Now the subject of a major new film from director Baz Luhrmann ("Romeo+Juliet", "Moulin Rouge!"), starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan, "The Great Gatsby" is F. Scott Fitzgerald's brilliant fable of the hedonistic excess and tragic reality of 1920s America. This "Penguin Classics" edition is edited with an introduction and notes by Tony Tanner. Young, handsome and fabulously rich, Jay Gatsby is the bright star of the Jazz Age, but as writer Nick Carraway is drawn into the decadent orbit of his Long Island mansion, where the party never seems to end, he finds himself faced by the mystery of Gatsby's origins and desires. Beneath the shimmering surface of his life, Gatsby is hiding a secret: a silent longing that can never be fulfilled. And soon, this destructive obsession will force his world to unravel. In "The Great Gatsby", Fitzgerald brilliantly captures both the disillusionment of post-war America and the moral failure of a society obsessed with wealth and status. But he does more than render the essence of a particular time and place, for - in chronicling Gatsby's tragic pursuit of his dream - Fitzgerald re-creates the universal conflict between illusion and reality. Like Jay Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940) has acquired a mythical status in American literary history, and his masterwork. "The Great Gatsby" is considered by many to be the 'great American novel'. In 1920 he married Zelda Sayre, dubbed 'the first American Flapper', and their traumatic marriage and Zelda's gradual descent into insanity became the leading influence on his writing. As well as many short stories, Fitzgerald wrote five novels "This Side of Paradise", "The Great Gatsby", "The Beautiful and the Damned", "Tender is the Night" and, incomplete at the time of his death, "The Last Tycoon". After his death "The New York Times" said of him that 'in fact and in the literary sense he created a "generation"'. "A classic, perhaps the supreme American novel". (John Carey, "Sunday Times" Books of the Century).
In 1922, F. Scott Fitzgerald announced his decision to write "something new
--something extraordinary and beautiful and simple + intricately patterned." That extraordinary, beautiful, intricately patterned, and above all, simple novel became The Great Gatsby
, arguably Fitzgerald's finest work and certainly the book for which he is best known. A portrait of the Jazz Age in all of its decadence and excess, Gatsby
captured the spirit of the author's generation and earned itself a permanent place in American mythology. Self-made, self-invented millionaire Jay Gatsby embodies some of Fitzgerald's--and his country's--most abiding obsessions: money, ambition, greed, and the promise of new beginnings. "Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter--tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther.... And one fine morning--" Gatsby's rise to glory and eventual fall from grace becomes a kind of cautionary tale about the American Dream.
It's also a love story, of sorts, the narrative of Gatsby's quixotic passion for Daisy Buchanan. The pair meet five years before the novel begins, when Daisy is a legendary young Louisville beauty and Gatsby an impoverished officer. They fall in love, but while Gatsby serves overseas, Daisy marries the brutal, bullying, but extremely rich Tom Buchanan. After the war, Gatsby devotes himself blindly to the pursuit of wealth by whatever means--and to the pursuit of Daisy, which amounts to the same thing. "Her voice is full of money," Gatsby says admiringly, in one of the novel's more famous descriptions. His millions made, Gatsby buys a mansion across Long Island Sound from Daisy's patrician East Egg address, throws lavish parties, and waits for her to appear. When she does, events unfold with all the tragic inevitability of a Greek drama, with detached, cynical neighbor Nick Carraway acting as chorus throughout. Spare, elegantly plotted, and written in crystalline prose, The Great Gatsby is as perfectly satisfying as the best kind of poem.