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Thread: why the great gatsby is the greatest american novel

  1. #1
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    Jul 2007

    why the great gatsby is the greatest american novel

    i was totally shocked when my yale tutor told me this

    i have to say that the language does not stand out; the plot is not as good as i thought; and scholars used so much attention in studying the so called jazz age-----the book didnt sell well when it first appeared in the us

    can someone tell me the significance of this book in american literature

  2. #2
    I *asked* for my account to be "deleted"
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    my first thought about it was that it was perfect. perfect in the sense that it's free from excess pretense, it's readable, impressionable without the fuss, and it tells a good story.

  3. #3
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    Apr 2007
    I think the language is beautiful. Very poetic.

    The novel shows the "evil" of the East vs. the innocence of the Midwest. It makes a powerful commentary on the nature of the country.

    I don't happen to think this is THE greatest American novel. I am partial to Huck Finn myself. I don't admire Jay Gatsby in any way and disagree with Nick's calling him "Great." All that is great about Gatsby is his great hope and determination, however silly it is, loving a shallow thing like Daisy Buchanan. Still, he lives the American Dream: a common man becomes rich.

  4. #4
    Bibliophile JBI's Avatar
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    Feb 2007
    Dig at it, for 100 pages it carries labyrinthine dimensions. Every word, character, description, and thought is meaningful; you can write an essay on the choice of anything. I have read countless papers on colour references, vision references, and time references. The all knowing drunk owl eyes, or the guy who lives in Gatsby's house, but isn't known. All additional dimensions. The pace of the novel, the growth of Nick. The fact that the novel has two main characters who both like and hate each other, or the fact that the narrator seduces the reader into believing him, even though his reliability is questionable at best.

    I don't like the book, but it is a damn well written book, I'll give them that.

    For me, the best American novel is probably My Antonia.

  5. #5
    Registered User HotKarl's Avatar
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    Nov 2007
    JBI nailed it; this book it loaded. This book themeatizes America's main goal--the escape of time: frequent references to watches, the final page that talks about rowing into the current, Gatsby's attempts to recreate the past. Then there's traditional modern themes of the wasteland (the valley of ashes) and the rebirth of society (East and West Egg). Themes of class, racism, interpelation, the confusion of the sacred and the profane. Just wow. JBI already mentioned the paradox of Nick Carraway's unreliably reliable narrative. And the language is astounding. I remember a line about light creating a doorway that was just amazing. No one else in American lit uses metonymy so well. Every time I read this novel it blows my mind.
    Witty quotation here! Witty quotation here!

  6. #6
    Registered User kelby_lake's Avatar
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    Mar 2008
    i love the language! it just falls into my memory. no, it's not a edge-of-your-seat page-turner, but it's beautiful. It's a book that leaves a mark on you, and things aren't explained in annoying detail. I'm wary of calling anything greatest.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sir Bartholomew View Post
    my first thought about it was that it was perfect. perfect in the sense that it's free from excess pretense, it's readable, impressionable without the fuss, and it tells a good story.
    I agree, it's perfect in its simplicity and lack of pretense. It's so complete, managing to capture a feel of the whole country at that moment in history, including all its problems and dreams. And the language is lovely, so rhythmic. Fitzgerald put so much of himself into this book he never wrote so well again.

  8. #8
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    May 2009
    Fitzgerald has a very well developed sense for descriptive details that he uses to deepen the situation or depiction of his characters. These details are not banal, but very subtile and corresponding to the aim he wants to complete. I like his style, more than what he writes about. It makes his books enjoyable to read, like a sweet desert (of course, if you like sweets ).

  9. #9
    Registered User Emil Miller's Avatar
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    Jul 2008
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    The power of this novel lies in what's implied as well as in what's overtly stated. It encompases the individual's place in society and the attempt to justify one's existence within it. The amazing thing is that these colossal themes are so beautifully expressed in so few pages. I would rate it as one of the greatest novels ever to have been published.
    "L'art de la statistique est de tirer des conclusions erronèes a partir de chiffres exacts." Napoléon Bonaparte.

    "Je crois que beaucoup de gens sont dans cet état d’esprit: au fond, ils ne sentent pas concernés par l’Histoire. Mais pourtant, de temps à autre, l’Histoire pose sa main sur eux." Michel Houellebecq.

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