"So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."
I think my expectations were set a little too high. Considering The Great Gatsby's iconic status as the quintessential 'American Novel' I expected something a little more, oh, I don't know...profound? Dazzling? Life changing? Instead, it left me feeling rather ambivalent. Everyone seems to be in unanimous agreement that Fitzgerald has written one of, if not, the greatest novel of the 20th century but on a personal level, it never fully registered with me. He certainly possesses a highly polished writing style that oozes sophistication and I can sort of understand why this novel has endured such notoriety for so long since it is full of rich complexity concerning class, gender and heavy on symbolism that critics seem to love for its exegesis.
The novel seems to be highly critical of the American class system and the fallacy of the "American dream" but is Fitzgerald condemning the upper class or does he feel shunned by it because he wishes to be a member of the elite? I don't know. His depiction of American society during the turbulent 1920's is vibrant with a cast of colorful characters, especially the mysterious Gatsby who represents the emergence of this new class--the self-made man, the who now stands in opposition to the aristocracy of inherited wealth. I am still uncertain as to what Fitzgerald truly intended to accomplish here and it will require several more readings to fully understand the core of this novel.
Read from April 24 to 25, 2011