Many people will now have had their image of Gatsby fixed. Fixed by a film version which focuses on the glamour at the expense of the narrative. Fitzgerald’s portrait of Gatsby is a subtle one; it is many-layered and difficult to unravel. He is not simply a misguided soul with a broken dream. Daisy, too, is so easily misrepresented. She is a fully-formed character in the novel. She is intentionally flimsy but that does not mean that she is shallow. Her life has been a series of disappointments and her failure to commit to Gatsby’s aspirations is a reflection of this.
Fitzgerald’s book is one man’s recollection of an extraordinary summer when his life was altered by the people he met. The creation of Nick Carraway is the embodiment of the author’s genius. By making the narrator non-judgemental he allows the drama to unfold piece by piece, little by little, like the opening of a flower. The final irony, then, is that when Nick does eventually choose a side, it is with Gatsby; who, in his words, ‘represented everything for which I have an unaffected scorn.’
This is a brilliant book and one which does not need powder and polish. It is a privilege to read this novel. There are no shortcuts.