Friday, July 16, 2021

Gatsby everywhere

As I read Richard Russo's The Destiny Thief and listen to Richard Ford's interviews on Youtube, I am thrilled and in awe of how much Gatbsy is mentioned as an example, how he has pervaded writers' minds. How often people recall him. He is readily on everyone's lips, not far away into the corners of one's mind. And that my dear, is iconic status, that Gatbsy has achieved by his own right, not anyone else trying their best to popularize him. I've not heard of a single Faulkner hero or a Flannery heroine though their quotes are mentioend. I've not heard of Huck Finn or Tom Sawyer pervading one's consciousness as much as Gatsby has. 

And to that, I remove my hat and take a deep bow to F Scott Fitzgerald, the one and only, who died in obscurity and infamy and poverty during his last days. So did all the other writers. The joy is only during the act of writing. And though his life ended the way it did, I take solace and infinite joy in the fact that he thoroughly knew what he was writing and what he was producing, a one of a kind novel, and it is sad that with a twist of fate, things didn't work out for him and his life ended in a tragedy. But what I am saying is, no one could have taken the joy out of him, while he did this. and the knowledge when no one knew it was good, he knew it, he believed in his work and his ability as a master craftsman and to that I take a bow. 

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Wesley Morris on The Great Gatsby

 Excerpt from the following article :

Each time, its fineness announces itself on two fronts. First, as writing. Were you to lay this thing out by the sentence, it’d be as close as an array of words could get to strands of pearls. “The cab stopped at one slice in a long white cake of apartment-houses”? That line alone is almost enough to make me quit typing for the rest of my life.

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Gatsby and the past

It was just a line for me from the book, for which he received a lot of flack, mainly from Nick of course. Until it dawned on me that aren't we all, in one way or another, in some sense or another, trying to repeat the past?
If Gatsby is at fault for wanting to recreate the past, so are we.
We shop the same loaf of bread, go to the same coffee shop, wear the same brand of clothes, and when we do, we are hoping to recreate the same wonderment and comfort that we once enjoyed in our past - we want to bring the past into our present and guarantee it in the future.
We are in love with the past that we have loved, and that is all we are trying to do, holding on to our past, holding on to our childhood memories, why are some of our best friends, from our past? they have lived through the same era, grown up in the same surroundings, and they know us more than anyone from the present can.
And once we have put fifteen years from the present, they become our old friends we recreate from our recent past, our children's friends' parents become our past, once our kids have graduated, and so we move on, boats against the current, beating ceaselessly into our past ...

The following is an excerpt from The Great Gatsby

“I stayed late that night. Gatsby asked me to wait until he was free and I lingered in the garden until the inevitable swimming party had run up, chilled and exalted, from the black beach, until the lights were extinguished in the guest rooms overhead. When he came down the steps at last the tanned skin was drawn unusually tight on his face, and his eyes were bright and tired.
‘She didn’t like it,’ he said immediately.
‘Of course she did.’
‘She didn’t like it,’ he insisted. ‘She didn’t have a good time.’
He was silent and I guessed at his unutterable depression.
‘I feel far away from her,’ he said. ‘It’s hard to make her understand.’
‘You mean about the dance?’
‘The dance?’ He dismissed all the dances he had given with a snap of his fingers. ‘Old sport, the dance is unimportant.’

He wanted nothing less of Daisy than that she should go to Tom and say: ‘I never loved you.’ After she had obliterated three years with that sentence they could decide upon the more practical measures to be taken. One of them was that, after she was free, they were to go back to Louisville and be married from her house — just as if it were five years ago.
‘And she doesn’t understand,’ he said. ‘She used to be able to understand. We’d sit for hours — — ‘
He broke off and began to walk up and down a desolate path of fruit rinds and discarded favors and crushed flowers.
‘I wouldn’t ask too much of her,’ I ventured. ‘You can’t repeat the past.’
‘Can’t repeat the past?’ he cried incredulously. ‘Why of course you can!’

He looked around him wildly, as if the past were lurking here in the shadow of his house, just out of reach of his hand.
‘I’m going to fix everything just the way it was before,’ he said, nodding determinedly. ‘She’ll see.’

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Do you have that one person ?

Do you have that one person who makes you want to write well ?

That one person - by just reading his prose, pearls start spilling from your fingertips.

Whom you can go back to again, and again, and he makes you feel as special as the day you had met him and takes you back in and gives you all that feeling and the same gifts of writing he had endowed you with from the beginning of time?

Do you have that one person who made you want to be a writer ?

Whom you cry for in the middle of the night and the middle of the day and who you can love so totally because he can never hurt you, he can only comfort you and rock you with the words that tumbled from his mind.

And for which you thank him that he left you all these words, words to wash over you and calm you and come to your rescue when you need them and when you don't ?

Do you have that one person ?

Matt Ward on Scott.

This one article sent me right back to Scott.

I have been not indulging in Scott for a while, and hence this review was like coming home to the same comfort you found once and at the beginning. 

Friday, March 19, 2021

Dorothy Parker's interview with The Paris Review

I really wish they could write the year they interviewed the writers. Maybe I could email them and ask them. 

But anyway this book was published in 1959. 

She mentions Scott twice. I don't think she ever mentioned anybody twice. That is the mark Scott left on people. 
Interviewer : What was it about the twenties that inspired people like yourself and Broun?

Parker: Gertrude Stein did us the most harm when she said, 'you're all a lost generation.' That got around to certain people and we all said 'whee, we're lost.' Perhaps it suddenly brought to us the sense of change. Or irresponsibility. But don't forget that, though the people in the twenties seemed like flops, they weren't. Fitzgerald, the rest of them, reckless as they were, drinkers as they were, they worked damn hard and all the time. 

Interviewer: Then what is it that's the evil in Hollywood?

It's the people. Like the director who put his finger in Scott Fitzgerald's face and complained, 'Pay you? Why, you ought to pay us.' It was terrible about Scott; if you'd seen him you'd have been sick. When he died no one went to the funeral, not a single soul came or even sent a flower.
I said. 'Poor son of a bitch,' a quote right out of The Great Gatsby, and everyone thought it was another wisecrack. But it was said in dead seriousness. Sickening about Scott. And it wasn't only the people, but also the indefinite to which your ability was put. There was a picture in which Mr. Benchley had a part. In it Monty Woolley had a scene in which he had to enter a room through a door on which was balanced a bucket of water. He came into the room covered with water and uttered to Mr. Benchley, who had a part in the scene, 'Benchley? Benchley of Harvard?' 'Yes,' mumbled Mr. Benchley and he asked, 'Woolley, Woolley of Yale?'

Monday, February 22, 2021

So you read The Great Gatsby. What Next?

For Further Study

Bloom, Harold, ed. F. Scott Fitzgerald's 'The Great Gatsby': Modern Critical Interpretations. Chelsea House, 1986. This book contains eight articles, with an introduction, on the novel's structure, Gatsby as an “American” novel, and the wasteland, and includes the article by David Parker, "Two Versions of the Hero.” Bloom, Harold, ed. Gatsby, Major Literary Characters Series. Chelsea House, 1991. This comprehensive collection of articles focusing on the novel's “hero,” Gatsby, begins with 25 critical extracts on the character and the author from letters, reviews, and articles. Of particular interest is the article by Arnold Weinstein, 

“Fiction as Greatness: The Case of Gatsby” (1985), which reads the novel as being about making meaning, or creating belief. This includes both Gatsby's fiction of himself and Nick's story of this. The collection also includes an important early article on the time theme by R. W. Stallman, “Gatsby and the  Hole in Time” (1955).

Bruce, M. J., ed. New Essays on 'The Great Gatsby'. Cambridge University Press, 1985. This shorter work (five articles with an introduction) also includes an interesting overview of the novel's impact on fiction and criticism over the decades, “Gatsby's Long Shadow: Influence and Endurance," by Richard Anderson.

Cass, Colin S. “‘Pandered in Whispers’: Narrative Reliability in The Great Gatsby,” in College Literature, Vol. 7, 1980, pp. 113-24. Investigates the role of narrator Nick Carraway in the novel and his reliability as the Bibliography and Further Reading 123 narrator of events.

Crosland, A.T. A Concordance to F. Scott Fitzgerald's ‘The Great Gatsby’. Gale, 1975. The concordance provides cross-referenced lists of every word in the novel, assisting in consideration of the use and frequency of certain words or word-groups (such as “eye,” “blind,” “see,” “blink,” “wink,” and the famous accidental use of “irises,” for example).

Donaldson, Scott, ed. Critical Essays on F. Scott Fitzgerald's ‘The Great Gatsby’. G. K. Hall, 1984. This balanced survey of critical issues (21 essays with an introduction, and excerpts from letters to and from Fitzgerald about the novel) contains some of the now-classic articles or chapters from other books. It features treatments of sources for the novel, the novel's complicated revisions in its composition, and the historical aspect of the work.

Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby, edited by Matthew J. Bruccoli. Cambridge University Press, 1991. Bruccoli's critical edition of the novel contains the useful “apparatus” (notes keyed to page numbers in the novel) which had been published separately in 1974, when the novel was still under copyright protection. This edition now explains many of the novel's more obscure references, and points to some of its infamous inconsistencies (the age of Daisy Fay's daughter, for instance). Bruccoli himself is perhaps the most prolific of Fitzgerald's biographers and critics, and has also edited numerous editions of Fitzgerald's correspondence, manuscript facsimiles, notebooks, and even accounts ledgers.

Fitzgerald-Hemingway Annual, various years. This yearly periodical devotes itself to the works of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway.

Kazin, Alfred. F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Man and His Work. Twayne, 1951. This collection of essays on the author's literature is considered to be one of the best single volumes of criticism on Fitzgerald. Arranged chronologically, the material ranges from early reviews of the first novel through other critical reactions to Fitzgerald.

Lockridge, Ernest, ed. Twentieth-Century Interpretations of ‘The Great Gatsby’: A Collection of Critical Essays. Prentice Hall, 1968. An earlier collection of seven articles and nine brief “View Points” on the novel, briefly encapsulating a range of different approaches to the novel.

Malin, Irving. “‘Absolution’: Absolving Lies,” in The Short Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald: New Approaches in Criticism, edited by Jackson Bryer. University of Wisconsin Press, 1982. This article links the ideas of the short story with The Great Gatsby. The author demonstrates how Fitzgerald is, to some extent, a religious writer.

Mellow, James R. Invented Lives. Houghton Mifflin, 1984. This is a full portrait of Fitzgerald, his hunger for fame, his destructive marriage, and a backward look to an era that continues to dazzle us with its variety and intrigue.

Tuttleton, James. The Novel of Manners. Norton, 1972. The book offers a revealing perspective on Fitzgerald's ability to identify social and cultural manners in the 1920s American society. Reference is made to Henry James and other writers' works.

Friday, February 19, 2021

What do you read after you have read and been thrilled by The Great Gatsby?

What Do I Read Next?

The Twenties by Edmund Wilson, one of Fitzgerald's friends at Princeton University and his entire life, is an interesting introduction to the decade and to the many cultural figures in America at that time. Another book by Wilson that chronicles the Twenties and Thirties is The Shores of Light, 1952. Personal impressions, sketches, letters, satires, and pieces on the classics of American literature are included in this book

Heart of Darkness (1899) by Joseph Conrad was a literary favorite of Fitzgerald, who used the Polish author's narrative technique in The Great Gatsby. The short novel is the story of the civilized Mr. Kurtz, who travels to the savage heart of Africa, only to find his evil soul.

Citizen Kane, Orson Welles's legendary 1941 film, is about a mogul who acquires tremendous
financial success but finds that the true source of his happiness is a childhood memory of “Rosebud.” Once again, the true values of gains and losses are examined in this well-known classic.

Six Tales of the Jazz Age and Other Stories F. Scott Fitzgerald 1922. This is the author's second collection of short stories, the most notable of which is “The Diamond as Big as the Ritz.” The recurrent theme of fantasy and winning the top girl and financial success is central to this and other stories.

Great Expectations (1861) by Charles Dickens tells of a grim childhood and an orphan's encounter with wealth and lost love in England during the Victorian era. In its realistic mode, one can find a number of differences between this story and Fitzgerald's, yet striking similarities as well, in regard to dreams and human relationships.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Dave Page won’t let us forget F. Scott Fitzgerald

 “It’s hard to keep his memory alive in a certain way. There’s a lot of superficial stuff that gets associated with him, and everyone has a story about some bar that he signed. Yes, he was a drunk. But he was so much more than that,” says Page, who teaches Fitzgerald’s work at Inver Grove Community College, and is part of Fitzgerald in St. Paul, a newly formed organization that is working to keep the writer’s legacy alive in his birthplace.

“In his day, Fitzgerald was phenomenally successful. He was in the top 1 percent in terms of income, during the Great Depression. Everyone knew his work, although he made a great deal of that money writing for Hollywood. He made a deep impression on the culture, so it’s important we don’t forget him or his world,” says Page, who says his students appreciate the ways this seemingly old-fashioned writer understood the essence of youth. “He really took young people seriously. A lot of his stories show that. And this book shows that his own youth, despite all that followed, was happy.”

Excerpts from this link


Saturday, January 16, 2021

Why Do We Keep Reading The Great Gatsby?

This is how I am feeling about seeing Gatsby everywhere 

There is a glut out there, of Gatsby now
It makes me sick, let me tell you how?

To read about his works
where beauty intersects
It fills me with nostalgia,
it fills me with dread
to chance upon one more page
talking about Scott and yet
he is not here to digest.

Why doesn't the world appreciate
when its words most count
Wolfsheim knew it then
when alive, treat them right

Give them their due, and their place
stop praising them behind their back
that is what my children tell me too
you always pinpoint things we don't do 

And from Gatsby the one thing I learned
is to love my people without restraint
their sins cannot hold me back 
nor will their show
if my heart is already theirs
nothing can stop me from saying so. 

Love your people, give them a hug
you never know, that is all they crave
we know about Fitzgerald so much 
only through his letters 
not that he put his heart on display
well, ok also when he cracked up.

so let's not make twice the same mistake
go into your lovers' hearts and listen
what it is that they after all want.
it's your approval and love which doesn't cost a thing,
maybe a smile and a hug, or an email. 

Friday, January 15, 2021

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Gatsby loves you back.

 "Gatsby drew me in like that. Maybe some of you have fallen hard and fast in love, and you know it is a heady and wonderful feeling, vertigo, breathlessness. You lose weight. Your skin becomes effervescent, as if parts of you could twinkle off. You feel dangerous and endangered. At first that danger is part of the giddy wonder of it, but soon you find yourself on your guard. You wonder what you have missed mid-swoon. What surprise lurks for you (disgusting personal habit, unforgivable character flaw) that you could not predict and have had no time to discover for yourself? Falling into the world of a classic book (or even a contemporary one) gives me that loving feeling, both exhilarated and immediately wary.

However swept up and away I may be, I can’t help but fear that the door of the book will suddenly close in my face by excluding or demeaning people of color, women, the poor; that it will announce directly or indirectly that I am not the target, not even a member of the desired audience, that the story was not written for me."

The above is an excerpt from this awesomely delicious article on the Gatsby by an equally awesome Stephanie Powell

Gatsby sweeps the internet

Generously collected by Bill Sowder

Nick is GAY and In Love with Gatsby:
Reconsidering the American Myth of a Distant Paradise:
Excerpts from the graphic novel:
A Dreamer Doomed to Be Excluded – Jesmyn Ward Explains:
An Amateur Filmmaker takes on Gatsby and the Scholars:
Bobbie Ann Mason on First Love, Gatsby et al:
F S F: What I Think and Feel at 25:
Trumplandia and the Rise of “Careless People”:
Google Slides Introduction to the Age:
On the copyright expiring and the book’s enduring legacy:

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Scott and the Jews

Not to be missed - Music Extravaganza Of The Great Gatsby - 12 - 14 February.

This is why we read the Great Gatsby again and again

Dear Reader, 

Why do we read the Gatsby again and again?

For me,
it is the sentences that bring me back, the beauty, the poignancy of it all, 
it is Gatsby and his heartache and his chase with this woman who refuses to give her all
it is Nick and his earnestness and self-proclaimed righteousness and his voice and his love for Gatsby
it is never for Jordan
it is for Daisy, the beautiful, vengeful, coquettish, the wistful and artful creature that she is. 
and it is for Fitzgerald - for the wistfulness that any of his words bring, that his life was any different and the impossibility of it and the sadness of it and the beauty of it, all mixed into a powerful concoction of emotions

Why do you read Gatsby again and again? Let us know ?

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Dedication by Edmund Wilson


Scott, your last fragments I arrange tonight,
Assigning commas, setting accents right,
As once I punctuated, spelled and trimmed
When, passing in a Princeton spring—how dimmed
By this damned quarter-century and more!—
You left your Shadow Laurels at my door.
That was a drama webbed of dreams: the scene
A shimmering beglamored bluish-green
Soiled Paris wineshop; the sad hero one
Who loved applause but had his life alone;
Who fed on drink for weeks; forgot to eat,
“Worked feverishly,” nourished on defeat
A lyric pride, and lent a lyric voice
To all the tongueless knavish tavern boys,
The liquor-ridden, the illiterate;
Got stabbed one midnight by a tavern-mate—
Betrayed, but self-betrayed by stealthy sins—
And faded to the sound of violins.

Tonight, in this dark long Atlantic gale,
I set in order such another tale,
While tons of wind that take the world for scope
Rock blackened waters where marauders grope
Our blue and bathed-in Massachusetts ocean;
The Cape shakes with the depth-bomb’s dumbed concussion;
And guns can interrupt me in these rooms,
Where now I seek to breathe again the fumes
Of iridescent drinking-dens, retrace
The bright hotels, regain the eager pace
You tell of… Scott, the bright hotels turn bleak;
The pace limps or stamps; the wines are weak;
The horns and violins come faint tonight.
A rim of darkness that devours light
Runs like the wall of flame that eats the land;
Blood, brain and labor pour into the sand;
And here, among our comrades of the trade,
Some buzz like husks, some stammer, much afraid,
Some mellowly give tongue and join the drag
Like hounds that bay the bounding anise-bag,
Some swallow darkness and sit hunched and dull,
The stunned beast’s stupor in the monkey-skull.

I climbed, a quarter-century and more
Played out, the college steps, unlatched my door,
And, creature strange to college, found you there:
The pale skin, hard green eyes, and yellow hair—
Intently pinching out before a glass
Some pimples left by parties at the Nass;
Nor did you stop abashed, thus pocked and blotched,
But kept on peering while I stood and watched.
Tonight, from days more distant now, we find,
Than holidays in France were, left behind,
Than spring of graduation from the fall
That saw us grubbing below City Hall,
Through storm and darkness, Time’s contrary stream,
There glides amazingly your mirror’s beam—
To bring before me still, glazed mirror-wise,
The glitter of the hard and emerald eyes.
The cornea tough, the aqueous chamber cold,
Those glassy optic bulbs that globe and hold—
They pass their image on to what they mint,
To blue ice or light buds attune their tint,
And leave us, to turn over, iris-fired,
Not the great Ritz-sized diamond you desired
But jewels in a handful, lying loose:
Flawed amethysts; the moonstone’s milky blues;
Chill blues of pale transparent tourmaline;
Opals of shifty yellow, chartreuse green,
Wherein a vein vermilion flees and flickers—
Tight phials of the spirit’s light mixed liquors;
Some tinsel zircons, common turquoise; but
Two emeralds, green and lucid, one half-cut,
One cut consummately—both take their place
In Letters’ most expensive Cartier case.

And there I have set them out for final show,
And come to the task’s dead-end, and dread to know
Those eyes struck dark, dissolving in a wrecked
And darkened world, that gleam of intellect
That spilled into the spectrum of tune, taste,
Scent, color, living speech, is gone, is lost;
And we must dwell among the ragged stumps,
With owls digesting mice to dismal lumps
Of skin and gristle, monkeys scared by thunder,
Great buzzards that descend to grab the plunder.
And I, your scraps and sketches sifting yet,
Can never thus revive one sapphire jet,
However close I look, however late,
But only spell and point and punctuate.