suspecting she has  and sets out on foot to locate its owner. Finding out the owner of yellow car is Gatsby,he arrives at Gatsby's mansion where he fatally shoots Gatsby and then commits suicide.With nobody willing to attend,Nick stages an small funeral for Gatsby.Getting tired of the extravagant life in New York as the witness of the virtual mood of human reality.Nike moves back to the Midwest,disillusioning with the Eastern lifestyle.

"We are all in the gutters, but some of us are looking at the stars"❸ "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.So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."Gatsby’s beautiful dream on love acts like a read line throughout the story.Moreover,the love story actually is a representation of social state,fame and interest.Therefore,this great work is inevitably placed a higher value by literary critics with its intense and distinctive characteristics of the times.The masterpiece does not directly disclosed the reason why Gatsby is considered as “great”,but it is universally confirmed as follows.Daisy and Tom belong to nobility and gentry, completely assimilate to money worship, but extremely exclude and disdain to the upstarts.Kept in the dark,Gatsby is unaware of the truth and dominated by the pursuit of wealth.As a consequence,who Gatsby was thirsty for is the visionary “ideal girl” Daisy.Even if he has accumulated vast wealth,he still can not escape from the loneliness and bitterness of spirit.Gatsby's dream is a typical "American dream".His struggling reflects the American spirit of respecting the tough period, independent spirit and upward state and oppositely his failure is on the behalf of spiritual decadence and recession postwar.Just as Americans have given America meaning through their dreams for their own lives, Gatsby instills Daisy with a kind of idealized perfection that she neither deserves nor possesses Gatsby’s dream is ruined by the unworthiness of its object, just as the American dream in the1920s is ruined by the unworthiness of its object--money and pleasure.The material civilization and prosperity make people's hearts distort.What hidden under the appearance of enjoying carnival is massive spiritual emptiness and confusion.At that time Gatsby reaches the pinnacle of state through his own efforts in such an environment,compared with the rich who gain the wealth by inheriting from the previous generation.Moreover, Gatsby obtains his wealth not for fame,wealth, rights, or enjoy, but for love,which ensures his spiritual state.Thirdly,when the business people with hypocrisy are visible across the city,Gatsby,a kind and upright gentleman,has an elegant taste and sense of humor.Nick views

Gatsby as a deeply flawed man,dishonest and vulgar, whose extraordinary optimism and power to transform his 

dreams into reality make him “great” nonetheless.As to Fitzgerald,such a gentleman like Gatsby is worthwhile to be considered as the great one.When Nick meets Gatsby at first sight,he regards him as a extraordinary man as follows:“He smiled understandingly—much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced—or seemed to face—the whole external world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just so far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey. Precisely at that point it vanished—and I was looking at an elegant young rough-neck, a year or two over thirty, whose elaborate formality of speech just missed being absurd. Some time before he introduced himself I’d got a strong impression that he was picking his words with care.”❹

”It was an age of miracles, it was an age of art, it was an age of excess, and it was an age of satire.”❺Because Fitzgerald himself enthusiastically engages into the era of flashing lights, he keenly feels the desire for romance in that age,both on the surface of the emptiness and helplessness behind the luxurious,which is vividly reflected in his works.In addition,the subtle relationships between the young who pay frequent visit to country clubs and luxury mansions are the eternal themes.What they are always chasing for is money.But frustration and disappointment are everywhere and can never be dispersed by money.Meantime,aspirations and ideals are also the themes, because he considers it as the American characteristic.His dramatic story often involves the feelings of fickle and loss, because this is the inevitable fate of those who lives at that period.Those are the feature of the times which Fitzgerald lives in.It is an era that showiness and fashion dominated as World War I had just ended in 1918 when millions of people were immolated.Suffered from world crisis,people need comfort to heal their wound and forget their miserable memories after a bereavement.Nevertheless,as the economy society go forward and flourish,it came to the Roaring Twenties period,a term for the 1920s in the Western world. It was a period of sustained economic prosperity with a distinctive cultural edge in theUnited States, Canada, and Western Europe, particularly in major cities such as New York, Montreal, Chicago, Detroit, Paris, Berlin, London, and Los Angeles. ❻The Roaring Twenties was a decade of great economic growth and widespread prosperity driven by recovery from wartime devastation and postponed spending, a boom in construction, and the rapid growth of consumer goods such as automobiles and electricity. The economy of the United States, which had successfully transitioned from a wartime economy to a peacetime economy, boomed and provided loans for an European boom as well. However, some sectors were stagnant, especially farming and mining. The United States became the richest country in the world, augmented its status as the most miraculous economy, its industry aligned to mass production, and its society acculturated into consumerism. European economies had a more difficult readjustment and began to flourish about 1924.❼Despite the economy prosperity,the Roaring Twenties was a period of literary creativity, and works of several notable authors appeared during the period.The Great Gatsby written by F. Scott Fitzgerald,the representative of “The Lost Generation”, set up in 1922 in the vicinity of New York City, was often described as the symbolic meditation on the "Jazz Age" in American literature. The rich wore elaborately and brightly colored,totally got immersed in the fancy life and led a  self-indulgent life.At that time,hedonism and materialism are the mainstream of social morality.On one hand,the rich indulged the myth that the fabulous wealth generated by the rapid pace of economic prosperity.Turning rich rapidly, the upstarts failed to master appropriate methods to manage their money but tend to show off fortune through dazzling material consumption.On the other hand,the populace desire the extravagant life style and aspired to the life associated with  a waterfront mansion in a gated golf community.No matter which class they belonged to,the pursuit of pleasure as the only belief burning deeply inside their souls are the eternal theme.Proven by the course of human history,wealth and power lead to affluence and luxury,when affluence and luxury lead to decadence, corruption and decline.Naturally,citizens convivial to a fault sated with such wealth and therefore only the minority of them noticed the approaching footsteps of decline.Fitzgerald is one of the eminent prophets who predicts that the United States will meet"the world wild text"in several years.Although what impresses readers most is the luxury and flashy atmosphere of the time,Fitzgerald still emphasizes the corruption as well as the potential problem exposed by extravagance--wine bootlegging,rampant gangs,the negative consequences of industrialization and urbanization,money worship, materialism and hedonism.Fitzgerald portrays the 1920s as an era of decayed social and moral values, evidenced in its overarching cynicism, greed, and empty pursuit of pleasure.Actually,his inopportune written style is the culprit cause him fell out of the favor of readers.He wrote the novel in 1925,when the United State is extremely prosperous.The contemporary American novelist and story-teller Garrison Keillor ever said that one reads books in order to gain the privilege of living more than one life.❽There is no doubt that this kind of depression is widely divergent to the general atmosphere of praising hedonism and lead to the failure of novels after publishing to some extent when readers can not obtain the hedonism as they expect.

During the period of reading this great work for two months,ups and downs of the plot,the gorgeous words and the soft but powerful rhetorical device have never failed to fascinate me.Not only is the intricate but intriguing relationship between the characters full of praise,but also the flowery language makes a legion of admirers immerse.

Penetrating,vitality and accuracy are the estimate that even the harshest critics will give to The Great Gatsby. Before Fitzgerald had started to write his masterpiece,he told the editor Maxwell Perkins that he wanted to write a novel with strict and elegant sentences.From my perspective,the extensive use of adjective reflects Fitzgerald’s the superb writing skills.The process of exploring his language characteristics will not only help us understand the charm of this masterpiece,but also promote our writing skills on detailed portrait.

The extensive use of adjective in the description of the scene and the characters in The Great Gatsby reflects the extravagant social environment and the rapid pace of life.Take the following paragraph as an example:“The lights grow brighter as the earth lurches away from the sun and now the orchestra is playing yellow cocktail music and the opera of voices pitches a key higher. Laughter is easier, minute by minute, spilled with prodigality, tipped out at a cheerful word.The groups change more swiftly,swell with new arrivals,dissolve and form in the same breath—already there are wanderers, confident girls who weave here and there among the stouter and more stable, become for a sharp, joyous moment the center of a group and then excited with triumph glide on through the sea-change of faces and voices and color under the constantly changing light.”❾He visualizes the intoxicating music,endowing it with the fragrance of yellow cocktail.There are two “change” and one “sea-change” in this short paragraph.The repetition actually contains irony and metaphor.The constantly changing suggests that people are indifferent and merciless.They smell the fragrance of passion and enter this mansion,once the passionate party disappears,they will also rush to the next party.The frequent exquisite arrangements of simile are the distinctive features of his words.Numerous and complex adjective makes the language of novel colorful and gorgeous, embodies an authentic and dazzling United States society,reflects the outstanding talent of "laureate poet" Fitzgerald.

Numerous people start to read this book just for Murakami Haruki’s highly recommend towards The Great Gatsby:“As a novelist, I regard it as a standard, a ruler,and a sign of my position.”As far as I am concerned,The Great Gatsby provides me a new perspective towards the world as it contains the truth of life.

Reference:

[1]"100 Best Novels". Modern Library. Retrieved 14 May 2014

[2]Jean Wyrick(2008) Steps to Writing Well(Tenth Edition).p.465.[3]Bruccoli, ed. by Matthew J. (1999). New essays on "The great Gatsby" (Repr. ed.). Cambridge [u.a.]: Cambridge Univ. Press.

[4]“He smiled...with care.”F. Scott Fitzgerald.The Great Gatsby.Chapter 3.

[5] "We are all in the gutters, but some of us are looking at the stars"Oscar Wilde.

[6]"He had come a long way... into the past."F. Scott Fitzgerald. The Great Gatsby. Chapter 9.

[7]Paul N. Hehn (2005). A Low Dishonest Decade: The Great Powers, Eastern Europe, And the Economic Origins of World War II, 1930–1941. Continuum. p. 12.

[8]George H. Soule, Prosperity Decade: From War to Depression: 1917–1929(1947)

[9]"The lights grow brighter...the constantly changing light.F. Scott Fitzgerald. The Great Gatsby. Chapter 9.

2016-01-10
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