So We Read On (book review) Maureen Corrigan

How The Great Gatsby Came to Be and Why It Endures


120116: i have not read critical work on [book:The Great Gatsby|27451] for many years (decades...). this is an example of when the created art is in exactly the right medium, genre, voice, and all crit can do is bring out what is already perfect there. over the decades since i first read, then once every three or so years- might give the idea that too much information deadens the magic, but not in this case...


this is sort of a summary of how the book was conceived, received, reviewed, reappraised, with some details about f scott and zelda that might already be familiar: social insecurity, dramatic early success, embodiment of the Jazz age, serious artistic intent, difficult lives, alcoholism, something like radical bi-polar disorder for z. there is an argument that gatsby is a book for the mature, for memories, but the truth is how young he was when wrote it, how it is poetic in the way his young heroes were- in the book and in romantic poets...


this has inspired me to read it again. i have read work inspired by him, by ross macdonald for example [book:Black Money|852505], i have seen the movies from 1974, 2013, and even 1949, because even when seen before reading the book, seen when too young to appreciate, gatsby will forever be redford to me, daisy will be any of the women i have loved, but reading it this time, after reading of it, i have a greater sense of history. i have never and now probably will never read too many of his stories, though i have read [book:Tender Is the Night|46164], read [book:The Love of the Last Tycoon|16857], but if there is only one work to be remembered by, gatsby is the one. not too surprised i could remember passages because this is poetry. what is said always means more than what is written. i will always have this in my life, in my reading of other work, in my reading of life situations...


so, of this critical work, it is pleasant to be with someone who knows of the entirety of fitzgerald's life, knows or imagines sympathetically, his work, his ambitions, his past, his present reputation. this work even makes me more appreciate luhrmann's recent movie version, even if it is so obvious, so loud, because he is writing about, writing in, his popular culture and era- and we can incorporate our present popular culture. his work will never get old. this book spurs me to reconsider it. this book is so apparently simple that only by rereading does one discover how precise and well-wrought and concise it is. perfect book. i am always sad when someone (like my dad) does not see critical, romantic, even political critique, beyond this brief but endless work...

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