So after the disappointment of the mid-nineteenth century novel last week, I retreated to the glitz and glamour and jazz of the Twenties, with The Great Gatsby.
I can’t remember not being attracted to the between-war period – probably because of Nancy Mitford and The Pursuit of Love. It always seemed such a carefree and frivolous period. Apparently full of bittersweet love-stories.
I like happy endings, don’t misunderstand me, but I think the early conditioning from The Pursuit of Love has given me a greater appreciation of the bittersweet loves, for the sad endings, for the tragedies. I always tend to root for the lover who loses.
Gatsby is one such tale. So few can do them well – there’s a tendency to linger, I find, over the final scene. And then Nick Carraway’s return West.
I like the way you get swept up and along in the heat of the summer, on the sounds of the jazz-bands, riotous parties and fast cars, relatively speaking. Pretty cars. I like me a good classic car. I think what I like about this period is there’s enough technology for it to be ‘modern’ (cars, telephones), but not so much that life is too fast to be enjoyed. It’s possible for Nick not to be able to get a-hold of people, or for Gatsby to have fallen out of Daisy’s life.
Sometimes I think there’s too much emphasis these days on holding onto the past. And if there’s one thing that The Great Gatsby might teach us, it’s: you can’t go back. You can’t recapture the past. But there’s nothing wrong with that – Gatsby might have been happy, if he’d let himself. Didn’t need to forget Daisy, just move on. Of course, that wouldn’t have been nearly as a good an ending, but really he shouldn’t have been such an ass, trying to force Daisy to leave Tom when she wasn’t ready.
I hope Nick eventually found work and a girl – a shame about Jordan, but she wouldn’t have done.