THE GREAT GATSBY
In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.
“Whenever you feel like criticising any one,” he told me, “just remember that all people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”
He didn’t say any more, but we’ve always been unusually communicative in a reserved way, and I understood that he meant a great deal more than that. In consequence, I’m inclined to reserve all judgments, a habit that has opened up many curious natures to me and also made me the victim of not a few veteran bores. The abnormal mind is quick to detect and attach itself to this quality when it appears in a normal person, and so it came about that in college I was unjustly accused of being a politician, because I was privy to the secret griefs of wild, unknown men. Most of the confidences were unsought – frequently I have feigned sleep, preoccupation, or a hostile levity when I realized by some unmistakable sign that an intimate revelation was quivering on the horizon; for the intimate revelations of young men, or at least the terms in which they express them, are usually plagiaristic and marred by obvious suppressions. Reserving judgments is a matter of infinite hope. I am still a little afraid of missing something if I forget that, as my father snobbishly suggested,, and I snobbishly repeat, a sense of the fundamental decencies is parcelled out unequally at birth.
And, after boasting this way of my tolerance, I come to the admission that it has a limit. Conduct may be found on the hard rock or the wet marshes, but after a certain point I don’t care what it’s founded on. When I came back from the East last autumn I felt that I wanted the world to be in uniform and at a sort of moral attention forever; I wanted no more riotous excursions with privileged glimpses into the human heart. Only Gatsby, the man who give his name to this book, was exempt from my reaction – Gatsby, who represented everything for which I have an unaffected scorn. If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him, some heightened sensitivity to the promises of life, as if her were related to one of those intricate machines that register earthquakes ten thousand miles away. This responsiveness had nothing to do with that flabby impressionability which is dignified under the name of the “creative temperament” – it was an extraordinary gift for hope, a romantic readiness such as I have never found in any other person and which it is not likely I shall ever find again. No – Gatsby turned out all right at the end; it is what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the wake of his dreams that temporarily closed out my interest in the abortive sorrows and short-winded elations of men.
I know this was a rather long book beginning to feature, but I wanted Gatsby mentioned, and most of this narrative is used in the beginning of the classic 1974 movie version of The Great Gatsby, starring Robert Redford, Mia Farrow, Bruce Dern (who I once met) and Sam Waterston.
Here again, is another movie that lives up to the original literary achievement. (Don’t even mention that version that was put out about 15 years ago or so…whatever, it cannot compare to this one). A new movie of The Great Gatsby is in production right now set to star Leonardo DiCaprio as Gatsby and Carry Mulligan as Daisy. I do have hope for this one, and can’t wait to see it. In the meantime, Rob and Mia are the icons of this book of literature, which is by the way, one of the best reads ever! Download it on that Kindle when you can!
note: There are spelling “errors” in the excerpt above that are part of the F. Scott Fitzgerald’s original text which I’ve kept in with accuracy. Originally published in 1925 by Charles Scribner’s Sons.