Rating: 3 Stars
Early in ‘The Great Gatsby’, the narrator, Nick Carraway, hints that we should reserve judgment. That’s a good thing to remember while reading about the people who populate this story, “…people [who] played polo and were rich together.”
Carraway, who comes from a privileged background, meets his cousin Daisy and her husband, Tom Buchanan, when he moves to New York. Buchanan is a man of animal physicality, who for a change of pace is trying on ill-founded intellectual opinions for size. Daisy is an apparently fragile woman of extreme affectations, whose appeal is rather baffling. Nevertheless, Nick finds her charming; and her rich neighbor, Jay Gatsby is completely under her spell.
‘The Great Gatsby’, published in 1925, is considered a twentieth-century American masterpiece. It coud be argued that the importance of the book is due less to its literary merit, and more to how effectively it captures the zeitgeist of the Jazz Age. It's a chronicle of an era when the Prohibition made millionaires out of bootleggers, the cinema ushered in a new age of glamor, and America shrugged aside its Puritanical history to openly experience the giddy rush of sexual license.
Despite the book's succinct social observations, it merely depicts behavior without sounding the complexities of human nature. This lack of depth is disappointing. The portrayal of the fornications of the idle rich may be fodder for a society gossip magazine, but shorn of psychological context, it hardly makes a gripping subject for a novel.