Tag: Modern Classic

Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov

Posted September 27, 2016 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Classic / 2 Comments

Pale Fire by Vladimir NabokovTitle: Pale Fire (Goodreads)
Author: Vladimir Nabokov
Published: Penguin, 1962
Pages: 246
Genres: Classic
My Copy: Paperback

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Vladimir Nabokov’s Pale Fire is a novel centred around a 999 line poem of the same name by fictional poet John Shade. It is primarily focused on a literary commentary by Charles Kinbote, an academic with an obsession with the poet. Starting with the poem in four cantos, then leading into Kinbote’s analysis, Pale Fire is a wonderfully complex novel on obsession and literary criticism. While Nabokov’s 1962 post-modern masterpiece might sound dense on the surface,  I found the novel itself easy to read, but difficult to unpack.

Before sharing my thoughts on Pale Fire, I feel it is important to point out Vladimir Nabokov’s academic career in America. While in America, Nabokov worked as a lecturer mainly in Russian and European literature, most notably at Cornell University from 1948-1959. The reason why this is important is the fact that this experience would have contributed the satirical nature of Pale Fire. I often found the novel to be a tongue in cheek look at literary criticism. On reading this, I found myself laughing at the leaps Kinbote often took to explain the Shade poem. I could not help but think this was a reflection of some of the assignments Nabokov read as a lit professor.

Looking deeper into Pale Fire and there is a lot to gain from the novel. What I noticed first seems to be a popular trope for Nabokov, and that is the unreliable narrator. I cannot help but comparing Charles Kinbote to Humbert Humbert from Lolita. Not only is he unreliable but the obsession with the poet John Shade feels very similar. His obsession towards the poet and the art leads to an artistic passion, however this turns into a struggle with desire exceeding creative capability. It is here we get an interesting idea of critical commentary verses the desire to creating literature.

As things progress the novel shifts to an exploration into reality. I found myself questioning the sanity of Kinbote and maybe he is actually King Charles of Zembla. He could in fact be the exiled king or far more likely, he is suffering from dangerous delusions. From what I know after reading Lolita and Invitation to a Beheading (the only other novels I have read) Nabokov likes to play around with obsession, in particular the dangerous realities it may lead to. It is here where I wished I had read Speak Memory or a biography on Nabokov, because I get a feeling of autobiographical elements in Pale Fire. There are moments that seem to parallel his own life, in regards to fleeing the Soviet Union and even teaching literature. Zembla resembles the Soviet Union but portrayed in a nostalgic way. Like Kinbote looks at the country through rose-coloured glasses, not remembering the harsh reality.

Apart from the wonderful writing style to be found in Vladimir Nabokov’s novel, you can expect to see plenty of allegories and references. One thing I love about Russian literature (and I call Nabokov a Russian simply because he was born there) is the way they often reference other novels; it is the same joy I get from reading books about books. Pale Fire is jammed packed with references from The Brothers Karamazov, A Hero of Our Time, James Joyce, Keats, Proust and even mentions Lolita. A better review could go into a lot of detail exploring the references and what they mean to the novel but I will not go into those detail.

Pale Fire is a book that will take a lifetime to read, there is so much here to explore and that is what appeals to me. The more I read from Nabokov the more I want to read, and re-read. I do feel like I need to learn more about this author before diving back into his novels. Speak Memory will be my next read from Nabokov but I am half tempted to crack open a collection of essays I have called Lectures on Russian Literature. I am excited to return to Pale Fire in the future and talk even more about the novel.

Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann

Posted December 6, 2015 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Classic / 0 Comments

Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline SusannTitle: Valley of the Dolls (Goodreads)
Author: Jacqueline Susann
Published: Time Warner Books, 1966
Pages: 467
Genres: Classic
My Copy: Paperback

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Pills! Pills will fix everything. Known as dolls, these red, yellow or green pills all serve a purpose. Although the more frequently you take them the more tolerance you build up, requiring more pills in a vicious cycle. Valley of the Dolls is a 1966 cult classic written by Jacqueline Susann, exploring the world of pop culture and Hollywood. This is a roman à clef that explores the life of three friends; Anne, Jennifer and Neely and their aspirations in life.

Jacqueline Susann is very blunt in the Valley of the Dolls and it is painfully obvious what she wants to say. This did not stop me from absolutely enjoying this novel and I found myself slowing down to stay in the world of these three woman. Susann wants to explore ideas of fame, money and even love; showing that just because you have what seems like the perfect life, does not mean it is perfect, particularly when it comes to fame. Each character seems to succeed in their perspective careers and once at the top, there is nowhere left to go but down.

Each of the three characters are different and the shifting perspectives help explore their lives. I really liked Jennifer, she was sassy and head strong. She was considered a great beauty, with big breasts and it was interesting to follow her life. She frequently becomes nothing but a pair of breasts and people often cared about nothing else about her. Anne was the more grounded character and gave a nice balance between Jennifer and Neely. I did not like Neely as a character; a big shot actress and often a difficult diva. I liked how different each character was but I did find myself wanting the sections about Neely to hurry up and end so I could move on to one of the others.

The novel deals with plenty of social issues, and we have to remember that the 1960s was a time of great political and social change. This allowed Jacqueline Susann a chance to express her opinions on sex, sexism, addiction, abortion and mental illness. At times it can be very descriptive and hard to read, especially when it comes to the sexism and slurs. I think this is an important element of the book and really allowed you to feel the negativity that these women had to struggle through.

Valley of the Dolls was such an enjoyable novel, not without its flaws but I found myself sucked into this world. I am glad to follow these three woman, through their ups and downs in life. I find myself become more of a fan of the roman à clef; which is a book about real life disguised as a piece of fiction. I know this novel gets a lot of criticism, mainly about Jacqueline Susann’s bluntness towards the social issues but I found this wonderful and so happy to finally read it.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson

Posted March 30, 2015 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Book of the Month, Classic / 2 Comments

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. ThompsonTitle: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (Goodreads)
Author: Hunter S. Thompson
Artist: Ralph Steadman
Published: Harper Perennial, 1971
Pages: 230
Genres: Classic
My Copy: Paperback

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Journalist, Raoul Duke heads to Las Vegas with his attorney Dr Gonzo in order to cover the Mint 400 motorcycle race. After experimenting with some recreational drugs, LSD, ether, cocaine, cannabis and alcohol, their assignment was quickly abandoned. What follows is a series of hallucinogenic trips that end in disaster from trashed hotel rooms, car wrecks and much more. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream is a roman à clef, with autobiographical elements in which Hunter S. Thompson writes a retrospective of the 1960s countercultural movement.

Hunter S. Thompson was a journalist, but he was best known for his novel Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. While working in Journalism he coined the term Gonzo journalism which is a writing style he adopted for his first person narratives. The style is a combination of fact and fiction that allows Thompson a more personal approach to his articles. Combining elements of sarcasm, humour, exaggeration and profanity it allowed a first person look into social criticism. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas was a result of Gonzo journalism and was originally published as a two part series in Rolling Stone magazine in 1971.

When thinking about the life of Hunter S. Thompson, I find it hard to imagine him as someone who  critiques the 1960s counterculture. I think of him saying things like “I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they’ve always worked for me.” Thompson has often stated that this novel was an exploration into the death of the American Dream but his views on counterculture are so fascinating. Drawing inspiration from his two favourite novels The Great Gatsby and On The Road, Thompson combines ideas of travelogue and the American Dream and goes on to show the reason why drug use was not the answer to social problems.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a pretty confronting novel; the descriptions of drug-induced hazes and lurid hallucinogenic trips are very vivid and confronting. I am pretty sure I have read this book in the past but I had not marked it as read on Goodreads, LibraryThing or even the spreadsheet I keep. However going into the novel everything felt so familiar and I cannot tell if it was due to the movie adaptation or if I have actually read the book before.

The experience of reading Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is enhanced by the illustrations done by Ralph Steadman. My edition of the book stated in the introduction that Hunter S. Thompson requested the art to be done by Steadman because he believed this illustrator really understood the concept of Gonzo journalism. The novel is an interesting book and well worth exploring, and I was interested to see the satirical side and surprised at the way Thompson criticised his own lifestyle in this autobiographical novel.

Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin

Posted March 22, 2015 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Classic / 0 Comments

Go Tell It on the Mountain by James BaldwinTitle: Go Tell It on the Mountain (Goodreads)
Author: James Baldwin
Narrator: Adam Lazarre-White
Published: Penguin, 1953
Pages: 256
Genres: Classic
My Copy: Audiobook

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Go Tell It on the Mountain is the first major release by James Baldwin and is a semi-autobiographical novel about growing up in Harlem. James Baldwin never knew his biological father and his stepfather was a strict Baptist minister. Go Tell It on the Mountain mainly follows the character John Grimes (who is the autobiographical character in the novel) but really shifts focus to other characters, to allow the exploration of John’s immediate family.

It took James Baldwin ten years to write Go Tell It on the Mountain and he has often stated that it was not a book he wanted to write but a book he felt he had to get out of his system before he would write anything else. This is a semi-autobiographical novel that focuses mainly of the hypocrisy within the community. James Baldwin’s stepfather was a minister and the way he acted in church was vastly different than when he was at home. He was a strict and abusive parent and this hypocrisy was evident within this novel.

However, there is so much more to this novel than just exploring how different people act when at church. Baldwin has a lot to say about the community and, while racism plays a big part within this debut novel, it was some of the other themes that interested me the most. The struggle between life and faith is a topic that I am fascinated in and while it is not the same as found in the memoir The Dark Path, this is explored in an interesting way within this novel. John Grimes had a spiritual awakening as a teenager and went onto become a preacher, however the hypocrisy he found within the church disheartened him and eventually he walked away from that life.

Yet Go Tell It on the Mountain goes a little deeper in exploring the hypocrisy of the church with subtle references to Baldwin’s sexuality. This is not explored in great detail within this book but it is a major theme in Giovanni’s Room. The way this novel explores the church life is fascinating and he shows great care for his characters; take for example John’s stepfather Gabriel, he may be hypocrite but he still requires some sympathy. He married John’s mother and raised him even if their union would be considered controversial within the church. I love how this novel plays with the religion and the way people differ between their church and home life.

This was my first James Baldwin novel but I have had the opportunity to read some of his short stories in the past. On the surface Go Tell It on the Mountain does sound like it is just focused on the hypocrisy of the church but I love the depth James Baldwin put into this book. The characters are so well crafted that even if you want to hate them you still feel a little compassion towards them. I cannot put my finger on James Baldwin’s writing style; at times it reminds me of dirty realism but all I know is that it makes me want to read more of his novels.

Tender Is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Posted January 30, 2015 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Book of the Month, Classic / 2 Comments

Tender Is the Night by F. Scott FitzgeraldTitle: Tender Is the Night (Goodreads)
Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald
Published: Vintage, 1933
Pages: 344
Genres: Classic
My Copy: Paperback

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Rosemary is a young movie scarlet on vacation in the French Rivera, with her mother. It is there that she meets the handsome psychologist Dick Diver and falls madly in love with him. The only problem is Dick is married and his wife, Nicole, a sophisticated socialite is just as lovable. While this magnetic couple draw in admirers and bask in the social spotlight, things are not as perfect as they seem. Tender is the Night is an exploration into a degenerating marriage and the differences between what people project publicly verses what is really happening under the surface.

In 1932 Zelda Fitzgerald was hospitalised for schizophrenia, although there have been huge debates since as to whether she should have been diagnosed with bi-polar disorder (if it was classified back then) instead. While Zelda was being treated at the Phipps Clinic at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, she had a burst of creativity. Over six weeks she wrote her only novel Save Me the Waltz which was published the same year. The novel was semi-autobiographical and when F. Scott Fitzgerald read it he was furious that she shared so much of their personal life within the book. Even though Scott shares a lot of their lives in his own novels, the anger may have to do with the fact he planned to use the material for his next novel Tender is the Night. It is hard to tell how much of Scott’s novel is based on real life and how much is just written in anger towards his wife, I will have to read Save Me the Waltz to make up my own mind.

While Nicole Diver is heavily based on Zelda Fitzgerald, it is up to the reader to make up their mind about Dick and if F. Scott Fitzgerald based this character on himself. I personally think there is a lot of Scott in this character and he wants to portray himself as the handsome, intelligent husband that is devoted to his wife, looking after her through her mental illness. However this is where it gets a bit passive aggressive; Tender is the Night chronicles the downward spiral of Dick Diver’s life. As the novel progresses you begin to see just how this lifestyle and his marriage effects Dick to the point where he is nothing but a shell of his former self.

There are some interesting themes worth exploring within this novel; for me I was mostly interested in the ideas of appearance and reading about F. Scott Fitzgerald’s thoughts about being married. There is such beauty within the writing, but then there is so much sadness to be found as well. I found this to be a heart-breaking novel and the fact that this is based so much on his own marriage just makes things worse. I’m planning to read Save Me the Waltz very soon, just so I can compare the two novels.

Monthly Review – July 2013

Posted July 31, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Monthly Reading / 0 Comments

This month we looked at the satirical novel and read Kurt Vonnegut’s modern classic Cat’s Cradle. This was a lot of fun for me; even though I’ve read the novel, I’m becoming a big fan of Juvenalian satire. While it might have been a little difficult for others, it is always great to go out of our comfort zones and read something great. Next month we are dipping into some non-fiction when we read Death in the Afternoon by Ernest Hemingway, considered one of the best books ever written about bullfighting.

My wife has been away for almost three weeks and in that time I thought I might have gotten a lot of reading done, but sadly this was not the case. I’ve done pretty well for myself but nothing amazing, it seems like a regular month for me; reading wise. The biggest highlight for the month would have to be A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra but I did hit rock bottom as well and read Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. I would love to know what your highlights or lowlights of the month were and even what you read this month.

My Monthly Reading

Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

Posted July 30, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Book of the Month, Science Fiction / 0 Comments

Cat’s Cradle by Kurt VonnegutTitle: Cat's Cradle (Goodreads)
Author: Kurt Vonnegut
Published: Dial Press, 1963
Pages: 287
Genres: Science Fiction
My Copy: Personal Copy

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

John (Jonah) is an everyman, he tells us about the times he planned to write a book about America and the importance of what they did the day Hiroshima was bombed. He finds himself involved with the children of Felix Hoenikker (a fictional Nobel laureate physicist and known in the book as the father of the atomic bomb). The Hoenikkers lead him to discover a crystal known as Ice-Nine, which they have kept secret and is an alternative structure of water.

Like most of Kurt Vonnegut’s books that I’ve read (with the exception of Breakfast of Champions) Cat’s Cradle is this bizarre journey that isn’t necessarily enjoyable to read but when you finish the book and reflect you start to see the brilliance. I remember with Slaughterhouse-Five when I ended the book I gave it a 2 star rating; it was just plain weird but the book never left my thoughts. I digested what I had read and began to understand and slowly that rating grew and now I think it is a work of genius.

As Cat’s Cradle begins to twist and turn in true Vonnegut style you eventually end up in the bizarre and fictitious island of San Lorenzon. The book continues with more twists until it becomes apparent that Ice-Nine can be a very destructive material. The novel is laced in  laced with irony and parody, this is part of Vonnegut’s satirical humour and you have to except that he knows what he is doing and let him take you on this journey.

What I think Kurt Vonnegut and the narrator of Cat’s Cradle is trying to tell us as readers is the discovery of Ice-Nine can truly benefit mankind but then you find a military application for it and everything changes. This is a warning, with the amazing advances in technology without any growth in an ethical awareness human annihilation is a real possibility. Vonnegut was living in the Nuclear age when this book was written, the threats felt real and it was what had most people worried. The confrontation between technology and morality is ever present within this modern classic.

But there is a parallel (but similar) message running through Cat’s Cradle as well. John is often known as Jonah in the novel and you have to think biblical for this one. Jonah is a biblical prophet that goes to Nineveh (after much drama) and tells them of their destruction. The people repent and God takes pity on them and the city is spared. A symbolic message; a cautionary warning to the readers of Jonah’s (aka John) prophetic findings that could lead to the end of the world.

In true Vonnegut form, this book will take you on an interesting ride with no possible way of predicting the outcome. The book satirises science, technology, the arms race and even organised religion in this classic post-modern sci-fi novel. It is always hard to talk about a Vonnegut book or even try to explain his literary style, but if you like a dark comedy, science fiction or satire novel then Kurt Vonnegut is always a good choice. I would recommend starting with Slaughterhouse-Five as that is probably considered his magnum opus.  Although I wasn’t a fan of Breakfast of Champions, I feel like I’m a true fan of what Vonnegut does and Cat’s Cradle is a good example of that.

Monthly Review – June 2013

Posted June 30, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Monthly Reading / 0 Comments

As we close out the first half of 2013, I thought I might give a quick update on what’s been happening with the Literary Exploration Reading Challenge. I’m really impressed with the book club’s efforts so far, with over thousand books being read by 144 participants with a 31% completion rate so far. This means we have a lot to catch up on; personally I’ve managed to complete 32 of my 36 books and almost tempted to go for another round. It’s been a lot of fun and I’m pleased to see how many people have enjoyed reading out of there comfort zone.

This month’s book club book The Dud Avocado had some really interesting reactions, not everyone liked it but it is one of the first books we read that many of us were reading for the first time. I don’t want to say too much about the book but it was fun being out of my comfort zone with the rest of the club members. It was an experience we don’t get often and I would like to experience more. Next month we return to an easier book when we read Kurt Vonnegut’s modern classic Cat’s Cradle.

I had a very quiet reading month and I’m not sure why, between everything else going on I just didn’t have the time. This has freed me out a little to try and write non review posts and I hope to have more of them in the not to distant future. I really enjoy the non review posts a lot more, I think they are more interesting and that I’ve been too review focused.

Monthly Reading

Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs

Posted June 14, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Classic / 5 Comments

Naked Lunch by William S. BurroughsTitle: Naked Lunch (Goodreads)
Author: William S. Burroughs
Published: Grove Press, 1959
Pages: 289
Genres: Classic
My Copy: Personal Copy

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

In a complex and disturbing string of events, William Lee finds himself fleeing from the police. While on the run, this drug addict finds himself journeying across the United States and into Mexico. His travels lead him into the underground world of both drug and homosexual culture. The coun
ter story revolves around the use of mind control by the government and psychiatrists to manipulate and direct the public.

Considered one of the most important novels of the twentieth century, William S. Burroughs’ Naked Lunch is a bizarre cut up narrative protesting the death penalty. You got that the book was trying to do that from the synopsis right? Naked Lunch is a non-linear narrative that does make it really difficult to summarise the plot. Burroughs is famously known for his cut-up narrative; which is a literary technique that can be traced back to the Dadaists in the 1920s. For more information about Burroughs and cut-up check out my post called William S. Burroughs & Surrealist Writing Methods.

The book looks into two key groups; the drug and homosexual subcultures. The two unite early in the novel by the narrator but are never mutually exclusive. At the start of the book William Lee believes he will be punished more harshly for his involvement in homosexual activities than using and selling illegal drugs, which is really sad to think that people are being still victimised over their sexuality and drugs have just become socially acceptable.

Then the subplot largely focuses on the way in which psychotherapy combines with the government to institute mind control. Dr Benway experiments on ways to manipulate the minds of his patients in order to further his research. With no ethical consideration, he often changes his patient’s sexual identity and then tries to cure them. He also creates a mental controlling device for the towns as a way to use the population for his sadistic experiments and put them through psychological torture. Many of these experimental towns are based on the utopian idea and Burroughs like to explore the problems with the idea in a rather sinister way.

So how is this novel a protest to the death penalty? Well that would be in the same way Jonathan Swift’s Modest Proposal ideals with economics. William S. Burroughs uses Juvenalian satire to highlight the barbaric, disgusting and anachronism of capital punishment. While the sex in Naked Lunch can be considered as mutual satisfaction sometimes, it is also used as a metaphor (especially in the more violent sexual acts) for defeating an enemy, self serving idol worshipping and capital punishment. The results of these metaphors are often confusing, shocking, taboo and sickening. Sex is a powerful tool with this novel and while it does look at sex and relationships in a positive way (rarely), the majority is used to symbolise the dark and cynical themes within the book.

William Lee is obviously William S. Burroughs alter ego and the book can be read as a semi-autobiographical novel through a serious drug addiction but like Infinite Jest there is so much more going on. This book did remind me a lot of Infinite Jest; not just with how it dealt with drug addiction but the way it used very dark themes to look at other social issues. William S. Burroughs had a similar experience to the narrator, taking trips around the world in order to avoid being arrested. Even the addition and sexual experimentation is similar to the authors own experiences, as part of his attempts to separate himself from mainstream culture. William S. Burroughs is a fascinating man and I’m interested to learn/blog more about him.

I’m not sure what the difference between the original and restored text but I did read the restored edition. While this was a really weird and somewhat difficult book to get though there is so many interesting themes to explore that I feel very satisfied by completing this novel. It is disturbing and some of it will make you feel sick to your stomach and I can understand why people hate this book. This is a really intense novel that will drain you emotionally and mentally. The book is full of violent and graphic sex, so it will never be for everyone but I can see why it is an important novel, not just because of the obscenity trial but also for all the themes.

I’ve not read many Beat novels in my life, I think On the Road was the only other one but I do like the gritty and surreal approach both books take. I’m not sure if this is a major theme for all beat novels but if so, I will have to read more. I doubt I’ll ever return to Naked Lunch simply because of how disturbing some of the scenes are but I know I can be completely satisfied with having read this one and judging by this review, I can also take comfort in the fact I was able to pick it apart and understand some of the themes.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Posted May 17, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Classic / 0 Comments

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott FitzgeraldTitle: The Great Gatsby (Goodreads)
Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald
Published: Scribner, 1925
Pages: 180
Genres: Classic
My Copy: Paperback

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Nick Carraway moves in next door to the young and mysterious millionaire, Jay Gatsby. Nick is soon following the dramas of Gatsby’s quixotic passion for Daisy Buchanan. Often hailed as the “Great American Novel”, F Scott Fitzgerald’s magnum opus is a portrait of the Jazz Age and the great American dream.

We all know the story, we’ve either been forced to read it in school or we’ve seen the movie, I wanted to reread this in the lead up the terrifying new adaptation by Baz Luhrmann. I remember reading it when I first started become a serious reader and I thought I would look at what I originally wrote and try and dissect and expand on it now that I think I’ve improved in reading critically.

First of all “One of the most interesting aspects of The Great Gatsby is the Point of View”, while this has probably been covered many times by people I will just cover this off again. Carraway tells the story of a group of destructive personalities but first you have to understand Nick before trying to understand the others.

Without going into anything controversial by claiming Nick Carraway was bisexual and in love with Jay Gatsby, let’s just say he idolised him. A Yale graduate, World War I veteran and relatively well off (inherited money), Carraway moves in next door to the charismatic and much talked about Jay Gatsby. But this leads to the question of just what is the relationship between Nick and Gatsby; is Jay using Carraway to get closer to Daisy? I think there friendship was real, Nick envied the person Jay was and he in return grew fond of Carraway.

The book does a decent job at shedding light on the egotistical, desire driven tendencies of human nature.” While this is true I think to expand on this you really need to look at what F Scott Fitzgerald was trying to do with this book, and to do that we must first look at the colour scheme (weird I know). There are two primary colours that play an essential role in this book. Firstly, green, the light over the river on the East Egg dock. The representation of Gatsby’s hopes and dreams, the green light represents the American dream. This would be considered objectification, that Gatsby believes that his American dream is to have Daisy.

The other major colour in this book is Gold or Yellow, the symbol of wealth and beauty. I think Yellow and Gold play as much of a significant role as the green light. This is true American goal; wealth and beauty, to be able to live without a care in the world. This is what I think Fitzgerald was trying to show us; like I said in my original review of this novel, these people are egotistical and desire driven and I think the author wanted us to see that. The problem with a carefree life is the fact that you don’t care about anything other than yourself and you don’t realise just how destructive that can be.

Carraway starts out starry eyed towards high society but slowly becomes more and more uncomfortable with the unrestrained materialism and lack of morality that comes with it.” I think that Carraway found himself sucked into high society and captivated by the presence of Gatsby. While in some respects he remains an outsider, he tries desperately to fit in and pursue the idea of the American Dream. The Great Gatsby tries to highlight the decline of this so called American dream, which originally was about discovery, uniqueness, and the pursuit of happiness but in the 1920s it seemed to decline and represent easy money and a social of leisure.

F. Scott Fitzgerald paints a unique literary picture of the time and life style, with interesting, snooty and slightly annoying characters.” I will admit that I sigh every time I read this sentence. Why was I the type of person that wanted likeable characters? Just because I hate these people, doesn’t mean that the book isn’t great and that they don’t have anything significant to teach. These people are supposed to be unlikeable, Fitzgerald isn’t trying to show us how great high society is; he wants to point out the flaws and what he sees as the decline of the American dream.

Everyone seems so self-absorbed and never think of each other; which helped drive the story beautifully.” We can probably argue if this really is the great American novel or even the great Jazz age novel. I know a lot of people hated this novel but I think there is so much this book can teach us and it’s less than 200 pages. F Scott Fitzgerald did a brilliant job of layering everything on top of each other that I feel the need to read this book again (already) just to see what I might pull out of it this time.

Someday I would like to do a post about motifs because there are so many recurring themes in the book, I think this would be a perfect novel to explore the idea of what a motif is. I read all the reviews from people that hate this book and I feel like I want to use that dreaded saying, “I don’t think you got what this book is trying to do”. But I hope this helps understand what this book really is about; while pointing out what you think I got wrong.

I reread this novel in anticipation of the new adaptation, which I’m scared about; I remember the old movie and think it failed to capture the true essence of this novel. This leads to two questions I want to ask the readers; “Is The Great Gatsby unfilmable?” and “Was Gatsby truly great?”.  I know my answers, so I’ll be interested to see what others think. I’m surprised how much fun I had dissecting my original thoughts and expanding on them.