But his heart was in a constant, turbulent riot. The most grotesque and fantastic conceits haunted him in his bed at night. A universe of ineffable gaudiness spun itself out in his brain while the clock ticked on the wash-stand and the moon soaked with wet light his tangled clothes upon the floor. Each night he added to the pattern of his fancies until drowsiness closed down upon some vivid scene with an oblivious embrace. For a while these reveries provided an outlet for his imagination; there was a satisfactory hint of the unreality of reality, a promise that the rock of the world was founded securely on a fairy’s wing.
– The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald (ch.6 / pg. 105)
I’m re-reading F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, partly in anticipation of the Baz Luhrmann adaptation, partly out of nostalgia. I know some people can’t stand the book, but I loved it when I first read it in high school, and I love it still after all these years. Aside from Fitzgerald’s beautiful lyrical voice, what draws me back again and again to the book is the character of Jay Gatsby. Gatsby is a dreamer, a man whose greatest fault is not his grand ambitions or his desire to make something of himself, but rather his failing to realize that he long since blurred the boundaries between reality and fantasy. And yet I cannot disapprove of him, not entirely. There is something so earnest and well-meaning in Gatsby, something golden and attractive that stirs my sympathy and wants him to succeed, regardless of his questionable dealings. There’s something of the fairytale prince about him – not a prince in shining armor, but a prince who keeps to his enchanted castle, longing for the beautiful maiden who stole his heart so many years ago.
♦ ♦ ♦
Readers – Have you read The Great Gatsby before? What are your thoughts on the novel? Will you (re-)read it in anticipation of the upcoming film?