October 1, 2010

The Great Gatsby Revisited

Category: artifizz,writingartifizz admin @ 9:32 am
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The Great Gatsby -- original cover image

1st edition cover -- Francis Cugat

Here’s an excerpt from the original review of “The Great Gatsby” that ran in the NY Times April 19, 1925:

At the Buchanans Nick met Jordan Baker; through them both Daisy again meets Gatsby, to whom she had been engaged before she married Buchanan. The inevitable consequence that follows, in which violence takes its toll, is almost incidental, for in the overtones-and this is a book of potent overtones-the decay of souls is more tragic. With sensitive insight and keen psychological observation, Fitzgerald discloses in these people a meanness of spirit, carelessness and absence of loyalties. He cannot hate them, for they are dumb in their insensate selfishness, and only to be pitied. The philosopher of the flapper has escaped the mordant, but he has turned grave. A curious book, a mystical, glamourous story of today. It takes a deeper cut at life than hitherto has been enjoyed by Mr. Fitzgerald. He writes well-he always has-for he writes naturally, and his sense of form is becoming perfected.

If you like the book, you should read the whole review. But what struck me about this section is how easily it could describe the investment bankers, private equity raiders, and hedge fund managers of today. They are lost and don’t know the way back.

Art would be one place to start. Its foreignness forces you to see the things you might not want to see. Art reveal the true state of your soul better than a long look in the mirror.

Maybe some of these folks should read, or re-read, Gatsby.