I haven’t picked up the Great Gatsby in forever, and flipped through it the other day after hearing about the new movie with Leonardo DiCaprio as Gatsby, directed by Baz Luhrmann, same style as the Romeo and Juliet and Moulin Rouge movies Luhrmann made.
I’d always wondered about what made Gatsby one of those enduring classics. Gatsby and Daisy are actually pretty shallow. Daisy hits someone then Gatsby takes the blame instead of her taking responsibility for the accident. So why has this book about such people remained a classic? Fitzgerald explores enduring themes and portrays that age and its excesses, but what jumped out at me this time, was the writing. I love his descriptions. He writes with economy, but when he does describe the characters, it’s wonderful. Below is a snippet of Nick describing Gatsby:
He smiled understandingly — much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you might come across four or five times in your life. It faced — or seemed to face — the whole external world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey.
I love the last part...and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey.
This is a person that knows how to manipulate and use people and that’s exactly what Gatsby did to Nick, using him to get closer to Daisy. Awesome. (Um, not that he used Nick, but a spot on description awesome 🙂