The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald: Summary & Notes

Rating: 8/10

Available at: Amazon

Related: A Gentleman in Moscow, Rules of Civility

Summary

Set in the summer of 1922 on Long Island, the story focuses on Jay Gatsby, and his efforts to reunite with his ex-lover, as told by his next-door neighbor.

It is now widely considered one of the greatest American novels, and perhaps Fitzgerald's best.

Similar to Rules of Civility, it is set between two wars, in a time period now considered quite romantic. The characters are flawed, and the ultimate conclusion dissatisfying, which is perhaps why it is so relatable, despite depicting an exclusive lifestyle.

Quotes

  • 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.
  • 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 he were related to one of those intricate machines that register earthquakes ten thousand miles away.
  • Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—to-morrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. And one fine morning—— So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.
  • Every one suspects himself of at least one of the cardinal virtues, and this is mine: I am one of the few honest people that I have ever known.
  • “Whenever you feel like criticizing any one,” he told me, “just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”
  • It is invariably saddening to look through new eyes at things upon which you have expended your own powers of adjustment.
  • No amount of fire or freshness can challenge what a man will store up in his ghostly heart.
  • I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.
  • “There are only the pursued, the pursuing, the busy, and the tired.”
  • Americans, while occasionally willing to be serfs, have always been obstinate about being peasantry.

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