Monday, March 27, 2017

Real men

"Well, these books are all scientific," insisted Tom, glancing at her impatiently. "This fellow has worked out the whole thing. It's up to us, who are the dominant race, to watch out or these other races will have control of things.
"We've got to beat them down," whispered Daisy, winking ferociously toward the fervent sun.
"You ought to live in California—" began Miss Baker, but Tom interrupted her by shifting heavily in his chair.
"The idea is that we're Nordics. I am, and you are, and you are, and—" After an infinitesimal hesitation he included Daisy with a slight nod, and she winked at me again. "—And we've produced all the things that go to make civilization—oh, science and art, and all that. Do you see?"
The Great Gatsby is, I think, one of those books I pretended to read in high school and/or college. I learned some of the names and was able to pass a test by osmosis, but avoided the actual reading. Now I actually am reading it. It's short, brisk, and so far more rewarding than I always figured it would be.

As for the above-quoted Tom Buchanan, he was born at the wrong time. In the previous century he could have been a presidential adviser. Or in, you know, the next one.


susan said...

It's hard for me to remember what books were on the curriculum when I was in high school but I'm quite sure The Great Gatsby wasn't among them. Dickens, for sure and Thomas Hardy as well, but whatever comprised the rest of the required reading list has long since been forgotten.

Nevertheless, I have read a lot in the intervening years, but still haven't got around to Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Steinbeck, and Hemingway (except for The Old Man and the Sea). The odd thing about Gatsby, though, is that despite not having read the novel certain aspects of the story have been absorbed - mostly the ones about decadence and betrayal.

Since you seem to be recommending it, perhaps I should take the plunge.

Ben said...

It's possible that since Canada was still part of the British Commonwealth, your high school curriculum was more slanted toward British literature. Hardy was something of a modernist. His novels were all published during the Victorian era but they were forward looking in form, and he continued to write poetry for the first three decades of the twentieth century.

The book comes by its decadence and betrayal honestly. Fitzgerald seems to have been inspired in part by Petronius' Satyricon.

Anyway, I'm pretty sure I was in college when I first "read" it. And it's not a bad investment of time. Or a large one at that. Less than 200 pages.