Jay Gatsby is living the American dream: he has earned millions of dollars, lives in a sprawling gothic mansion and throws lavish parties every Saturday night. Yet, away from the excesses, the champagne glasses and the uniformed waiters, his heart yearns for Daisy Buchanan, a former flame. Daisy lives close by, sharing an unhappy marriage with the wealthy, adulterous Tom Buchanan. Fed up with her husbands transgressions, Daisy rekindles her romance with Gatsby. The situation quickly unravels: there is a showdown in a Manhattan hotel room and a catastrophic car accident, which irretrievably shatter the brittle illusions of their lives. The Great Gatsby is easily F. Scott Fitzgeralds best-known work. Counted as one of the Great American Novels, it remains one of the most stunning portraits of a resurgent, post-World War I America.
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.