The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby

‘THE GREAT GATSBY’


JUMP TO SECTION:

OPENING LINE:

What’s so great about Gatsby?


PUBLISHER’S SUMMARY:

Audie Award Finalist, Classic, 2013
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic American novel of the Roaring Twenties is beloved by generations of readers and stands as his crowning work. This new audio edition, authorized by the Fitzgerald estate, is narrated by Oscar-nominated actor Jake Gyllenhaal (Brokeback Mountain). Gyllenhaal’s performance is a faithful delivery in the voice of Nick Carraway, the Midwesterner turned New York bond salesman, who rents a small house next door to the mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby. There, he has a firsthand view of Gatsby’s lavish West Egg parties – and of his undying love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan.
After meeting and losing Daisy during the war, Gatsby has made himself fabulously wealthy. Now, he believes that his only way to true happiness is to find his way back into Daisy’s life, and he uses Nick to try to reach her. What happens when the characters’ fantasies are confronted with reality makes for a startling conclusion to this iconic masterpiece.
This special audio edition joins the upcoming film – as well as many other movie, radio, theater, and even video-game adaptations – as a fitting tribute to the cultural significance of Fitzgerald’s Jazz Age classic, widely regarded as one of the greatest stories ever told.
©1925 Charles Scribner’s Sons. Copyright renewed 1953 by Frances Scott Fitzgerald Lanahan (P)2013 Audible, Inc.


THE PLOT:

The question I posed in the introduction is probably what my high school self would have asked after reading ‘The Great Gatsby’. When I read it for the first time, I certainly did not enjoy the experience. So when you see the score I give the book in my final grade, and if you think that seems low given what else I say about the book before the review is over, consider that I probably would have given the book a zero the first time around.
Given the status of the novel itself and the adaptations that have been made over the years, a thorough reconstruction of the plot and characters feels a bit unnecessary to me. However, there are a few things that I would like to point out.
The story is told from the point of view of Nick Carraway, who is a World War I veteran and graduate of Yale. After the war, Carraway decides to move east, essentially out of boredom with the Midwest. He gets more than he bargains for when he rents a house next door to the wealthy J. Gatsby.
Carraway serves as the story’s foundation. He is ultimately a straight man in a world full of mayhem. When you see all of the characters that Carraway gets involved with, and see some of the worst of humanity, it is not hard to understand Carraway’s decision to head back to the Midwest at novel’s end.
Carraway encounters in the person of J. Gatsby, Daisy and Tom Buchanan, the Wilsons, and Jordan Baker a group of people who are dishonest and generally ruled by their own impulse with little to no regard to potential consequences. Tom Buchanan, a white supremacist who cheats on his wife and is not afraid to rough up his mistress, is easily the most unlikable of the bunch.
The real story of ‘The Great Gatsby’ is as old as humanity itself. Boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl but girl worries that boy can’t give her all that she wants. Spurred by rejection, boy does everything he can to prove girl wrong, but it ultimately comes to nothing in the end because all that boy does to please girl is a betrayal of who he really is. In this case, the boy is Gatsby and the girl is Daisy Buchanan. Fitzgerald just set the story in 1920s America to better illustrate his point on the trappings of wealth.
Gatsby’s life is an illusion. This is a man who seems to have everything. He throws wild parties attended by many people in the hope that one day Daisy Buchanan would appear at one of them. Yet, all of that comes to nothing because in the end he doesn’t get the girl, and outside of Nick, some of Gatsby’s staff, and the man’s own father, nobody mourns him when he is gone.
‘The Great Gatsby’ is obviously dated to 1920s America. However, that doesn’t make it feel uninteresting because the Roaring Twenties were a time of great change in this country. It was the height of Prohibition, women had recently gained the right to vote, automobiles became more common, which gave people the ability to travel more easily and longer distances, and it was an economic boom. All of that is played to great effect by Fitzgerald in the narrative.


THE AUTHOR:

F. Scott Fitzgerald worked elements of his own life into the story. Like Nick Carraway, Fitzgerald was Ivy League educated. The love story of Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan mirrors events from Fitzgerald’s own past.
‘The Great Gatsby’ was not a commercial success upon its release, and it received mixed reviews from critics. In many ways that mirrors my own feelings about the book in High School to how I feel after reading it again nearly two decades later. The story ages so well because it is easier now to see the time period for what it was than in 1925 when the book was released and the Roaring Twenties were still taking place.


THE NARRATION:

Jake Gyllenhaal delivers an enjoyable performance throughout the presentation. He does a good job of acting out each part, and I found his performance of Tom Buchanan, with his big, booming voice, to be the most fun. Perhaps if I could take Gyllenhaal’s performance and give it to the younger version of myself, I would have enjoyed my original experience of the book a lot more.


THE PRODUCTION:

The track sounds exactly like you would hope, considering it was recorded in 2013. There is no problem with shifts in volume level or anything else on the track. There is a short piano number to open and close the book, but otherwise no other music or sound effects are present. The audio chapter stops match up perfectly with the actual book chapters.


FINAL THOUGHTS:

It is hard to evaluate something like ‘The Great Gatsby’. If you ask three people for their interpretation of what the story is really about, you are likely going to receive three different answers.
The message of ‘The Great Gatsby’ is really not something that can be easily pinned down. But what cannot be denied is that ‘The Great Gatsby’ stands as a symbol of the American lifestyle of the 1920s. The Roaring Twenties was a decade of prosperity and newfound freedom through the accessibility of things like the automobile, and ‘The Great Gatsby’ stands as an examination of all that new freedom and prosperity.
The book has reached iconic status and is something that probably takes more than one reading to truly appreciated.


QUICK FACTS:

Title Author Narrator Publisher Genre Release Date Running Time Score
The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald Jake Gyllenhaal Audible Studios American Literature 04/09/2013 4 hours, 52 minutes 7.75/10

DISCLAIMER:

A copy of ‘THE GREAT GATSBY’ was purchased from Audible for review.

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