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The timeless story of Jay Gatsby and his love for Daisy Buchanan is widely acknowledged to be the closest thing to the Great American Novel ever written.
"Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone," he told me, "just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had."
He didn't say any more but we've always been unusually communicative in a reserved way and I understood that he meant a great deal more than that. In consequence I'm inclined to reserve all judgements, a habit that has opened up many curious natures to me and also made me the victim of not a few veteran bores. The abnormal mind is quick to detect and attach itself to this quality when it appears in a normal person, and so it came about that in college I was unjustly accused of being a politician, because I was privy to the secret griefs of wild, unknown men. Most of the confidences were unsought - frequently I have feigned sleep, preoccupation or a hostile levity when I realized by some unmistakable sign that an intimate revelation was quivering on the horizon - for the intimate revelations of young men or at least the terms in which they express them are usually plagiaristic and marred by obvious suppressions. Reserving judgements is a matter of infinite hope. I am still a little afraid of missing something if I forget that, as my father snobbishly suggested and I snobbishly repeat, a sense of the fundamental decencies is parcelled out unequally at birth.
And, after boasting this way of my tolerance, I come to the admission that it has a limit. Conduct may be founded on the hard rock or the wet marshes but after a certain point I don't care what it's founded on. When I came back from the East last autumn I felt that I wanted the world to be in uniform and at a sort of moral attention forever; I wanted no more riotous excursions with privileged glimpses into the human heart. Only Gatsby, the man who gives his name to this book, was exempt from my reaction - Gatsby who represented everything for which I have an unaffected scorn. If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him, some heightened sensitivity to the promises of life, as if he were related to one of those intricate machines that register earthquakes ten thousand miles away. This responsiveness had nothing to do with that flabby impressionability which is dignified under the name of the "creative temperament" - it was an extraordinary gift for hope, a romantic readiness such as I have never found in any other person and which it is not likely I shall ever find again. No - Gatsby turned out all right at the end; it is what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the wake of his dreams that temporarily closed out my interest in the abortive sorrows and short-winded elations of men.
My family have been prominent, well-to-do people in this middle-western city for three generations. The Carraways are something of a clan and we have a tradition that we're descended from the Dukes of Buccleuch, but the actual founder of my line was my grandfather's brother who came here in fifty-one, sent a substitute to the Civil War and started the wholesale hardware business that my father carries on today.
I never saw this great-uncle but I'm supposed to look like him - with special reference to the rather hard-boiled painting that hangs in Father's office. I graduated from New Haven in 1915, just a quarter of a century after my father, and a little later I participated in that delayed Teutonic migration known as the Great War. I enjoyed the counter-raid so thoroughly that I came back restless. Instead of being the warm center of the world the middle-west now seemed like the ragged edge of the universe - so I decided to go east and learn the bond business. Everybody I knew was in the bond business so I supposed it could support one more single man. All my aunts and uncles talked it over as if they were choosing a prep-school for me and finally said "Why - ye-es" with very grave, hesitant faces. Father agreed to finance me for a year and after various delays I came east, permanently, I thought, in the spring of twenty-two.
The practical thing was to find rooms in the city but it was a warm season and I had just left a country of wide lawns and friendly trees, so when a young man at the office suggested that we take a house together in a commuting town it sounded like a great idea. He found the house, a weather beaten cardboard bungalow at eighty a month, but at the last minute the firm ordered him to Washington and I went out to the country alone. I had a dog, at least I had him for a few days until he ran away, and an old Dodge and a Finnish woman who made my bed and cooked breakfast and muttered Finnish wisdom to herself over the electric stove.
It was lonely for a day or so until one morning some man, more recently arrived than I, stopped me on the road.
"How do you get to West Egg Village?" he asked helplessly.
I told him. And as I walked on I was lonely no longer. I was a guide, a pathfinder, an original settler. He had casually conferred on me the freedom of the neighborhood.
And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees - just as things grow in fast movies - I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.
There was so much to read for one thing and so much fine health to be pulled down out of the young breath-giving air. I bought a dozen volumes on banking and credit and investment securities and they stood on my shelf in red and gold like new money from the mint, promising to unfold the shining secrets that only Midas and Morgan and Maecenas knew. And I had the high intention of reading many other books besides. I was rather literary in college - one year I wrote a series of very solemn and obvious editorials for the "Yale News" - and now I was going to bring back all such things into my life and become again that most limited of all specialists, the "well-rounded" man. This isn't just an epigram - life is much more successfully looked at from a single window, after all.
It was a matter of chance that I should have rented a house in one of the strangest communities in North America. It was on that slender riotous island which extends itself due east of New York and where there are, among other natural curiosities, two unusual formations of land. Twenty miles from the city a pair of enormous eggs, identical in contour and separated only by a courtesy bay, jut out into the most domesticated body of salt water in the Western Hemisphere, the great wet barnyard of Long Island Sound. They are not perfect ovals - like the egg in the Columbus story they are both crushed fiat at the contact end - but their physical resemblance must be a source of perpetual confusion to the gulls that fly over-head. To the wingless a more arresting phenomenon is their dissimilarity in every particular except shape and size.
I lived at West Egg, the - well, the less fashionable of the two, though this is a most superficial tag to express the bizarre and not a little sinister contrast between them. My house was at the very tip of the egg, only fifty yards from the Sound, and squeezed between two huge places that rented for twelve or fifteen thousand a season. The one on my right was a colossal affair by any standard - it was a factual imitation of some Hôtel de Ville in Normandy, with a tower on one side, spanking new under a thin beard of raw ivy, and a marble swimming pool and more than forty acres of lawn and garden. It was Gatsby's mansion. Or rather, as I didn't know Mr. Gatsby it was a mansion inhabited by a gentleman of that name. My own house was an eye-sore, but it was a small eye-sore and it had been overlooked, so I had a view of the water, a partial view of my neighbor's lawn and the consoling proximity of millionaires - all for eighty dollars a month.
Across the courtesy bay the white places of fashionable East Egg glittered along the water and the history of the summer really begins on the evening I drove over there to have dinner with the Tom Buchanans. Daisy was my second cousin once removed and I'd known Tom in college. And just after the war I spent two days with them in Chicago.
Her husband, among various physical accomplishments, had been one of the most powerful ends that ever played football at New Haven - a national figure in a way, one of those men who reach such an acute limited excellence at twenty-one that everything afterwards savours of anti-climax. His family were enormously wealthy - even in college his freedom with money was a matter for reproach - but now he'd left Chicago and come east in a fashion that rather took your breath away: for instance he'd brought down a string of polo ponies from Lake Forest. It was hard to realize that a man in my own generation was wealthy enough to do that.
Why they came east I don't know. They had spent a year in France, for no particular reason, and then drifted here and there unrestfully wherever people played polo and were rich together. This was a permanent move, said Daisy over the telephone, but I didn't believe it - I had no sight into Daisy's heart but I felt that Tom would drift on forever seeking a little wistfully for the dramatic turbulence of some irrecoverable football game.
And so it happened that on a warm windy evening I drove over to East Egg to see two old friends whom I scarcely knew at all. Their house was even more elaborate than I expected, a cheerful red and white Georgian Colonial mansion overlooking the bay. The lawn started at the beach and ran toward the front door for a quarter of a mile, jumping over sun-dials and brick walks and burning gardens - finally when it reached the house drifting up the side in bright vines as though from the momentum of its run. The front was broken by a line of French windows, glowing now with reflected gold, and wide open to the warm windy afternoon, and Tom Buchanan in riding clothes was standing with his legs apart on the front porch.
He had changed since his New Haven years. Now he was a sturdy, straw haired man of thirty with a rather hard mouth and a supercilious manner. Two shining, arrogant eyes had established dominance over his face and gave him the appearance of always leaning aggressively forward. Not even the effeminate swank of his riding clothes could hide the enormous power of that body - he seemed to fill those glistening boots until he strained the top lacing and you could see a great pack of muscle shifting when his shoulder moved under his thin coat. It was a body capable of enormous leverage - a cruel body.
His speaking voice, a gruff husky tenor, added to the impression of fractiousness he conveyed. There was a touch of paternal contempt in it, even toward people he liked - and there were men at New Haven who had hated his guts.
"Now, don't think my opinion on these matters is final," he seemed to say, "just because I'm stronger and more of a man than you are." We were in the same Senior Society and while we were never intimate I always had the impression that he approved of me and wanted me to like him with some harsh, defiant wistfulness of his own.
We talked for a few minutes on the sunny porch.
"I've got a nice place here," he said, his eyes flashing about restlessly.
Turning me around by one arm he moved a broad flat hand along the front vista, including in its sweep a sunken Italian garden, a half acre of deep pungent roses and a snub-nosed motor boat that bumped the tide off shore.
"It belonged to Demaine the oil man." He turned me around again, politely and abruptly. "We'll go inside."
We walked through a high hallway into a bright rosy-colored space, fragilely bound into the house by French windows at either end. The windows were ajar and gleaming white against the fresh grass outside that seemed to grow a little way into the house. A breeze blew through the room, blew curtains in at one end and out the other like pale flags, twisting them up toward the frosted wedding cake of the ceiling - and then rippled over the wine-colored rug, making a shadow on it as wind does on the sea.
The only completely stationary object in the room was an enormous couch on which two young women were buoyed up as though upon an anchored balloon. They were both in white and their dresses were rippling and fluttering as if they had just been blown back in after a short flight around the house. I must have stood for a few moments listening to the whip and snap of the curtains and the groan of a picture on the wall. Then there was a boom as Tom Buchanan shut the rear windows and the caught wind died out about the room and the curtains and the rugs and the two young women ballooned slowly to the floor.
The younger of the two was a stranger to me. She was extended full length at her end of the divan, completely motionless and with her chin raised a little as if she were balancing something on it which was quite likely to fall. If she saw me out of the corner of her eyes she gave no hint of it - indeed I was almost surprised into murmuring an apology for having disturbed her by coming in.
The other girl, Daisy, made an attempt to rise - she leaned slightly forward with a conscientious expression - then she laughed, an absurd, charming little laugh, and I laughed too and came forward into the room.
"I'm p-paralyzed with happiness."
She laughed again, as if she said something very witty, and held my hand for a moment, looking up into my face, promising that there was no one in the world she so much wanted to see. That was a way she had. She hinted in a murmur that the surname of the balancing girl was Baker. (I've heard it said that Daisy's murmur was only to make people lean toward her; an irrelevant criticism that made it no less charming.)
At any rate Miss Baker's lips fluttered, she nodded at me almost imperceptibly and then quickly tipped her head back again - the object she was balancing had obviously tottered a little and given her something of a fright. Again a sort of apology arose to my lips. Almost any exhibition of complete self sufficiency draws a stunned tribute from me.
I looked back at my cousin who began to ask me questions in her low, thrilling voice. It was the kind of voice that the ear follows up and down as if each speech is an arrangement of notes that will never be played again.
Excerpted from The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald Copyright © 1925 by Charles Scribner's Sons. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Posted May 24, 2011
Want to buy. Will not. YOU CAN NOT JUSTIFY CHARGING THIS PRICE FOR THIS BOOK. CAN NOT. I HATE having to complain but this trend of jacking up prices for our computer file nooks is becoming common practice and is an insult to the intelligence of every nook/nookcolor owner. And we can't use our discount card for what reason. We want to be loyal customers. Please inspire us to do so. If you did not know, we want quality nookbooks and apps at fair prices. If you are a fellow nook owner and see an example of nookbook price abuse, add a comment to your review. Or not.
350 out of 411 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Though the ending isn't Disney-worthy (my usual preference), Fitzgerald did a marvelous job. The book centers around the mysterious character of Gatsby, and, as you turn the pages, his history unravels before your eyes, as well as the narrator's--Nick. Nick is an "average" guy whom we feel we can trust--because he follows his father's advice and does not immediately judge (or so he says). The book will make you yearn for a love you know is impossible, cringe with embarrassment at a shameful past, blush at the awkwardness encountered on nearly every page, laugh and cry at the dramatic irony, and have you researching the Charleston (the dance, not the city--this is set in the 1920s, after all!). It may not be considered a typical love story, but the electricity between Daisy and Gatsby is too strong to deny and it always has me wondering what will happen (though I know). Read for irony, read for lessons, read to be taken back to another time--no, another dimension in which the music never dies and the party is perpetual.
87 out of 104 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 21, 2013
Too expensive! I was planning to buy, but I will look for a hard copy. If you want happy nook owners, dont overcharge for classics!
45 out of 56 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 16, 2009
As soon as a reader opens up their copy of The Great Gatsby they will find themselves thrust into the world of 1920's America. This "Jazz Age" featured the prodigious house parties that the prohibition era was known for. But none of the parties thrown could match the lavishness of the festivities at the Gatsby residence on West Egg, Long Island, especially if you were viewing them from the house of his neighbor Nick Carraway. Nick, being a 29 year old bondsman from Minnesota, would have not expected to be around such a lively atmosphere in the first place and could not be prepared in the very least for the summer that was ahead of him while living next to the Gatsby estate. His summer that year nudged him in the directions of such themes as materialism, adultery, murder and life. Through this time, Nick finds himself telling the story of his events on Long Island that summer and how he progressed through a rite of passage which can also connect to the timeless self-discoveries gone through by all readers throughout their lives. But F. Scott Fitzgerald developed his story further from the narrator's rite of passage and developed a tragic figure that is the focus of the story's title, Jay Gatsby. Jay is the charismatic next door neighbor of Nick, who has more mystery surrounding him than he does house guests. Jay's story revolves around Nick's cousin, Daisy, whom Jay has continued to be devoted to even though their relationship had ended years ago. Those who have felt the hurt of a broken heart can relate to the emotions expressed by both Daisy and Jay while they find themselves immersed in the complications of this love during the book. The immersion in which readers can find themselves experiencing is the reason why this book has not stopped birthing positive review after positive review. F. Scott Fitzgerald has truly created a time portal to the 1920's through this literary masterpiece for all to experience and escape from their own worlds and venture into a life much different than their own.
37 out of 38 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 13, 2013
Posted May 1, 2013
Its high way robbery at its best. Yes we want to read but NOT BE ROBBED.
28 out of 37 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 13, 2013
Posted May 4, 2013
Posted March 18, 2009
I've read this novella over and over again and love it more each time I read it. There is one part that drags on a bit, and that is when it rattles off names of guests at one of Gatsby's elaborate parties, but other than that, it is perfection.
Jay Gatsby is probably F. Scott Fitzgerald's best characters. I can really empathize with him. This work also shows Fitzgerald's improvement in his use of dialogue, which is a bit weak in his previous novels.
At only 188 pages, it is a quick read, but a read that will stick with you forever.
22 out of 24 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 21, 2013
Posted August 12, 2009
I read "The Great Gatsby" two times, one for leisure and the other for school. I still can't entirely understand why it's considered a classic. The themes are hard to pick up and realize and some parts such as the whole switching cars fiasco were confusing and I had to go back and read the part again. Some parts don't make sense but I guess that's just because it's from a different time period such as Tom talking to his lover on the phone and Daisy knows. Why doesn't she do anything about it??? Gatsby gets somewhat annoying and you feel like, "Just talk to her already!!!!" Fitzgerald sets the scene and setting perfectly and the reader gets a real sense of the 1920s vibe. Let's just say it has highs and lows. Worth reading? Yeah, but you'll probably find that there are better books out there. The whole thing is not long so it's good if you have a few hours to spare.
17 out of 37 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 14, 2012
Posted May 23, 2012
Doesn't work well on nook. Some words run together; others are split between lines without hyphens or regsrd to syllables.
9 out of 11 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
This book has been named a classic and I would have to completely agree with that. The book is an amazing novel that captures the early 1900s with amazing accuracy. If you enjoy American literature and history this book is a must read. The writing is exquisite and the higher class of America is excellently portrayed. Fitzgerald's characters will make you question yourself and ethics as they become enthralled in the drama that surrounds them. The book is amazing for discussions and will have to become a permanent fixture in your life after reading it once. This realsitic novel will make you think more than most other classics!
9 out of 11 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 15, 2013
Only contains 7 of the 9 chapters of this book. It's bad enough you charge 2 bucks for something that cost you nothing, buton top of that you are too lazy gibe include the final 2 chapters? However is in charge of this needs to do the world a favor and swallow a bullet.
8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 1, 2013
Posted September 14, 2013
Posted February 20, 2012
I just finished this book. I loved it. There is always something watching over them like that eye doctor sign with the glasses. Also when Gatsby had his parties there was that guy with the owl eyed glasses. I liked how he tied it together with the same owl eyed guy at the end. The end was very sudden and a bit confusing. It really made me think. I noticed it doesn't have much of a moral if any which makes it different because most books have a moral. I think he did a nice job. I am excited to see the movie. Our class couldn't agree which side Nick's house was on...right or left...I pictured it on the right.
8 out of 10 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 13, 2013
If you are looking at this on your nook dont buy the black covered cheaper book. It is not the full book! It is a waste of money.
7 out of 9 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 5, 2008
The Great Gatsby... When I was first assigned to read this book the title did not sound appealing to me. If I was assigned this book in the past, I would have figured it would have been a typical book I had to read for school boring. Even though the title does not sound to appealing to me, I trusted my teacher enough to give the book a a chance. As I begin reading the book I did not understand why it was called ¿The Great Gatsby¿ because the character Gatsby never talked to anyone nor did anyone get to visualize him. As I read through the book , I eventually noticed why it was called the `Great Gatsby¿ and understood why the author picked the title of this book. The Great Gatsby showed the time during the 1920¿s and how it was. Things such as the parties, the poor life, the rich life, cars, and fashion to name a few. The book consisted of two young people [Daisy and Gatsby] in love, but broken apart because Gatsby [who was poor] had to go to war. Daisy ended up not waiting for Gatsby and married a rich fellow named Tom. Tom and Daisy had a child together, but lived a marriage of lies. He had cheated on her with many women due to the unstable choice of marriage. Gatsby came back from war and made something of himself. He became very wealthy and successful. He did this to try to win his old love Daisy back. Years later the both had houses near each other, and Gatsby tried his hardest to get back with Daisy. He thought he could relive the past with her and rekindle there love. Although I enjoyed the book the ending was not how I planned it to turn out in my head. One thing I liked about the ending was how it showed money does not give you everything and you cannot always buy love and happiness, nor a perfect life. The book showed two sides, the life of the poor and the life of the rich. Both ways you can be happy, you just have to find your happiness in yourself and life. You understand in this book that money can buy you nice things, but cannot always buy you love.
7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.