Fitzgerald once wrote that if you showed him a hero, he would write you a tragedy. Jay Gatsby is, in a small way, heroic and, in an infinitely larger way, tragic. In this American literary masterpiece, F. Scott Fitzgerald seamlessly blends together love, wealth and the hope of recapturing a dream.
The story is seen through the eyes of Nick Carraway, over the span of one summer, on Long Island and in New York City. From his shining American palace to the streets of New York City, Jay Gatsby attempts, at almost any cost, to recapture the lost love of his life, Daisy Buchanan, only to get caught in the destructive carelessness of his beloved. But the ultimately sadness for Gatsby is what he comes to learn about his dream.
The book is brilliantly concise and features a series of thoughtful settings and characters, playing out the age in wealth and carelessness. Charged with decorative and gilded scenes, Fitzgerald gives the characters masterful precision and depth, despite some of them being empty and smug. None of the characters are exempt from their parts in the tragedy. The story itself is beautifully told, with poetic phrases and sharp memorable scenes. Each character is distinctive in their own way: Gatsby is the dreamer, Daisy is the perfect American ideal of a woman, Tom is the athletic vision of carelessness and wealth, and George Wilson the struggling everyman.
Fitzgerald's prose reaches almost perfect form as he tells the glistening story through the innocent eyes of Nick who, like Fitzgerald, never quite feels at home around the wealthly. Woven through the story are some of the most memorable symbols in modern literature, including the green light at the end of the dock and the clock falling from the mantel. It's subtle and special in a way that few novels are. The story, at its core, is about dreams, wealth and love. For its language, complexity, craftsmanship and evocation of the Jazz age, The Great Gatsby remains an American classic that has aged miraculously well.