Strange how a literary work evolves into something meta-literary & “mythical”: Frankenstein, Dracula, Huckleberry Finn, yes & “Gatsby.”
Hating “The Great Gatsby” (the novel) is like spitting into the Grand Canyon. It will not be going away anytime soon, but you will be.
Classics always have many things wrong with them, especially by contemporary standards. To enumerate defects is to miss the point —
like complaining that a painting isn’t clear & vivid to the eye because your own shadow has fallen over it.
Some UC-Berkeley undergraduates have read–have been assigned–“The Great Gatsby” four times, initially in high school.
newyorker.com/online/blogs/movies/2013/05/the-great-gatsby-a-voice-of-degeneration.html … … Absolutely brilliant! Here is criticism of the highest caliber. Most insightful remarks on “Gatsby” in memory.
The highly personal ways in which people are responding to Gatsby suggests that “Jay Gatz” is our American tragic hero…
Gatsby is the quintessential American outsider yearning to be loved by the rich as one of them–not knowing that they are killers.
Melville’s Ahab (19th century), Fitzgerald’s Gatsby (20th century)–our tragic American heroes to set beside Hamlet, Macbeth, Lear.
(Jay Gatz is–Jewish? If so, interesting how Fitzgerald invests him, as Joyce invested Leopold Bloom, with such universal significance.)
Postcript on Ulysses:
Always fascinating that James Joyce, obsessive Roman Catholic Irish, deliberately looks past Stephan Dedalus to Leopold Bloom for his hero.
The humor of Bloom-as-hero is precisely that he is so quirkily individual, so non-representational of the Irish, yet the universal Odysseus.
Joyce is the audacious virtuoso among Modernists who (perversely) chooses an unlikely hero for his Odysseus as if to say, Watch me!
Virginia Woolf tries to devalue Joyce by sneering at his class–which is “lower” than hers. Yet a single page of Ulysses thrums with genius
beyond anything Woolf ever imagined, let alone executed. She was blind to Joyce’s greatness because as a contemporary, he was “too close.”
Ulysses is a great work of comic genius, though containing much sorrow & melancholy. Is there a moment of humor in all of Woolf’s fiction?
Tweeted by @JoyceCarolOates, May 7 – 24, 2013