The Great Gatsby

This morning I finished reading

of which the above is the title page and the frontispiece;

and next the front boards and spine.

Tim Andrews has provided a knowledgeable and insightful introduction in which he states that ‘Fitzgerald’s fascination with the very rich and his concern with their corruptive and destructive power had been treated earlier in his fantasy, ‘The Diamond as Big as the Ritz’ ‘

As usual, I will refrain from giving away any of the story, save to say that it relates a truly terrible tragedy in the Shakespearian sense – the result of harbouring a long term dream.

The spare, elegant, lines of the illustrator reflect those of the writer, who wastes no words in which every noun, adjective, and adverb carries maximum weight and the narrative races along with the rhythm of the hedonistic Jazz Age of the 1920s, in the wake of the First World War.

Fitzgerald may well identify with his narrator, but he has no love for the profligate culture of the privileged rich who live for pleasure and exploitation. People of doubtful morals don’t seem to really care for others, despite their propensity for affairs.

We are kept engaged from the opening sentences, through the shocking surprise, to the carefully controlled closure.

Widely regarded as the author’s masterpiece I have no quibble with that, although I have not read much more of his work which is said to be variable.


  1. Love the drawings. Not trying to be a nit picker, but this does not compute for me “rhythm of the hedonistic Jazz Age of the 1920s, in the wake of the Second World War” Did you mean First World War?

  2. One of my favorite novels. The beauty of the writing combined with the sweep and tragedy of the story make it a nearly perfect novel. I don’t know if it’s because I’m American, but the conclusion always brings tears to my eyes. I’ve read “Tender is the Night” and some of his short stories. To my way of thinking “The Great Gatsby” stands above them.

  3. Hi Derrick, If only my memory was more astute…I recall reading The Great Gatsby and enjoying it, but – with so many years having past – need to read it again! Hey ho. Also read Tender is the Night and recall even less. How sad! (It doesn’t negate the pleasure felt at the time of reading though…) Cheers.

    1. Thanks a lot, Joy. I share your memory lapses on reading. I had even forgotten I had read ‘Tender is the Night’. I eave bookmarks in to remind me πŸ™‚

  4. Try as I might – and I’ve tried more than once – I have never warmed to this book. I’ve read it but without enjoying it. The illustrations are interesting, Derrick. Not at all what I would have expected.

      1. Oh, now I must interject. I see Jane Austen as a brilliant commenter on her times. She was a woman when women were nothing. Yet she was able to write with humor about her position in the world. I think her cynicism was well placed and has much to teach us. Girls Rock Yo! lol

  5. I’ve read The Great Gatsby several times. It’s one of my favorite novels. In college, I studied it in Craft of Fiction as “the perfect novel.” There is many a fiction writer who would die happy to write an ending as good as the last paragraph of The Great Gatsby. If you read Fitzgerald’s collected short stories straight through, you can tell which ones he wrote to pay the liquor bills. (The same holds true for William Faulkner’s short stories.) However, I don’t fault either one of them for it.

  6. As soon as I saw your title I longed to read this one yet again. I have no idea of why it has such a hold on me, but it surely does. Luckily, I can read the same books dozens of times and enjoy them more and more.

  7. I read this book first as a teenager…then again in college…then again later on. πŸ™‚
    I enjoy it. A lot. πŸ™‚
    And of the two movies I’ve seen based on the book…I like the one with Robert Redford more than the one with Leonardo DiCaprio. Yes, I’ll admit it…I like to look at Robert Redford. πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜€
    These illustrations seem simple, but are so emotionally powerful…and so cool! πŸ™‚
    (((HUGS))) πŸ™‚

  8. Very insightful review, Derrick. I am not so impressed with illustrations, though, perhaps because I used to more vivid ones in my copy of excellent Russian translation.

  9. Hi Derrick – I’m glad I saw this! I have read the GG three times and each time I get something new from it. Your observations are so right. I’ve never seen an illustrated version of the book. So interesting and I like your comment about the spare elegant lines of the illustrations and how they match Fitzgerald’s writing style.

  10. One cannot go wrong with “The Great Gatsby”. I explored this novel with hundreds of pupils on and off over twenty years and never tired of it. Their reactions to the characters and the themes added layers of depth and meaning to both which in turn made the novel ever easier to explore with enthusiasm. Much of what he wrote then remains true of society of today.

    1. Thank you so much, Anne. Those pupils were lucky – that must have been a fascinating and rewarding exercise for you all. I agree about its application today

  11. I never read the book, but I remember taking my mum to see the film, but for some reason, I can’t remember a single thing about it!

  12. Hi – I enjoy your succinct summaries or reflections – your years and years of reading and pondering has led to such dense and succinct and what seems like easy intelligent summation from you !
    Like this
    “We are kept engaged from the opening sentences, through the shocking surprise, to the carefully controlled closure.”

    Oh and now that you mention it – I have not read much else from this author either – hmmmm

  13. This book and several others, written by Fitzgerald , are Classics in my opinion. Sometimes, some of his work appears a little dry. But The Great Gatsby held my interest, as well as This Side Of Paradise. As a teenager I had read an English Classic, titled “East Lynn” by Ellen Wood. While there is not much of resemblance or similarities, I think of this book when I read The Great Gatsby. Yes, I have read it more than once.

  14. I’m sure I read ‘Gatsby’ when I was much younger. Vague recollections of a movie with Robert Redford and Mia Farrow, which I think made me feel a little uncomfortable. I’m probably confused…

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