I’m glad I decided to re-read this book for fun. It was fantastic.
I read it through the lens of nostalgia. The older I get, the more intense the feelings of nostalgia that I experience, mostly about good times in high school and college.
Jay Gatsby is attempting to recapture his past, to go back in time and “fix everything just the way it was before” in relation to his dream woman Daisy. Only problem is she’s married. He builds a mansion across the water from her in an attempt to win her back. Her words have the power to revalue everything in his life. Gatsby’s desire for the impossible leads to incalculable destruction and pain. It’s an impossible goal.
The final line of the book is this:
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.
This book is a sort of analysis of the question of the possibility of reliving the past. Is it possible? Is it advisable? What is a proper relationship with the past? We learn of Jordan Baker and that she was “too wise to ever carry well-forgotten dreams from age to age.”
Jay Gatsby says he is “trying to forget something very sad that happened to me long ago.” It’s this combined desire to forget something very sad, “recover some idea of himself,” and recapture his love of Daisy.
Fitzgerald’s writing is masterful. I would read a paragraph and wonder “how did he just do that?” It’s great writing, but it’s also keen observation into people. It’s devastatingly honest.