ENGL1001 – American Literature
F. Scott Fitzgerald – The Great
Gatsby (1926)
Dr. John Masterson
3rd Lecture
July-August 2011
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The Great Gatsby
• P.32 - “so everything that happened has a dim,
hazy cast over it, although until eight o’clock
the apartment was full of cheerful sun.”
• P.37 – “I was within and without,
simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the
inexhaustible variety of life.”
The Second Sentence of The Great
Gatsby
• Mr. Carraway’s advice to his son, Nick
–
“ ‘Whenever you feel like criticizing
anyone … just remember that all the
people in this world haven’t had the
advantages that you’ve had.’”
A.E. Dyson, ‘The Great Gatsby – 36
Years After’
• “Carraway is the one middle-class character in
the novel – vaguely at home in the worlds
both of Daisy and Myrtle, but belonging to
neither, and so able to see and judge both
very clearly. He is conscious of “advantages”
of moral education that enable him to see
through false romanticisms to their underlying
insincerity, and savour their bitter ironies.”
George W. Bush
The Great Gatsby, p.26
• “About half way between West Egg and New York the
motor road hastily joins the railroad and runs beside it
for a quarter of a mile, so as to shrink away from a
certain desolate area of land. This is a valley of ashes –
a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into
ridges and hills and grotesque gardens; where ashes
take the forms of houses and chimneys and rising
smoke and, finally, with a transcendent effort, of ashgrey men, who move dimly and already crumbling
through the powdery air. Occasionally a line of grey
cars crawls along an invisible track, gives out a ghastly
creak, and comes to rest, and immediately the ash-grey
men swarm up with leaden spades and stir up an
impenetrable cloud, which screens their obscure
operations from your sight.”
The Great Gatsby, p.26
• “About half way between West Egg and New York the
motor road hastily joins the railroad and runs beside it
for a quarter of a mile, so as to shrink away from a
certain desolate area of land. This is a valley of ashes –
a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into
ridges and hills and grotesque gardens; where ashes
take the forms of houses and chimneys and rising
smoke and, finally, with a transcendent effort, of ashgrey men, who move dimly and already crumbling
through the powdery air. Occasionally a line of grey
cars crawls along an invisible track, gives out a ghastly
creak, and comes to rest, and immediately the ash-grey
men swarm up with leaden spades and stir up an
impenetrable cloud, which screens their obscure
operations from your sight.”
Edwin Fussell, ‘Fitzgerald’s Brave New
World’
• “the two dreams are … so intimately related as
to be for all practical purposes one: the
appearance of eternal youth and beauty
centers in a particular social class whose
glamour is made possible by social inequality
and inequity. Beauty, the presumed object of
aesthetic contemplation, is commercialized,
love is bought and sold. Money is the means
to the violent recovery or specious arrest of an
enchanting youth.”
Edwin Fussell, ‘Fitzgerald’s Brave New World’
• “Fitzgerald repeatedly affirms his faith in an older,
simpler America, generally identified as pre-Civil War;
the emotion is that of pastoral, the social connotations
agrarian and democratic. In such areas he continues to
find fragments of basic human value, social, moral and
religious. But these affirmations are for the most part
subordinate and indirect; Fitzgerald’s attention was
chiefly directed upon the merchandise of romantic
wonder proffered by his own time and place. Like the
narrator in Gatsby, he was always “within and without,
simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the
inexhaustible variety of life.” Through a delicate and
exact imagery, he was able to extend this attitude of
simultaneous enchantment and repulsion over the
whole of the American civilization he knew.”
An Archetypal Scene of the American Mid-West
The New York Skyline in the 1920s
OED Definition
• ambivalence
• Noun - [mass noun]
• the state of having mixed feelings
or contradictory ideas about
something or someone
Jordan Baker, The Great Gatsby,
Chapter 1
•“ ‘I’m stiff … I’ve been
lying on that sofa for
as long as I can
remember.’”
Exchange between Jordan Baker and Daisy
Buchanan, The Great Gatsby, Chapter 1
• “We ought to plan something,’
yawned Miss Baker, sitting down at
the table as if she were getting into
bed.
• ‘All right,’ said Daisy. ‘What’ll we
plan?’ She turned to me helplessly:
‘What do people plan?’
The Great Gatsby, Chapter 7
• “We had luncheon in the dining room, darkened
too against the heat, and drank down nervous
gaiety with the cold ale.”
• “What’ll we do with ourselves this afternoon? ...
and the day after that, and the next thirty years?’
‘Don’t be morbid,’ Jordan said. ‘Life starts all over
again when it gets crisp in the fall.’
‘But it’s so hot,’ insisted Daisy, on the verge of tears,
‘and everything’s so confused. Let’s all go to
town.’”
The Great Gatsby, Chapter 1
• “Why [the Buchanans] came East I don’t know.
They had spent a year in France for no
particular reason, and then drifted here and
there unrestfully wherever people played polo
and were rich together. This was a permanent
move, said Daisy over the telephone, but I
didn’t believe it – I had no sight into Daisy’s
heart, but I felt that Tom would drift on
forever seeking, a little wistfully, for the
dramatic turbulence of some irrecoverable
football game.”
Nick’s comment on Tom Buchanan,
The Great Gatsby, Chapter 1
• “one of those men who reach
such an acute limited
excellence at twenty-one that
everything afterward savours
of anti-climax.”
The All-American Hero?
OED Definition
• Irrecoverable
• adjective
• not able to be recovered,
regained, or remedied: his
liquid assets had to be written
off as irrecoverable
The Great Gatsby, Chapter 9 (the final
chapter)
• “I see now that this has been a story
of the West, after all – Tom and
Gatsby, Daisy and Jordan and I, were
all Westerners, and perhaps we
possessed some deficiency in
common which made us subtly
unadaptable to Eastern life.”
Image of the American Prairie
Lionel Trilling, ‘F. Scott Fitzgerald’
(1945)
• “Gatsby is said by some to be not quite
credible, but the question of any literal
credibility he may or may not have
becomes trivial before the large significance
he implies. For Gatsby, divided between
power and dream, comes inevitably to
stand for America itself. Ours is the only
nation that prides itself upon a dream and
gives its name to one, “the American
dream.”
Marius Bewley, ‘Scott Fitzgerald’s Criticism of
America’ (1954)
• “The Great Gatsby embodies a criticism of
American experience ... The theme of Gatsby
is the withering of the American dream ... The
Great Gatsby is an exploration of the
American dream as it exists in a corrupt
period, and it is an attempt to determine that
concealed boundary that divides the reality
from the illusions. The illusions seem more
real than the reality itself.”
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ENGL1001 – American Literature – Gatsby Presentation