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Old 08-19-2014, 09:47 PM
 
3,420 posts, read 3,282,891 times
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In a New Yorker movie review, it began with talking about how the novel The Great Gatsby was received, and how it failed to rescue Fitzgerald's career. Sad - but interesting.



When “The Great Gatsby” was published, on April 10, 1925, F. Scott Fitzgerald, living high in France after his early success, cabled Max Perkins, his editor at Scribners, and demanded to know if the news was good. Mostly, it was not. The book received some reviews that were dismissive (“F. SCOTT FITZGERALD’S LATEST A DUD,” a headline in the New York World ran) and others that were pleasant but patronizing. Fitzgerald later complained to his friend Edmund Wilson that “of all the reviews, even the most enthusiastic, not one had the slightest idea what the book was about.” For a writer of Fitzgerald’s fame, sales were mediocre—about twenty thousand copies by the end of the year. Scribners did a second printing, of three thousand copies, but that was it, and when Fitzgerald died, in 1940, half-forgotten at the age of forty-four, the book was hard to find.

The tale of Fitzgerald’s woeful stumbles—no great writer ever hit the skids so publicly—is suffused with varying shades of irony, both forlorn and triumphal. Fitzgerald was an alcoholic, and no doubt his health would have declined, whatever the commercial fate of his masterpiece. But he was a writer who needed recognition and money as much as booze, and if “Gatsby” had sold well it would likely have saved him from the lacerating public confessions of failure that he made in the nineteen-thirties, or, at least, would have kept him away from Hollywood. (He did get a fascinating, half-finished novel, “The Last Tycoon,” out of the place, but his talents as a screenwriter were too fine-grained for M-G-M.) At the same time, the initial failure of “Gatsby” has yielded an astounding coda: the U.S. trade-paperback edition of the book currently sells half a million copies a year. Jay Gatsby “sprang from his Platonic conception of himself,” and his exuberant ambitions and his abrupt tragedy have merged with the story of America, in its self-creation and its failures. The strong, delicate, poetically resonant text has become a kind of national scripture, recited happily or mournfully, as the occasion requires.

In 1925, Fitzgerald sent copies of “Gatsby” to Edith Wharton, Gertrude Stein, and T. S. Eliot, who wrote thank-you notes that served to canonize the book when Wilson reprinted them, in “The Crack-Up” (1945), a miscellany of Fitzgerald’s writing and letters. All three let the young author know that he had done something that defined modernity. Edith Wharton praised the scene early in the novel when the coarsely philandering Tom Buchanan takes Nick Carraway—the shy young man who narrates the story—to an apartment he keeps for his mistress, Myrtle, in Washington Heights. Wharton described the scene as a “seedy orgy.” With its stupid remarks leading nowhere, its noisy, trivial self-dramatization, the little gathering marks a collapse of the standards of social conduct. In its acrid way, the episode is satirical, but an abyss slowly opens. Some small expectation of grace has vanished.


This is the review:
All That Jazz - The New Yorker
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Old 08-19-2014, 11:13 PM
 
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Let us now praise famous men. Some writers are just a little ahead of their time. Or perhaps can 'see' what others don't want to see.
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Old 08-21-2014, 12:51 AM
 
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I love this book, but sadly when we read it for my book club (I read it at least once a year)so many didn't like it. The reason? they thought it was sad. It's not your typical everything turns our okay in the end. Rather there are three dead (Myrtle Wilson, Tom's mistress; Tom Wilson, her husband; and Gatsby himself. Lives are changed, such as Nick, Daisy and others. No happy ending where Gatsby ends up with Daisy. To me it's a metaphor for its time, in that the roaring 20's in theory seemed like fun but there was a dark side. Let's not forget one of the minor themes which was many aren't true friends and this is evidenced by the lack of people at Gatsby's funeral.
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Old 08-21-2014, 07:55 PM
 
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For sure Fitzgerald was a great reporter of his time. He had it nailed. He says of that exceptionally hedonistic time:

'In any case, the Jazz Age now raced along under its own power , served by great filling stations full of money...it was borrowed time anyhow- the whole upper tenth of a nation living with the insouciance of grand dukes and the casualness of chorus girls'.

Really his 'Great Gatsby' exposed the American trauma of pursuing money, sex and power during those heady times where wealth was where it was it. And as his book showed It destroyed many on its altars.
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Old 08-31-2014, 01:14 PM
 
Location: So Ca
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"...those words, and the few hundred others that follow as the novel reaches its end, seem to me now -- eight decades after that imagined first reading -- the most beautiful, compelling and true in all of American literature. Each reading of them is a revelation and a gift. If from all of our country's books I could have only one, "The Great Gatsby" would be it."
JONATHAN YARDLEY - 'Gatsby': The Greatest Of Them All
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Old 09-02-2014, 06:48 AM
 
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A fine essay on Fitzgerald and his greatest work. Fitzgerald had a great gift of outting words on paper. His mind sure could weave great ideas in his sentences. And those cadences in the sentences...beautiful and riveting.
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