"The Great Gatsby" is a dazzling social satire, F. Scott Fitzgerald's masterpiece and a milestone in twentieth-century literature, now beautifully repackaged as part of the Penguin Essentials range. 'There was music from my neighbour's house through the summer nights. In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars.' Everybody who is anybody is seen at the glittering parties held in millionaire Jay Gatsby's mansion in West Egg, east of New York. The riotous throng congregates in his sumptuous garden, coolly debating Gatsby's origins and mysterious past. None of the frivolous socialites understands him and among various rumours is the conviction that 'he killed a man'. A detached onlooker, Gatsby is oblivious to the speculation he creates, but always seems to be watching and waiting, though no one knows what for. As the tragic story unfolds, Gatsby's destructive dreams and passions are revealed, leading to disturbing consequences. A brilliant evocation of 1920s high society, "The Great Gatsby" peels away the layers of this glamorous world to display the coldness and cruelty at its heart. "Not only a page-turner and a heartbreaker, it's one of the most quintessentially American novels ever written". ("Time"). "He (F Scott Fitzgerald) was better than he knew, for in fact and in the literary sense he invented a "generation"". ("New York Times"). "The most perfectly crafted work of fiction to have come out of America". (Professor Tony Tanner). "The American masterwork, the finest work of fiction by any of this country's writers". ("Washington Post"). F. Scott Fitzgerald was born in St Paul, Minnesota in 1896. He studied at Princeton University before joining the army in 1917. In 1920 he married Zelda Sayre. Their traumatic relationship and subsequent breakdowns became a major influence on his writing. Among his publications were five novels, "This Side of Paradise", "The Great Gatsby", "The Beautiful and the Damned", "Tender is the Night" and "The Last Tycoon" (his last and unfinished work); six volumes of short stories and "The Crack-Up", a selection of autobiographical pieces. F. Scott Fitzgerald died suddenly in 1940.
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.