1. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I read The Great Gatsby in school, but ...

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by GingerCoffee, May 10, 2013.

    Why is it I can only remember my teacher telling us Fitzgerald lived in the least expensive house in a rich neighborhood? Besides a weird collage I made to represent the book, I can't remember any of it. I know I read it. I got excellent grades. Why is it so non-memorable?

    Am I the only one?
     
  2. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I think I remember it so well because I wrote a pissy feminist analysis of it. My heart wasn't in it, but it was the easiest way to get a good grade (instead of pulling off a Marxist or Structuralist analysis or something).

    Not sure why that particular novel has become so loved. There are amazing American works from the same period, before and after, that are more memorable. At least to me. Like, I love Kate Chopin, but she's been so ignored in comparison (granted, not Fitz's contemporary, but still...).
     
  3. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I recently re-read Gatsby for my book club, after having read it twice -- once in high school and once in college. I, too, found that I really had very little memory of it, although that happens to me sometimes with some books and some movies. Even if I read/view them multiple times, occasionally they just don't stick with me.

    I still like Gatsby, and I like the portrayal of the relationships. There is a lot of nuance that I'm sure I just didn't understand before, especially when I had read it in high school. But most of the folks in my book club agreed that although we liked the book, we couldn't quite understand the extremely high esteem in which so many people hold that novel.
     
  4. blackstar21595
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    blackstar21595 Contributing Member

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    Personally, I hate Fitzgerald's prose because of how purple it can get at times, and I hated every second I spent reading The Great Gatsby. For a "Great American novel" it bored me to death. Then after I met someone who loved Fitsgerald's work, they told me to try reading his short story "The Diamond as Big as the Ritz." after reading that, I still hate his writing cause he gets very purple when it comes to descriptions, but I'll give him one thing though. His dialogue is solid. It's as good as Hemingway's.
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i read it many decades ago and don't find it at all 'non-memorable'... it didn't bore me at all, either...

    it may be an age thing, as most young folks seem to have less patience with the classics than those of us who grew up before tv and video games took over from reading a good book...
     
  6. jeepea
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    jeepea Member

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    I always enjoyed Fitzgerald's prose. I remember reading Gatsby in college, on my own, and I liked it. I've read it since then as well and my admiration hasn't decreased. The story construction was innovative, I believe, with the MC not being the narrator. Part of the reason why it is held in such high esteem is its place in history. I takes place during the "Jazz Age" and so he presented to the public this view of the wealthy that most could not imagine. Fitzgerald was always wanted to be part of the upper class, but as Ginger mentioned, he had a second class upbringing and probably never got over it. I recently reread Tender is the Night and, unfortunately, it has lost some of its luster.
     
  7. blackstar21595
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    blackstar21595 Contributing Member

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    That's not true at all. A friend of mine and I(we're both eighteen) hated Great Gatsby,but we loved 1984 by George Orwell.
     
  8. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    That's because 1984 is the ****.

    Great Gatsby wasn't bad, either.
     
  9. squishytheduck
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    squishytheduck Senior Member

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    Yeah but those are about totally different issues, with totally different prose styles. I enjoyed 1984 a lot more than GG when I was in high school too.

    I've heard that most people who read GG when they are teenagers don't like it, but rereading it as an adult (late 20's onward) is a way more meaningful experience. One possible explanation for this phenomenon is that you can't really relate to the characters when you're so young. Most people don't experience the sort of heartbreaking defeat portrayed in the novel until they are older.

    It gained instant popularity because it was published at a time when everyone in the country had this voyeuristic fascination with the extremely wealthy (not unlike today), and it was like a pocket-sized "My Super Sweet Sixteen" meets "MTV Cribs".

    It's critically acclaimed because it's a metaphor for the decadence of the 20's--and a prophecy of its downfall--a period of US history in which the tenets of the "American dream" were followed to the extreme (not unlike today). In that sense, the novel is a symbol of America itself, the lofty ideals to which it aspires, the often ugly and brutal reality of what society always will be, and the convergence of the twain. Even Fitzgerald's florid prose is appropriate here, as the overconfident, ostentatious voice of a brash generation of youth who think they can conquer all.

    It is America, yo. Who doesn't love America?
     
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  10. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    This is one of those books I think you'll appreciate later in life. I first read it in high school and liked it, though I didn't appreciate what Fitzgerald was doing with the prose. The nuances were lost to me. I then read it again a few years later and appreciated it a lot more.

    There are other books that are read in high school that I think should be reread/studied later in life because of how difficult they are. Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury is one such example.
     
  11. Anthony Martin
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    Anthony Martin Active Member

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  12. NathanRussell
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    NathanRussell Member

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    I have to agree, I've read this quite a few times as I studied it but I think that if I didn't read it for say a decade then I'm sure I would appreciate it a lot more then. Having said that, it's probably up there with some of my favourite novels.
     
  13. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I thought Jack Kerouac's "On the Road" was disappointing when I read it in my early 20s. I was traveling around the world and having fantastic adventures. Kerouac's, "look at the incredible fun we're having" was a joke. I re-read it a few months ago (I'm quite a bit older), and it was worse. They're a bunch of drunken jerks, definitely not "cool people".:p

    But I'm going to have to re-read Gatsby now and see if I remember any of it when I see it.
     
  14. Mal-Madrake
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    Mal-Madrake Member

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    I don't think that it (the liking of this novel) correlates with age but with the number of times you read it (and possibly how much attention you whilst reading). When I read it the first time I thought it boring, unimaginative and the characters unlikable, In spite of hating it at first, I began to appreciate it after giving it another read (two years later). I actually liked Gatsby and his peculiar way of calling everybody sport and I thought the descriptions were neat and in some strange way the downfall of everyone in this novel felt cathartic. If you aren't enthusiastic about symbols and poetic language in prose, you probably won't ever come to like it.
    at Blackstar:1984 truly is great and Animal Farm kind of too but I would warn you not read anything else from Orwell (especially Homage to Catalonia) (full of leftist propaganda but to its benefit has some humorous moments (they do seem out place though (I mean a humorous episode about the hillarious method of Spanish trench warfare a bit clashes with a naturalistic description of a boy blowing his own arm off)))
     
  15. blackstar21595
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    blackstar21595 Contributing Member

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    Funny thing about that. I didn't like Animal Farm either. I understood the message in that book(satire of Russian revolution) and Gatsby, but they were boring to me.

    And when I decided to give Fitzgerald another chance by reading his short story(The diamond as big as the ritz) it just confirmed that his prose contains a lot of unneeded description or gets purple at times. Way too much for my liking.
     

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