The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

This ultra-modernist tale of jazz age America from 1925 is much in the glare of publicity at the moment (May 2013) due to the release of another Hollywood film version (, this time with Leonardo diCaprio as Jay. F Scott Fitzgerald’s ( and famous work regularly tops polls of ‘best American novel ever written’ or even ‘best novel of the twentieth century’. There are many reasons to give this one a go.

Firstly, it is short. This has some appeal in our madly stressed lives. Secondly, there’s the glamour. It’s 1922 and New York is an electric hotbed of jazz and scandal. The playground of the super-rich and the new home of Nick Callaway, a Mid-Western man chasing his American dream. For eighty dollars a month, Callaway finds himself the unlikely neighbour of his beautiful cousin Daisy Buchannan and a mysterious millionaire – Jay Gatsby. From the shadow of Gatsby’s mansion, Callaway is drawn into the glittering, captivating world of the wealthy – their parties, their love affairs, and their lies. And as he watches his new friends, he writes their story.

A tale of roaring excess, impossible love and their devastating, tragic consequences. Not much more detail can be revealed without spoiling the plot. One thing to expect, though, is a kind of double vision induced in the reader (by means of the narrator Nick Callaway). On the one hand there is a fascination for the glamour, privilege, success and sheer lavishness of those parties. It is temptation. On the other is a sure revulsion toward the triviality and vacuity at the heart of it all. That is a tension which may lurk at the heart of us all. Will this be your reaction? Beyond all that, though, is the sheer quality of the prose which exhibits marvellous turns of phrase and the ability to convey a great deal in a compact sentence.

If your appetite for the work of Scott Fitzgerald is whetted go to Glenday, Michael K. (2012), F. Scott Fitzgerald, London and New York: Palgrave Macmillan (

Continue with The Cambridge Introduction to F. Scott Fitzgerald (2007) by Kirk Curnutt (

Proceed to The Cambridge Companion to F. Scott Fitzgerald (2001) edited by Ruth Prigozy  (

Incidentally, Francis Ford Coppola wrote the screenplay for a 1974 film version starring Robert Redford as Jay and Mia Farrow as Daisy ( Available on DVD at

80 pages in Atlantic Publishing

ISBN 978-1909242067

F. Scott Fitzgerald

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