The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby

THE GREAT GATSBY, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s third book, stands as the supreme achievement of his career. This exemplary novel of the Jazz Age has been acclaimed by generations of readers. The story of the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, of lavish parties on Long Island at a time when The New York Times noted “gin was the national dr...

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Title:The Great Gatsby
Author:F. Scott Fitzgerald
Rating:
ISBN:0743273567
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Paperback
Number of Pages:180 pages

The Great Gatsby Reviews

  • Jason
    Jul 09, 2007

    Most Americans are assigned to read this novel in high school. Few American high schoolers have the wherewithal to appreciate this novel in full. I certainly did not. It is on a shortlist of novels that should, every 5 years starting at age 25, return to any American's required reading list.

    First things first: The opening of The Great Gatsby -- its first 3-4 pages -- ranks among the best of any novel in the English language, and so too does its ending. Both for their content and for their prose,

    Most Americans are assigned to read this novel in high school. Few American high schoolers have the wherewithal to appreciate this novel in full. I certainly did not. It is on a shortlist of novels that should, every 5 years starting at age 25, return to any American's required reading list.

    First things first: The opening of The Great Gatsby -- its first 3-4 pages -- ranks among the best of any novel in the English language, and so too does its ending. Both for their content and for their prose, the latter of which is stunning and near perfect throughout the novel.

    As for that between the novel's opening and conclusion, two things first. (1) History is fairly clear that the term "the American Dream" did not exist at the time Fitzgerald wrote The Great Gatsby, and regardless it almost certainly did not exist in the popular consciousness. (2) Few great American novelists after Fitzgerald have not attempted to write "the great American novel". Most of these efforts are absurdly long and often tortured. The Great Gatsby, on the other hand, is relatively short, fluid, and of seemingly effortless yet pristine expression. At a point in history where Fitzgerald's express focus could hardly have been a tale regarding "the American dream" per se or the writing of "the great American novel", Fitzgerald nevertheless crafts the definitive tale of "the American Dream", as well as, his successors' endeavors aside, "the great American novel". Period.

    In not so many pages, Fitzgerald paints a brilliantly cogent picture of the potential pleasures, joys, and benefits an individual might deem achievable -- uniquely so -- in an America filled with possibilities. Paired with that picture, Fitzgerald besprinkles The Great Gatsby with the numerous pitfalls and evils that both stand as a barrier to what's imagined achievable in America, and threaten to accompany that which is achieved. Neither the quest for, nor (if possible) the achievement of, the American Dream is a thing untainted. Nor, in Fitzgerald's view, can it be.

    Fitzgerald, frankly, writes all that need be written on this subject; whatever his successors' ambitions may be. And he writes it in prose so perfect, so impressive, and so beautiful, I occasionally find myself at a loss to name a novel in the English language constructed with greater skill, and apparent ease thereof.

    In short: The Great Gatsby is an inimitable wonder of American fiction. And, for lack of a better word, an "application" of the English language that has few equals. The novel is astounding.

  • svnh
    Jul 31, 2007

    After six years of these heated and polarized debates, I'm deleting the reviews that sparked them. Thanks for sharing your frustrations, joys, and insights with me, goodreaders. Happy reading!

    In love and good faith, always,

    Savannah

  • Kemper
    Sep 22, 2007

    Jay Gatsby, you poor doomed bastard. You were ahead of your time. If you would have pulled your scam after the invention of reality TV, you would have been a huge star on a show like

    and a dozen shameless Daisy-types would have thrown themselves at you.

    Mass media and modern fame would have embraced the way you tried to push your way into a social circle you didn’t belong to in an effort to fulfill a fool’s dream as your entire existence became a lie and you desperately sought to re

    Jay Gatsby, you poor doomed bastard. You were ahead of your time. If you would have pulled your scam after the invention of reality TV, you would have been a huge star on a show like

    and a dozen shameless Daisy-types would have thrown themselves at you.

    Mass media and modern fame would have embraced the way you tried to push your way into a social circle you didn’t belong to in an effort to fulfill a fool’s dream as your entire existence became a lie and you desperately sought to rewrite history to an ending you wanted. You had a talent for it, Jay, but a modern PR expert would have made you bigger than Kate Gosselin. Your knack for self-promotion and over the top displays of wealth to try and buy respectability would have fit right in these days. I can just about see you on a red carpet with Paris Hilton.

    And the ending would have been different. No aftermath for rich folks these days. Lawyers and pay-off money would have quietly settled the matter. No harm, no foul. But then you’d have realized how worthless Daisy really was at some point. I’m sure you couldn’t have dealt with that. So maybe it is better that your story happened in the Jazz Age where you could keep your illusions intact to the bitter end.

    The greatest American novel? I don’t know if there is such an animal. But I think you'd have to include this one in the conversation.

  • Gina
    Oct 23, 2007

    Over drinks, I’ve observed—like so many smart alecks—that much of

    popularity relies heavily on its shortness. At a sparse 180 pages, Fitzgerald’s masterpiece could be argued to be the “Great American novella.”

    , like so many other short classics, is easily readable, re-readable, and assessable to everyone from the attention-deficient young to mothers juggling a kid, a career, and a long-held desire to catch up on all those books “they should have read but haven’t gotten

    Over drinks, I’ve observed—like so many smart alecks—that much of

    popularity relies heavily on its shortness. At a sparse 180 pages, Fitzgerald’s masterpiece could be argued to be the “Great American novella.”

    , like so many other short classics, is easily readable, re-readable, and assessable to everyone from the attention-deficient young to mothers juggling a kid, a career, and a long-held desire to catch up on all those books “they should have read but haven’t gotten around to yet”.

    I’ve now read

    three times, and I admit that on my first reading during (like handfuls of others) my senior year English class, I wasn’t particularly fond of the book; I believe I used the adjective “overrated” on numerous occasions. Daisy Buchanan seemed like a twit of a woman, and I found Jay Gatsby to be pathetically clawing in his attempt to attain her. Nick, my guide, only annoyed me further with his apparent hero-worshiping of a man I found one-dimensional and his adoration for the kind of woman I’ve seen other men purport to be goddesses, but in fact, are dim-witted simpletons with nice figures.

    Over my two subsequent readings—pushed along by friends whose judgment I trusted and who swore the book was “so funny and ironic”—I discovered within Fitzgerald’s fable a sardonic social wit and a heavily layered critique of the American Dream: the poor, working (wo)man rising above his or her social situation to discover money conquers all.

    Fitzgerald has a discerning ability for sharp critiques of the economically privileged and, like Jane Austin, has an ear for realistic, bantering dialogue. Through Nick’s narration, we see a world that so many Americans dream of (its enviableness only further accentuated by our open disdain for it): a life of endless parties, delicious food, beautiful clothes, and Paris Hilton. Nick who’s paradoxically drawn to his cousin, Daisy’s, and her husband, Tom’s, lifestyle with gloating contempt echoes the contemporary American idolization of an elite lifestyle that none but a select few attain.

    We watch Daisy with her voice that “sounds of money” flit about with uncompromising shallowness and vivacious school-girl frivolity, and through her, see so many of the inconsequential remarks and actions others (as well as ourselves) have made for the sheer sake of “having a good time”. In spite of her frivolity and weak disposition, we become, like Gatsby, “overwhelmingly aware of the youth and mystery that wealth imprisons and preserves, of the freshness of many clothes, and of Daisy, gleaming like silver, safe and proud above the hot struggles of the poor.”

    Through Gatsby’s veneration of Daisy, we not only imagine what so many Americans desire (success), but also we see the goal and glittering fixation of all humanity: beauty. And like many Americans in the throes of Capitalism, Gatsby believes that money can buy beauty as well as love. Fitzgerald articulates this disillusion with haunting force, particularly voiced through Nick’s obsessive repulsion with the extravagant society his social status has allowed him and the sadness he finds while watching a “working man” attempt to enter it.

    One critique of

    , which could also be argued as a positive, is the limited scope of action and themes Fitzgerald chooses to encapsulate. We only see the wealthy elite (or people wanting to be the wealthy elite), and only Nick really has any depth of characterization. Unlike a tome, such as

    ,

    fails to have numerous interwoven plotlines within a grand historical context. Yes, the Jazz Age is the novel’s backdrop, but Fitzgerald fails to engage in any discussion beyond a summer among the wealthy youth partying into the wee hours of the night in the West Egg. Yet, the control with which Fitzgerald expresses his limited themes makes the novel’s lack of scope forgivable.

    is short and easily accessible, and I have no doubt these aspects of the novel do lend to its everlasting popularity. At the same time, it should never diminish its truly admirable ability to tease apart some of the most confounding qualities American culture values: money, beauty, youth, hard work, and the ever effusive, love.

  • Alex
    Dec 24, 2007

    The Great Gatsby is your neighbor you're best friends with until you find out he's a drug dealer. It charms you with some of the most elegant English prose ever published, making it difficult to discuss the novel without the urge to stammer awestruck about its beauty. It would be evidence enough to argue that F. Scott Fitzgerald was superhuman, if it wasn't for the fact that we know he also wrote This Side of Paradise.

    But despite its magic, the rhetoric is just that, and it is a cruel facade. Be

    The Great Gatsby is your neighbor you're best friends with until you find out he's a drug dealer. It charms you with some of the most elegant English prose ever published, making it difficult to discuss the novel without the urge to stammer awestruck about its beauty. It would be evidence enough to argue that F. Scott Fitzgerald was superhuman, if it wasn't for the fact that we know he also wrote This Side of Paradise.

    But despite its magic, the rhetoric is just that, and it is a cruel facade. Behind the stunning glitter lies a story with all the discontent and intensity of the early Metallica albums. At its heart, The Great Gatsby throws the very nature of our desires into a harsh, shocking light. There may never be a character who so epitomizes tragically misplaced devotion as Jay Gatsby, and Daisy, his devotee, plays her part with perfect, innocent malevolence. Gatsby's competition, Tom Buchanan, stands aside watching, taunting and provoking with piercing vocal jabs and the constant boast of his enviable physique. The three jostle for position in an epic love triangle that lays waste to countless innocent victims, as well as both Eggs of Long Island. Every jab, hook, and uppercut is relayed by the instantly likable narrator Nick Carraway, seemingly the only voice of reason amongst all the chaos. But when those boats are finally borne back ceaselessly by the current, no one is left afloat. It is an ethical massacre, and Fitzgerald spares no lives; there is perhaps not a single character of any significance worthy even of a Sportsmanship Award from the Boys and Girls Club.

    In a word, The Great Gatsby is about deception; Fitzgerald tints our glasses rosy with gorgeous prose and a narrator you want so much to trust, but leaves the lenses just translucent enough for us to see that Gatsby is getting the same treatment. And if Gatsby represents the truth of the American Dream, it means trouble for us all. Consider it the most pleasant insult you'll ever receive.

  • LooseLips
    Dec 31, 2007

    The eh Gatsby

    Classic. Yes. THE great American novel. Hmph, so I heard. I suppose it should make one more interested, or at least feel more compelled to read something (or re-read as is the case here) when it has "classic" and "everyone else loves it!" stamped all over it. And has a movie made out of it, though what beloved novel hasn't these days? Of course, I originally read FSF's Gatsby because I was expected to for a high school English class. So, even though I was never the type to do homewo

    The eh Gatsby

    Classic. Yes. THE great American novel. Hmph, so I heard. I suppose it should make one more interested, or at least feel more compelled to read something (or re-read as is the case here) when it has "classic" and "everyone else loves it!" stamped all over it. And has a movie made out of it, though what beloved novel hasn't these days? Of course, I originally read FSF's Gatsby because I was expected to for a high school English class. So, even though I was never the type to do homework, I read The Great Gatsby because it had a neat cover, Fitzgerald is fun to say, and, of course, the legend of Zelda.

    Unfortunately for Meredyth, my thoughts on Gatsby 10 years ago are pretty similar to the thoughts I have on it today: How pretty. Pretty decedant. How drippy. How zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

    It's not that I was completely uninterested. It's that my interest was never piqued to the point of really giving a shit. Sure, who doesn't love a hot mysteriously wealthy man with serious heart ache for a serious material girl? What about those rich dudes who may be crooks but no one can figger out how crooked they are exactly because how crooked can you be if you throw such mean hoedowns?!

    Oh, and I love a good morally ambiguous-protaganist/narrator-who-hates-parties-and-society-but-just-can't-seem-to-stay-away as much as the next person, but Nick, our hero, just wants to be liked so very much, and unfortunately, he reads like a sap. And when all the other characters are unforgivable bores, I would prefer that my ambiguous, socially mandated narrator manage to keep me awake.

    What about those three stars? You ask. Well I can't lie. I do think Fitz had a way with words. I did find that those subtle nuances of the variations in lifestyle during the depression to be very much in effect, and I would be happy to visit any fictional small town called West Egg. Or East Egg for that matter. And I get the kind of crazy he was going for in his more psychopathic character, George Wilson, who, because he was in love, becomes the bastiOn of normalcy even when he is driven to murder and his own suicide.

    FSF did manage to be believably compassionate towards his seemingly less insane characters, (who are all on the brink of insanity) (but still made me drowsy). There is definitely a part of me that sees how one could be drawn into the twinkly lit world FSF created, supposedly, out of his own reality, and I have noted his passion for the beauty of the unfolding story, such as it is.

    But I was disappointed 10 years ago by the story's inability to convince me it wasn't nap time, its unwillingness to point out the the relevance of the individual over society, and the irrelevance of the world Gatsby inhabits, and I was disappointed again this past week.

    In summation, be sure to keep an eye out for this writer. Once he writes something more appealing to the masses he's sure to bust out onto the scene soon. You heard it here first.

  • Pollopicu
    Sep 29, 2009

    This is my least-favorite classic of all time. Probably even my least favorite book, ever.

    I didn't have the faintest iota of interest in neither era nor lifestyle of the people in this novela. So why did I read it to begin with? well, because I wanted to give it a chance. I've been surprised by many books, many a times. Thought this could open a new literary door for me.

    Most of the novel was incomprehensibly lame. I was never fully introduced to the root of the affair that existed between Gatsb

    This is my least-favorite classic of all time. Probably even my least favorite book, ever.

    I didn't have the faintest iota of interest in neither era nor lifestyle of the people in this novela. So why did I read it to begin with? well, because I wanted to give it a chance. I've been surprised by many books, many a times. Thought this could open a new literary door for me.

    Most of the novel was incomprehensibly lame. I was never fully introduced to the root of the affair that existed between Gatsby and Daisy. So they were in love...yeah..I've been in love too, who cares?

    Several times I didn't even understand where characters were when they were speaking to each other. I also didn't understand the whole affair with Tom and Mrs. Wilson.. and something about her husband locking her up over the garage...? huh? then she gets run over by a car, then he sneaks in through the trees and shoots Gatsby? wha..? still..why am I suppose to care about all this?

    Shallow and meaningless characters. Again, who cares?

    I read this book twice. 2 times. I just didn't get it.

    I can't believe this book is revered with the rest of the great classics. Truly unbelievable. Fitzgerald certainly kissed the right asses with this one.

    What garbage.

    Daisy quote:

    ...sob..sob.. boo-hoo-hoo. oh Please someone shut her the fuck up.

  • Nataliya
    May 02, 2010

    Oh Gatsby, you old sport, you poor semi-delusionally hopeful dreamer with '

    ', focusing your whole self and soul on that elusive money-colored green light - a dream that shatters just when you are *this* close to it.

    Just like the Great Houdini - the association the

    Oh Gatsby, you old sport, you poor semi-delusionally hopeful dreamer with '

    ', focusing your whole self and soul on that elusive money-colored green light - a dream that shatters just when you are *this* close to it.

    Just like the Great Houdini - the association the title of this book so easily invokes - you specialized in illusions and escape. Except even the power of most courageous dreamers can be quite helpless to allow us escape the world, our past, and ourselves, giving rise to one of the most famous closing lines of a novel.

    Dear Gatsby, not everything I liked back when I was fourteen has withstood the test of time¹ - but you clearly did, and as I get older, closer to your and Nick Carraway's age, your story gathers more dimensions and more tragedy, fleshing out so much more from what I thought of as a tragic love story when I was a child - turning into a great American tragedy.

    Your tragedy was that you equated your dream with money, and money with happiness and love. And honestly, given the messed up world we live in, you were not that far from getting everything you thought you wanted, including the kind of love that hinges on the green dollar signs.

    And you *almost* saw it, you poor bastard, but in the end you chose to let your delusion continue, you poor soul.

    Poor Gatsby! Yours is the story of a young man who suddenly rose to wealth and fame, running like a hamster on the wheel amassing wealth for the sake of love, for the sake of winning the heart of a Southern belle, the one whose

    - in a book written by a young man who suddenly rose to wealth and fame, desperately running on the hamster wheel of 'high life' to win the heart of his own Southern belle. Poor Gatsby, and poor F. Scott Fitzgerald - the guy who so brilliantly described it all, but who continued to live the life his character failed to see for what it was.

    is a story about the lavish excesses meant to serve every little whim of the rich and wannabe-rich in the splendid but unsatisfying in their shallow emptiness glitzy and gaudy post-war years, and the resulting suffocation under the uselessness and unexpected oppressiveness of elusive American dream in the time when money was plenty and the alluring seemingly dream life was just around the corner, just within reach.

    - while at the same time firmly hanging on to the idea of the dream, the ability to dream big, and the stubborn tenacity of the dreamer,

    .

    This is why

    is still so relevant in the world we live in - almost a hundred years after Fitzgerald wrote it in the Roaring Twenties - the present-day world that still worships money and views it as a substitute for the American dream, the world that hinges on materialism, the world that no longer frowns on the gaudiness and glitz of the nouveau riche.

    In this world Jay Gatsby, poor old sport, with his huge tasteless mansion and lavish tasteless parties and in-your-face tasteless car and tasteless pink suit would be, perhaps, quietly sniggered at - but would have fit in without the need for aristocratic breeding - who cares if he has the money and the ability to throw parties worthy of reality show fame???

    Because in the present world just the fact of having heaps of money makes you worthy - and therefore the people whose

    , who are

    , people who genuinely believe that money makes them worthy and invincible are all too common. Tom and Daisy Buchanan would be proud of them.

    This book somehow hit the right note back when I read it when I was fourteen, and hit even truer note now, deeply resonating with me a decade short of a hundred years since it was written. If you read it for school years ago, I ask you to pick it up and give its pages another look - and it may amaze you.

  • Stephen
    May 02, 2010

    Casual, self-absorbed decadence, the evaporation of social grace, money calling all the shots and memories of the past holding people hostage from the future that lies before them. Yes,

    has nailed it and written one of

    great American novels.

    This book was a surprise. I LOVED it and all of the deep contradictions swimming around its heart. At once a scathing indictment on the erosion of the American Dream, but also a bittersweet love letter to the unfailing optimism of the Ame

    Casual, self-absorbed decadence, the evaporation of social grace, money calling all the shots and memories of the past holding people hostage from the future that lies before them. Yes,

    has nailed it and written one of

    great American novels.

    This book was a surprise. I LOVED it and all of the deep contradictions swimming around its heart. At once a scathing indictment on the erosion of the American Dream, but also a bittersweet love letter to the unfailing optimism of the American people. Call it dignified futility…obstinate hopefulness. Whatever you call it, this novel is shiny and gorgeous, written with a sort of breezy pretension that seems to mirror the loose morality of the story. Rarely have I come across a book whose style so perfectly enhances its subject matter.

    Set in the eastern United States just after World War I, Fitzgerald shows us an America that has lost its moral compass. This fall from grace is demonstrated through the lives of a handful of cynical “well-to-dos” living lavish but meaningless lives that focus on nothing but the pursuit of their own pleasures and whims.

    Standing apart from these happenings (while still being part of them) is our narrator, Nick Carraway. As the one honest and decent person in the story, Nick stands in stark contrast to the other characters.

    Nick relays the story of the summer he spent in Long Island’s West Egg in a small house sandwiched between the much larger mansions of the area. His time in Long Island is spent with a group that includes his second cousin, Daisy Buchanan, and her rich husband Tom who live in Long Island’s East Egg. At one point in the story, Nick provides the following description of the pair which I do not think can be improved upon:

    In addition, we have Jordan Baker who is a poster child for the pretty, amoral, self-centered rich girl whose view of the world is jaded and unsentimental. Basically, she’s a bitch.

    The most intriguing character by far is Jay Gatsby himself, both for who he is and for how Fitzgerald develops him through the course of the narrative. When we are first introduced to Gatsby, he comes across as a polite, gracious, well-mannered gentleman with a magnetic personality who our narrator takes to immediately.

    However, from that very first encounter, Fitzgerald slowly chips away at the persona and peels back the layers of the “Great” Gatsby until we are left with a flawed and deeply tragic figure that in my opinion ranks among the most memorable in all of classic literature. Nick’s journey in his relationship with Gatsby mirrors our own.

    Through a series of parties, affairs, beatings, drunken escapades, the lives of the characters intermesh with terrible consequences. I don’t want to give away major parts of the story as I think they are best experienced for the first time fresh, but at the heart of Fitzgerald’s morality tale is a tragic love that for me rivaled the emotional devastation I felt at the doomed relationship of Heathcliff and Catherine in

    . In general, Fitzgerald’s world of excessive jubilance and debauchery is a mask that the characters wear to avoid the quiet torments that haunt them whenever they are forced to take stock of their actions. Rather than do this, they simply keep moving.

    In the end, Fitzgerald manages the amazing feat of creating a sad, bleak portrait of America while maintaining a sense of restrained optimism in the future. Both heart-wrenching and strangely comforting at the same time. I guess in the end, this was a book that made me feel a lot and that is all I can ever ask. I’m going to wrap this up with my second favorite quote from the book (my favorite being the one at the very beginning of the review):

    5.0 stars. HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION!!

  • Ian
    Feb 23, 2011

    Capitalism tends towards monopoly.

    No capitalist welcomes a competitor or rival. Having attained wealth, the desire is to retain it, not to concede it; to increase it, not to share it.

    A competitor is perceived as a threat, and will be treated like a virus invading an otherwise healthy, but vulnerable, body.

    "The Great Gatsby" is often described as a paean to the Great American Dream.

    This Dream supposedly sustains the average American. It of

    Capitalism tends towards monopoly.

    No capitalist welcomes a competitor or rival. Having attained wealth, the desire is to retain it, not to concede it; to increase it, not to share it.

    A competitor is perceived as a threat, and will be treated like a virus invading an otherwise healthy, but vulnerable, body.

    "The Great Gatsby" is often described as a paean to the Great American Dream.

    This Dream supposedly sustains the average American. It offers the opportunity to achieve success, prosperity and happiness, regardless of class, status, background or wealth.

    It contains a promise of upward social mobility, a reward that will be ours if we work hard enough.

    We all have an equal opportunity to transcend our current circumstances.

    Implicitly, if we fail to transcend, we have only ourselves to blame. We didn't take sufficient advantage of our opportunity. Everybody is responsible for their own failure.

    The Great American Dream isn't far from the Objectivist Philosophy of Ayn Rand.

    Stars and stripes and silhouettes and shadows.

    Most readers think of Jay Gatsby as someone who took advantage of his opportunity, and made it.

    In that sense, he's the epitome of the Great American Dream.

    He has amassed enormous business wealth. He owns a colossal mansion on West Egg, Long Island. Every week, he holds a lavish party attended by all and sundry. The parties are the ultimate in Jazz Age glamour.

    Gatsby has achieved everything material an American could want. He has realised the Long Island real estate mantra, "Vocation, Location, Ovation".

    So what's Gatsby's problem?

    Every night, Gatsby looks across the sound to a green light on a porch, where Daisy lives in her more prestigious East Egg mansion with her husband, Tom Buchanan.

    Daisy is the one thing for which Gatsby yearns. She is the one thing he has sought after since he met and fell in love with her five years earlier at age 25.

    "The Great Gatsby" revers that small green light. What we never see is what Gatsby's mansion looked like from Daisy's perspective at home. We aren't expressly offered a vision of Gatsby's fully-lit mansion as a counterpoint to Tom's, but that is what it is.

    The point is Gatsby's achievement of the Great American Dream was not the end, as it is with most Americans, it was the means to an end, and that end was winning the hand in marriage of Daisy.

    The most important thing about Gatsby's mansion, from Gatsby's point of view, is what it would look like to one woman across the sound.

    Gatsby has already lost Daisy once, in 1917, when as a destitute young officer during the war, he was unable to marry her, because he could not offer her a financial security that was acceptable to her wealthy mid-west family.

    Since then, he has acquired wealth, by whatever means necessary, to win her away from Tom and marry her.

    The wealth was nothing to him, the parties were grotesque bonfires of vanity, designed with one thing in mind: to attract Daisy's attention and bring her, curious, within his reach.

    Then, having got her within his sphere of influence, he could win her back.

    "The Great Gatsby" is really about the love a man had for a woman, how he lost it and what he did to regain it.

    At one point, Gatsby talks about repeating the past. I don't see him as repeating it, so much as regaining it, making up for lost time, retrieving what he felt should have been his.

    "The Great Gatsby" is not so much about repetition, as it is about retrieval; not so much a remembrance of things past, as a resumption of a journey from a point in the past when the journey was broken.

    Carey Mulligan as Daisy (Courtesy: The Telegraph)

    At its heart, Gatsby engages in adultery with Daisy, with a view to convincing her to divorce Tom and marry him.

    Many might find his conduct objectionable, except that he is young, elegant, good-looking, fabulously wealthy and, most importantly, in love with the slender Daisy.

    In contrast, Tom is a brute of a man, he is an ex-champion footballer, hard and cruel. Most importantly, he has cheated on Daisy many times and now has a mistress, the stout, but sensuous, Myrtle Wilson.

    Tom comes from an extremely wealthy mid-western family. Money is no object to him. Daisy might have the voice of money, but Tom has the demeanour and arrogance of not just money, but old money.

    When Tom learns of Daisy's infidelity and Gatsby's takeover bid, he goes into typical capitalist mode in order to defend his wife, his asset, his marital property.

    He researches Gatsby's past and theorises about how he has made his new money. He plans his counter-attack.

    The narrator, Nick Carraway, watches on, not just witness to a battle between Good and Evil, but in reality a battle between two degrees of bad.

    Black and white portrait of Isla Fisher as Myrtle Wilson

    In the realm of love, as between two rival men, there can be no such thing as a friendly takeover bid.

    There is no suggestion that Tom can allow Gatsby to have Daisy, so that he can settle for Myrtle. The latter is just a plaything, something he spends time on, because she is available and he can have her without effort.

    All Myrtle ever wanted from her own husband was a gentleman with breeding. He turns out to be a mere mechanic and car salesman. He doesn't have the right status. Equally, although he is content to have her as his mistress, Tom doesn't see Myrtle as having the right status for marriage either.

    Ultimately, the role of marriage is not to perpetuate love and happiness. Tom's task is to bond together two wealthy establishment families and their riches. A merger of two capitalist families moves them that much closer to monopolistic power, in the same way that the intermarriage of royal families once cemented international power.

    Tom's goal is so important that it can accommodate his cruelty and infidelities, at least in his eyes.

    Moreover, it allows Tom to prevail over Gatsby, who, despite his war record, his partly-completed Oxford education, his wealth, his glamour, and his apparent achievement of the Great American Dream, is not "one of us".

    Ultimately, coincidence, accident and fate intervene on behalf of Tom, almost comically if it was not so sad, and he resists Gatsby's takeover bid.

    Nick, the observer, the witness, the audience of this tragedy, is left disgusted.

    Elizabeth Debicki as Jordan Baker

    "The Great Gatsby" is a short novel. At times, there is more telling than showing. At times, the description is too adjectival or adverbial for the dictates of current style manuals.

    Take away the mansion, the parties and the glamour, and what remains comes close to the dimensions of film noir like "Double Indemnity".

    While the novel is perceived as hailing the Great American Dream, the paradox is that it highlights how great are the forces that are lined up to resist the efforts of a man who aspires to the Dream, especially if that man is a trespasser who covets another man's wife, even if he loves her and she loves him.

    There are flaws in Fitzgerald's writing, but they are tolerable. The story is magificent, even if, when laid out methodically, it might appear cliched. The characters, while realistic, are detailed and larger than life, certainly detailed enough to withstand the scrutiny when they are projected onto the silver screen. They are portrayed acting out their emotions in exactly the same way that we might in the same circumstances.

    However, in the long run, what makes "The Great Gatsby" great is Fitzgerald's ability to both adulate and perpetuate the Great American Dream, while simultaneously subverting it.