“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” (Page 180) Without question, F. Scott Fitzgerald crafted the perfect line. Its lyricism resonated off the page. I can’t imagine anyone who’s ever truly lived not having nostalgic flashes upon reading this text. In addition, it encapsulated the entire premise of the book in a simple sentence. This shows why The Great Gatsby is still widely read all these years following its 1925 publication.
Without question, Fitzgerald penned the greatest story of unrequited love ever written. It pained me to read the following exchange between Nick Carraway and Jay Gatsby.
“I wouldn’t ask too much of her,” I ventured. “You can’t repeat the past.”
“Can’t repeat the past?” he cried incredulously. “Why of course you can!”
He looked around him wildly, as if the past were lurking here in the shadow of his house, just out of reach of his hand.
“I’m going to fix everything the way it was before,” he said, nodding determinedly. “She’ll see.”
He talked a lot about the past, and I gathered he wanted to recover something, some idea of himself perhaps, that had gone into loving Daisy. His life had been confused and disordered since then, but if he could once return to a starting place and go over it all slowly, he could find out what that thing was…” (Page 110)
Wow! That’s potent prose! It’s even more powerful when contrasted with Nick’s earlier depiction of the title character.
If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him, some heightened sensitivity to the promises of life, as if he were related to those intricate machines that register earthquakes ten thousand miles away. This responsiveness had nothing to do with that flabby impressionability which is dignified under the name of “creative temperament”-it was an extraordinary gift for hope, a romantic readiness such as I have never found in any other person and which it is not likely I shall ever find again. (Page 2)
I’ve never encountered a better set-up for a character’s disintegration. Fitzgerald developed this so well that I empathized with and wished the best for Gatsby. I did so in spite of the cryptic references to how he made his fortune. The fillip that led him to pursue this line of action really inspired me to root for the guy.
While known more for his poetic language, Fitzgerald displayed outstanding proficiency with foreshadowing in this book. He presented it in a subtle way that still drew my attention. At one point Gatsby told Nick, “I drift here and there trying to forget the sad thing that happened to me.” (Page 67) The author made an earlier less noticeable reference similar to this, as well.
As many authors are already aware, many books on writing cite The Great Gatsby for Fitzgerald’s unusual choice of a narrator. He made Nick Carraway a second cousin to Gatsby’s love interest, Daisy. In tales such as this most writers would have used either Gatsby or Daisy as the story teller. It showed tremendous skill on the part of the author to try something more creative and to do it so memorably. He selected a challenging approach, and in doing so, made exploring the world of East Egg much more enriching.
One of the greatest tributes a person can pay an author is to read his/her work. With respect to Mr. Fitzgerald I have an even greater one. He was the writer who influenced me to take up the craft and become and author myself. I’m sure I’m not the only reader of The Great Gatsby who felt so inspired.