Favourites: F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby

Since it is almost Christmas (Christmas Eve!!!!) I thought I would take a moment to talk about one of my top 3 favourite books of all time. Despite the fact that I love this book – seen the film and theatre versions – I actually do not own my own copy of this book, instead I have to make do with a stolen copy of my Dad’s.

First and foremost, I love the glitz and glamour of the 1920s setting.The vulgarity of Gatsby’s new wealth compared to the delicate gentility of Daisy and Tom Buchanan only emphasises the prominence of  money to the story. Tales of corruption also draw me in, with The Great Gatsby being the supreme example of the inadvertent destruction of innocence.

The complicated character of Daisy Buchanan is particularly interesting; different productions influence her character in different ways – some portray her as a victim, helplessly adrift in the world that has risen around her. Others choose to see her as the master manipulator in a situation she uses to her advantage. I prefer to judge her as a mixture of the two – aware of her situation but not fully in control of it. None of the characters are by any stretch likeable, apart from arguably Nick Carraway – whose passivity is his greatest flaw.

Somehow the book remains a compelling read – call me a sucker for terrible people!

The Beautiful and Damned

This book never gets as good reviews as other Fitzgerald novels. It is considered as less complete and honed. Yet I consider it to be quite haunting in its emphasis of the hopeless, the futility and emptiness of a wealthy and beautiful life. The social climbing and money grabbing nature of Anthony and Gloria’s lives engages the reader, as their passage through time and descent into increasing despair make for a gripping read. I would recommend this as a follow-up to anyone who loved The Great Gatsby, yet I would warn that it does read differently, if possible if you are new to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s work, maybe read The Beautiful and Damned first.

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