Musings - the haunting music in the start of this video

When I think of F Scott Fitzgerald, incidentally not a day goes by without thinking of him, especially today when I began watching the first few minutes of the BBC Special on youtube (again), it was the sweeping sad background music that filled me with deep melancholy. 

https://youtu.be/cCfUsaX5F10

It was meant to fill the audience with nostalgia of the bygone era, the brief tragic life of F Scott Fitzgerald, of everything that Fitzgerald himself felt when his heydays had gone by him, he was a thing of the past even in his present.

And I weep for him. For the beauty of his soul, the language that poured out of him, the sadness that he felt. Life was not working for him after a while. Or maybe it never worked for him. 

What if he had graduated from Princeton? I do not think that would have made a difference. But what if Zelda had not married him. Hemmingway knew she was not good for him.

Love makes the world go round, and that is the only reason he rewrote 'This Side Of Paradise' into a bestseller. Love is the only true motivator toward excellence and that is why he was able to produce that masterpiece. If not for his love for Zelda, he would not have achieved the first immediate success and yet in that love for that woman, he met his downfall. They quarreled a lot, there was no fiscal sense in one or both of them, she proved selfish in not doing what was best for his writing health and career while looking after her own as well, and the last bit of straw was paying dearly for her mental illness in so many ways. Not that, anything else could have happened differently, if she was healthy. They would have continued quarreling, throwing big parties, eventually run out of money, and due to marital discord - would not have produced any great work. 

Somewhere in his childhood, even before he met Zelda, certain habits and values that he honed or was honed in him proved detrimental after all. Fiscal sense and also a sense of self-worth not dependent on money or class was not instilled in him. His need to be elitist - was his top aspiration and love - his top motivation.

Doubts on his dream - Chapter V

       "If it wasn't for the mist we could see your home across the bay," said Gatsby. "You always have a green light that burns all night at the end of your dock."

    Daisy put her arm through his abruptly, but he seemed absorbed in what he had just said. Possibly it had occurred to him that the colossal significance of that light had now vanished forever. Compared to the great distance that had separated him from Daisy it had seemed very near to her, almost touching her. It had seemed as close as a star to the moon. Now it was again a green light on a dock. His count of enchanted objects had diminished by one. 

from The Great Gatsby, Page 92

    As I went over to say good-by I saw that the expression of bewilderment had come back into Gatsby's face, as though a faint doubt had occurred to him as to the quality of his present happiness. Almost five years! There must have been moments even that afternoon when Daisy tumbled short of his dreams - not through her own fault, but because of the colossal vitality of his illusion. It had gone beyond her, beyond everything. He had thrown himself into it with a creative passion, adding to it all the time, decking it out with every bright feather that drifted his way. No amount of fire or freshness can challenge what a man will store up in his ghostly heart.

    As I watched him he adjusted himself a little, visibly. His hand took hold of hers, and as she said something low in his ear he turned toward her with a rush of emotion. I think that voice held him most, with its fluctuating, feverish warmth, because it couldn't be over-dreamed - that voice was a deathless song.

from The Great Gatsby, Page 95


Characters and places in the Great Gatsby

References to some of the things alluded in the book, is available in this brilliant web page. What a marvel. Thank you for doing this.

https://sites.google.com/site/gatsbyguide/about-f-scott-fizgerald

Quotes

Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall
- The Great Gatsby by FSF

I cannot endure to waste anything as precious as autumnal sunshine by staying in the house
- The American Notebooks by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Character is destiny
Shakespeare’s (from King Lear).

‘When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people, not characters. A character is a caricature.’ So, give us people (‘Give me me.’)
Ernest Hemingway

Gatsby For Highschoolers

Dear Highschoolers,

You will not like the book, or rather you will be indifferent. 
What is all this fuss about it being a great American Novel? 
I was exactly in your boat until I listened to all the lessons in Study.com for The Great Gatsby. 
Do yourself a favor and get access to Study.com's study guide.

And you can cancel the service later or keep it. 

But that is how I was able to appreciate everything about this book. 
Give it a try and let me know if it helped you out or not.


Favorite Words

Ah, the favorite words of your favorite author are


  • interminably
  • imperceptibly
  • breathless
  • dream
  • thrilling


How precious !!

Gatsby Themes - Sirens and Dreams



"As I went over to say good-by I saw that the expression of bewilderment had come back into Gatsby's face, as though a faint doubt had occurred to him as to the quality of his present happiness. Almost five years! There must have been moments even that afternoon when Daisy tumbled short of his dreams - not through her own fault, but because of the colossal vitality of his illusion. It had gone beyond her, beyond everything. He had thrown himself into it with a creative passion, adding to it all the time, decking it out with every bright feather that drifted his way. No amount of fire or freshness can challenge what a man will store up in his ghostly heart.

As I watched him he adjusted himself a little, visibly. His hand took hold of hers, and as she said something low in his ear he turned toward her with a rush of emotion. I think that voice held him most, with its fluctuating, feverish warmth, because it couldn't be over-dreamed - that voice was a deathless song."


from The Great Gatsby, Page 95

F Scott draws on two themes throughout the book.

Voice

Daisy's voice - is what remains the same. It attracted him then and has the same hold over him now, even if he doubts the rest of the past, he doesn't doubt how he felt for that voice.

Why does F Scott emphasize on Daisy's voice so much throughout the book? Because he is drawing a parallel to the sirens of Greek mythology. Her voice has devastating consequences for other characters in the book.


In Greek mythology, the Sirens were dangerous creatures, who lured nearby sailors with their enchanting music and singing voices to shipwreck on the rocky coast of their island. 
The above is from Wikipedia


Dreams

Dreams turning to reality - when dreams come true, a number of things can happen.
It can be exactly as you wanted which is very rarely the case.

But it can be almost true and you are wondering if this is what you had always wanted? You could come to a realization that this is not what you had envisioned but this is the best you are going to get.

That's what happens when he meets Daisy. That's what happens to the person who has dreamed all along to get the Olympic medal to realize - is it only this ? is this what I had slaved for all along - as the reality always falls a little short or at a five-degree angle from our dreams.

F Scott reiterates this point throughout the book and is a constant message in his other books that dreams are best left to dreams and unfulfilled love holds so much more promise and so much more hope that fulfilled love. John Keats also notes the same point in his 'Ode To A Grecian Urn'

In the second stanza of the poem, the speaker looks at another picture on the urn, this time of a young man playing a pipe, lying with his lover beneath a glade of trees. The speaker says that the piper’s “unheard” melodies are sweeter than mortal melodies because they are unaffected by time. He tells the youth that, though he can never kiss his lover because he is frozen in time, he should not grieve, because her beauty will never fade. In the third stanza, he looks at the trees surrounding the lovers and feels happy that they will never shed their leaves. He is happy for the piper because his songs will be “for ever new,” and happy that the love of the boy and the girl will last forever, unlike mortal love, which lapses into “breathing human passion” and eventually vanishes, leaving behind only a “burning forehead, and a parching tongue.”

The above paragrapgh is from https://www.sparknotes.com/poetry/keats/section4/



Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
       Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;
Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear'd,
       Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone:
Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave
       Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare;
               Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss,
Though winning near the goal yet, do not grieve;
       She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss,
               For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair!

The above is the second stanza of John Keat's Ode To A Grecian Urn

In his letters

What little I have accomplished has been by the most laborious and uphill work, and I wish now I'd never relaxed or looked back - but said at the end of The Great Gatsby: "I've found my line-from now on this comes first. This is my immediate duty-without this I am nothing"

To his daughter on 12 June 1940.

Fitzgerald's Style


The Great Gatsby marked an advance in every way over Fitzgerald's previous work. If he could develop so rapidly in the five years since This Side Of Paradise, if he could write so brilliantly before he was thirty, his promise seemed boundless. Instead of addressing the reader, as he had done in The Beautiful and Damed, Fitzgerald utilized the resources of style to convert the meanings of The Great Gatsby. The values of the story are enhanced through imagery as detail is used with poetic effect. Thus the description of the Buchanan's house reveals how Fitzgerald's images stimulate the senses :

"The lawn started at the beach and ran toward the front door for a quarter of a mile, jumping over sun-dials and brick walks and burning gardens - finally when it reached the house drifting up the side in bright vines as though from the momentum of its run."

In his richest prose there is impression of movement; here the lawn runs, jumps, and drifts. Again and again, sentences are made memorable by a single word - often a color words, as in: now the orchestra is playing yellow cocktail music :

this technique in Gatsby is scenic and symbolic. There are scenes and descriptions that have become touchstones of American prose: the first description of Daisy and Jordan, Gatsby's party, the shirt display, the guest list, Nick's recollection of the Midwest. Within these scenes, Fitzgerald endows details with so much suggestiveness that they acquire symbolic force to extend the meanings of the story. 

From F.Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby A literary reference Page: 171

Videos

1. An insightful lecture on its symbolism.
F Scott lives on, through the people who love his works.

Great Books: The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald - Paul Restivo

2. Yale teaches the Great Gatsby. What an honor that the glory of the book still lives on.

https://oyc.yale.edu/american-studies/amst-246/lecture-4

3. 8 Ways 'The Great Gatsby' Captured the Roaring Twenties—and Its Dark Side




From the book

However, one's eyes moved on quickly to her daughter, who had magic in her pink palms and her cheeks lit a lovely flame, like the thrilling flush of children after their cold baths in the evenings. Her fine high forehead sloped gently up to where her hair, bordering it like an armorial shield, burst into lovelocks and waves and curlicues of ash blonde and gold. Her eyes were bright, big, clear, wet, and shining, the color of her cheeks was real, breaking close to the surface from the strong young pump of her heart. Her body hovered delicately on the last edge of childhood - she was almost eighteen, nearly complete, but the dew was still on her.

From 'Tender Is The Night' Page 4.


Fitszgerald Quotes

1. The compensation of a very early success is a conviction that life is a romantic matter.



Read the book


 Book, the whole book, and nothing but the book


Others Quote FSF

Josip Novakovich in his book Fiction Writer's Workshop quotes our very own F Scott Fitzgerald.

If character matters so much to the reader, it matters even more to the writer. Once you create convincing characters, everything else should easily follow. F. Scott Fitzgerald said, Character is plot, plot is character.’