I work in a great office. We are all quite technical (1/3 of us have maths degrees and most of the rest have some kind of engineering), but also geeky and very into books. Books are passed around with a recommendation on a regular basis and its perfectly acceptable to have new boxes of books delivered there.
The Great Gatsby was one such book. I’m the third person in our office to read this copy. It came with no more description than “one of my favourite books” so, like a good book borrower, I accepted it then put it in the tbr pile for a good few weeks (it also came with a no hurry to return statement). Yesterday I finally got around to picking it up, and this morning it was finished.
It is a beautifully written book, full of foreshadowing and metaphor to the extent that I feel almost inspired to write an English literature essay on it. Beyond that it is also a book of its time, setting a scene of life for privileged upper class Americans on the east coast in the twenties. There is acceptance that this is their place in the world, unthinking use of the less well-off and excess.
Prohibition is mentioned breifly, but does not remotely limit the drinking and excesses. Instead it is used to put down those whose illegal activities enable life to continue.
The novel opens with the narrator introducing himself directly, and explaining why he finds out all of these things. Then he fades away, and becomes pretty much inconsequential aside from as a pawn to enable events to pivot. Instead he is simply a blank slate for the reader to project themselves into. We know how he is connected to key characters, but about him as a person, despite viewing everything through his snarky viewpoint.
Gatsby himself is a wonderful classic character. I am loath to explain further due to not wanting to spoil the novel, but his behaviour and reaction to his position is fabulous.
I read the Penguin Modern Classics edition. It is not worth reading for the introduction, which I gave up on after 6 pages because I haven’t read the book this is apparently a new take on. I sort of expected the introduction to give more of a sense of place and time, and literary devices, rather than a comparison to a book few of the readers will know.