Charlotte Reads Classics

Slowly, slowly, she sipped a sentence.

Tag: F. Scott Fitzgerald

A Single Green Light, Minute and Far Away

9780192832696

And as I sat there brooding on the old, unknown world, I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it.

This is everything that is amazing about The Great Gatsby. I first read it in high school and haven’t picked it up since, but I always remembered how this one little light could come to represent all hope, nostalgia, melancholy and loss all at once. How remarkable is that?

Nick Carraway compares Gatsby’s dream of Daisy from across the dock to the Dutch sailors that sailed towards the New World. A dream that was close enough to see but completely unattainable. I love the comparison between Gatsby’s all-consuming quest for wealth and status with the explorers. They saw some green, virgin earth but that only existed in their minds: The land had a history all of its own, just like Daisy has in the years Gatsby has been away creating himself. You can’t colonise innocently, just like you can’t achieve dreams that reinvent the past. Gatsby managed to reinvent himself, but he could never undo his own history.

There must have been moments even that afternoon when Daisy tumbled short of his dreams – not through her own fault, but because of the colossal vitality of his illusion. It had gone beyond her, beyond everything. [...] No amount of fire or freshness can challenge what a man can store up in his ghostly heart.

Whist the force of Gatsby’s dreams is at times superhuman, Fitzgerald’s book is based around the incredibly human trait of never being satisfied and how that fits into the American ideal if you work had you can achieve anything.

The book is very firmly of the twenties but is timeless all the same. You can be seduced by these amazing parties which on the outside are dazzling and the people are witty with cocktails in hand, but getting closer it turns out nobody is really enjoying themselves. They are all racing, all the time, against each other to get more – to say more, to see more, to have more. No amount of glitter can hide the ugliness underneath. Is history on a loop? Did we ever learn from Gatsby?

I really enjoyed reading The Great Gatsby again because I had the luxury or reading with the intention of looking for the green light. The story was as good as I remembered from all those years ago but I had forgotten how slim a book it is. Surely a testament to Fitzgerald’s writing: He  says exactly enough in exactly the right words.

Christmas Books

Merry Christmas!

Beautiful. DAMNED.

The Beautiful and Damned, F. Scott Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald’s second novel takes New York’s jazz age as the backdrop for an intimate portrait of a young marriage. Anthony Patch falls in love with Gloria Gilbert, and settles into a life rumoured to have been similar to the Fitzgerald’ own marriage. The couple have to navigate the fall from roaring twenties to the war time and depression of the 1930s, whilst struggling to maintain their decadent and alcoholic wilting aristocratic status. Glamour turned sour, this is a real gem.

Quotable Fitzgerald

“I did not think – I was a battle-ground for the thoughts of many men.”

“All that was left of the beautiful Gloria Gilbert – her shell, her young and lovely body – moved up the broad marble steps of the Grand Central Station with the rhythm of the engine beating in her ears like a dream.”

- F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Beautiful and Damned

Bilphism

Bilphism (noun) : The name used and coined by F. Scott Fitzgerald in his 1922 novel The Beautiful and the Damned, referring to a religious belief concerned with the reincarnation of the human soul.

” ‘Oh, yes, but you see Bilphism isn’t a religion. It’s the science of all religions.’ ” —F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Beautiful and Damned, 1922

Need it.

New penguin designs for F. Scott Fitzgerald. LOVELY.

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