Контрольная работа по английскому языку.Chapters I, II (p. 5-41)
I. Make up a list of words and word-combinations that will go into your description of.
a) Tom Buchanan,
b) Daisy Buchanan,
c) Gordon Baker,
d) Myrtle Wilson
(work to be carried on all through your reading of the book).
II. Recall the situation in which you come across the following words and phrases. Use them while discussing the book.
1. to reserve judg(e)ment (5)', to pass (give, pronounce, render) judg(e)ment on smb.
2. to open up smth. (5)
3. come about (5)
4. in terms of smth. (6)
5. wholesale (retail) business (7), to start (do) business; to buy (sell) a business
6. restless (7), restlessness (11, 14, 22)
7. for one thing... for another (thing) (8)
8. casual, casualness (8,17,39)
9. arresting (9)
10. by any standard(s); one's (European, etc.) standard(s) (9)
11. to be an eyesore (to smb.)
12. supercilious (11)
13. to see out of the corner of one's eye (12)
14. to rest smth. on smth. (to rest one's elbows on the table; to rest one's hand on smb's shoulder, etc.) (14, 46,88, 116)
15. at this (that) point (14, 51, 131)
16. to work out smth (17)
17. to be devoid of smth. (19)
18. tangible (20)
1 Set. F. Scott Fitzgerald. "The Great Gatsby". Kiev, Divipro Publishers, 1973.
19. to master smth. (20)
20. to feel about smth. (21, 28)
21. sophisticated (22)
22. stale bread, a stale joke, stale news (ideas) (25)
23. half-way/ to go half-way, to do smth. half-way (41)
24. to border on smth. (27)
25. in the vicinity (29, 45, 50)
26. All they think of is.../ All 1 ask is.../ All they can do is... (34)
27. to bring out (35)
28. to move about (32), to follow smb. about, to throw things about, etc.
29. to be enchanted by (with) smth. (39)
III. Переведите с английского языка.
1. Ch. I, p. 6 "If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures... short-winded elations of men".
2. Ch. 1, p. 25 "The wind had blown off... our local heavens".
IV. Paraphrase or explain the following.
1. "Reserving judgments is a matter of infinite hope. I am still a little afraid of missing something if I forget that, as my father snobbishly suggested... a sense of the fundamental decencies is parcelled out unequally at birth." (6)
2. "Conduct may be founded on the hard rock or the wet marshes..."
3. "Something was making him nibble at the edge of stale ideas as if his sturdy physical egotism no longer nourished his peremptory heart." (25)
V. Comment on.
"This isn't just an epigram - life is much more successfully looked at from a single window, after all."
VI. Questions and tasks.
1. What is the setting of the novel?
2. What is the narrator's background?
3. Why did he decide to go East?
4. What does the narrator refer to by saying: "1 participated in that delayed Teutonic migration..."?
5. How does the author describe East and West Egg?
"1 lived at West Egg, the - well, less fashionable of the two, though this is the most superficial tag to express the bizarre and not a little sinister contrast between the two." (9)
6. Describe Gatsby's mansion. What stylistic devices do you observe about the description?
7. Explain "My own house was an eyesore". (9)
8. Speak on Tom Buchanan:
a) his appearance,
b) his manner of speaking,
c) his way of treating people.
Comment on: "If we don't look out the white race will be utterly submerged". (17)
d) What impression did Tom make on Nick Carraway?
9. How does the author introduce Miss Baker?
10. What stylistic devices do you observe about the passage beginning with "We walked through a high hallway... the two young women balanced slowly to the floor"? (12). Dwell on the effect achieved by them.
11. What sort of woman was Daisy? Was she actually happy? (the way she put it, "I'm p-paralyzed with happiness"). Daisy was sophisticated and cynical, wasn't she? Bear it out referring to the text.
12. Give your interpretation of the passage: Ch. II, pp. 26-27 "About halfway... the solemn dumping ground".
13. Comment on the image created by the following lines:
"This is a valley of ashes - a fantastic farm where ashes grow like wheat into ridges and hills and grotesque gardens, where ashes take the forms of houses and ... men who move dimly and already crumbing through the powdery air..." (26)
14. Sum up Chapter II in 8-10 sentences.
Chapters III - IV (p. 42-83)
I. Find the words and phrases in the book. Remember the situations, which they occur in.
1. to take the sun (42)
2. to know smb. from smb.; know smb. (43)
3. in full swing (43)
4. on the spot (43)
5. to park a car (park five deep) (43, 61)
6. all in one or in the same breath (43)
7. whereabouts (45)
8. to give (lend) an ear to smb. (45 )
9. oversea/s (48); to go overseas (73)
10. /a/ regular /Belasco/ (49)
11. to be liable to smth. (49)
12. to collapse (49, 141)
13. to sober smth. up (49)
14. on the tip of one's tongue (51)
15. to be over thirty (51), to be well over sixty (64)
16. away (in verb-adverb collocations): to die away, fade away, to explain, laugh smth. away, idle one's time/one's life away. etc. (52,61, 71)
17. to set smth. (smb.) off (53)
18. to identify smth. or smb.; to identify oneself (52)
19. to account for smth. (57,161)
20. to wash one's hands of smth. (57)
21. (to know) next to nothing (58)
22. to run over smb. (64)
23. to pull smb's leg(68)
24. threadbare (68)
25. to promote smb. (68)
26. to pocket smth. (69)
27. to lapse into smth. (72, 115)
28. to impose smth. on smb.; to impose oneself on smb. (75)
29. by far (77)
30. to be engrossed in (by) smth. (77, 125)
1. Ch. Ill, p.51-52 "He smiled understandingly... he was picking his words with care".
2. Ch. Ill, p. 60-61 "I began to like New York... the most poignant moments of night and life".
П1. Paraphrase and expand on (he following.
"They were at least agonizingly aware of the easy money in the vicinity and convinced that it was theirs for a few words in the right key." (45)
"It was testimony to the romantic speculation he inspired that there were whispers about him..." (47)
"Instead of rambling, this party has preserved a dignified homogeneity, and assumed to itself the functions of representing the staid nobility of the countryside..." (48)
IV. Questions and Tasks.
1. Divide Chapter III into logically complete parts and entitle each.
2. Give a detailed account of the party at Gatsby's.
a) What stylistic device does the author employ to describe Gatsby's guests: "In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like months among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars". (42) Comment on the lines.
b) "I keep it (the house) always full of interesting people, night and day. People who do interesting things. Celebrated people." Do you share Gatsby's viewpoint?
3. In what light does the author depict "the celebrities" that "accepted Gatsby's hospitality and paid him the subtle tribute of knowing nothing whatever about him"?
4. Speak on Gatsby. (Make a list of words and word-combinations that will go into your description of Gatsby.)
IV. Interpret the following:
"He smiled understandingly - much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it that you come across four or five times in life. It faced - or seemed to face the whole external world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor." (52) What "set him (Gatsby) off from his guests"?
5. In what way is "the young generation" represented? (See Ch. I-IV)
6. What kind of woman was Jordan Baker? (See Ch. I—IV) How did Nick treat her?
Why did he think that "dishonesty in a woman is a thing you never blame deeply..."?
7. What was Gatsby's life-story?
8. Comment on:
a) "Everyone suspects himself of at least one of the cardinal virtues, and this is mine (Nick's): I am one of the fewr honest people that 1 have known." (63)
b) "There are only the pursued, the pursuing, the busy, and the tired." (82)
Chapters V-VI (p. 83-113)
1. Reproduce the situations in which the following words and phrases occur.
1. to play hide-and-go-seek (83)
2. on the side (84) (to make a little money on the side, to carry on a little business on the side)
3. to take up (of time) (84)
4. to take smth. on (85, 160)
5. a matter-of-fact description (voice, tone of a story, etc.) (89)
6. to cut smb. off; to cut smth. off (cut off negotiations) (93)
7. to enchant smb.: enchanted, enchanting (95)
8. to be out of practice (96)
9. to store up smth. (98)
10. random, at random (99)
11. to haunt smb. (100)
12. an outlet for smth. (an outlet for one's energies, imagination, etc.) (100)
13. to dismay smb.; to be dismayed at smth. (100)
14. to pay one's way (through) (100)
15. transaction (101)
16. to turn up (101)
17. capacity; (in official capacity; in the capacity of an engineer; in any other capacity (100, 101))
18. ambitious (101)
19. to lounge (back, away one's time, etc.) (104)
20. to stand out (105)
21. to look at smth. through smb's eyes (106)
22. celebrity (107)
23. oblivion; to sink (fall) into oblivion (107)
24. to make a point of doing smth. (110)
25. to blot out smth. (110)
26. to take shape/compare: to take the shape of smth. (113)
Ch. VI p.99-100 "James Gats - that was really... he was faithful to end".
Ch. VI p. 109 "But the rest offended her - ...she failed to understand".
III. Paraphrase or explain the following.
"...he revalued everything in his house according to the measure of response it drew from her well-loved eyes." (93)
"Each night he added to the pattern of his fancies until drowsiness closed down upon some vivid scenc with an oblivious embrace. For a while these reveries provided an outlet for his imagination; they were a satisfactory hint of the unreality of reality, a promise that the rock of the world was founded securely on a fairy's wing." (100)
IV. Questions and Tasks.
1. Describe Gatsby's state of mind the moment he saw Daisy. Trace gradual changes about him.
Give your interpretation of the following:
a) "He literally glowed, without a word or a gesture of exultation a new well-being radiated from him..." (91)
b) "He had passed visibly through two states and was entering upon a third. After embarrassment and his unreasoning joy in her presence. He had been full of the idea so long, dreamed it right through to the end, waited with his teeth set, so to speak, at an inconceivable pitch of intensity." (94)
2. What "represented all the beauty and glamour in the world to young Gatsby"?
3. How did Gatsby rise up to his position in the East?
4. Give an account of the party at Gatsby's.
Why did it "stand out in Nick's memory from Gatsby's other
5. How did Daisy find it?
6. Comment on:
a) "No amount of fire of freshness can challenge what a man will store up in his ghostly heart." (98)
b) "It is invariably saddening to look through new eyes at things upon which you have expended your own powers of adjustment" (106)
c) "...he (Gatsby) wanted to recover something, some idea of himself... that had gone into loving Daisy."
7. Choose a passage in Chapter V for interpretation. Give your reasons for the choice.
Chapters VII-IX (pp. 113-181)
Recall the situations in which you come across the following words and phrases.
1. to fire smb. (114)
2. to show smb./ smth. off (T17)
3. crisp (snow, air, repartee, etc.), get crisp (119)
4. run out(121)
5. pointless (121)
6. all along (122, 133)
7. to keep vigil (125)
8. easy-going (125)
9. to cause a row (have a row with smb.) (130)
10. once in a while (132, 146)
11. that much (long) important, etc. (134)
12. to leave smb. in the lurch (135)
13. formidable (137)
14. agreeable (137)
15. to pull oneself together (141)
16. for all I know (144)
17. commotion (145)
18. to clutch at smth.; to clutch at some last hope (148); a drowning man will clutch at a straw;
19. malice, to bear malice to smb. (148)
20. to be played out (148)
21. to take shape (151)
22. promise smth. (a lovely day), promising (152)
23. a forlorn hope; to cherish a forlorn hope (160)
24. to leave word with smb., for smb. (161)
25. to keep out (off smb.) (163)
26. to rise up to one's position (168)
27. to fumble at (with, in) smth. (168)
28. to know better/' than... (170)
29. to be hard up (171)
30. straightforward (178)
Ch. IX pp. 180-181 "Most of the big shore places were closed... borne back ceaselessly into the past."
III. Paraphrase or explain the following.
"I don't mean that he had traded on his phantom millions, but he had deliberately given Daisy a sense of security; he let her believe that he was a person from much the same stratum as herself - that he was fully able to take care of her. As a matter of fact, he had no such facilities - he had no comfortable family standing behind him, and he was liable at the whim of an impersonal government to be blown anywhere about the world." (149)
IV. Questions and Tasks.
1. Comment on:
a) "So the whole caravansary had fallen in like a card house at disapproval in her eyes." (114)
b) "She's got an indiscreet voice", I remarked... "Her voice is full of money", he (Gatsby) said suddenly. (121)
c) "Flushed with his impassioned gibberish, he saw himself standing alone on the last barrier of civilization." (130)
2. How is Gatsby portrayed in Chapter VII?
3. What traits of Tom's character are revealed in the chapter?
4. Prove that Gatsby "has broken up like glass against Tom's hard malice".
5. In what connection does the author remark "he was clutching at some last hope and I couldn't bear to shake him free"?
6. What brought Daisy and Tom under one roof?
7. Take the passage beginning with "He did extraordinarily well in the war... he was still at Oxford" (pp. 150-152), for stylistic analysis.
What stylistic devices stress Daisy's contradictory character?
Analyze the stylistic device of zeugma in the sentence: "There was a wholesome bulkiness about his person and his position" and say how it opens up the author's attitude to Tom Buchanan.
8. Dwell upon stylistic devices used to describe Daisy's "artificial world". (See Ch. VII - VIII)
9. Gatsby "must have felt that he had lost the old warm world, paid a high price for living too long with a single dream". Bear it out referring to the text.
10. What made Nick Carraway utter "1 began to have a feeling of defiance, of scornful solidarity between Gatsby and me against them all"?
11. How did Gatsby's father take the news of his death?
Give your interpretation of the following: "...his grief began to be mixed with an awed pride". (168)
12. What was the reaction of Gatsby's "friends" and "acquaintances" when they leamt of his death?
13. Give an account of Gatsby's funeral.
14. How did Nick feel about the whole thing?
15. Comment on: "They were careless people, Tom and Daisy - they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money and their vast carelessness... and let other people clean up the mess they had made..." (179)
16. What feelings did the novel stir in you?
Points for genera] discussion.
1. Speak on Gatsby. Go over the opening pages of the novel (5-6) once again and comment on: "Gatsby turned out all right at the end; it is what preyed on Gatsby, what foul dust floated in the wake of his dreams that temporarily closed out my interest in the abortive sorrows and shortwinded elations of men".
2. Comment on the title of the novel.
3. Give a character sketch of Nick Carraway. Who is the mouthpiece of the author?
"Even when the East excited me most, even when 1 was most keenly aware of its superiority to the bored, sprawling, swollen towns beyond the Ohio,... even then it had always for me a quality of distortion." (176)
"I wanted the world to be in uniform and at a sort of moral attention forever." (6)
4. Give a character sketch of Tom Buchanan.
5. What sort of woman was Daisy?
"She vanished into her rich house, into her rich, full life, leaving Gatsby - nothings." (149)
6. How does the author treat the problem of the "Young Generation"?
7. Speak on F.Scott Fitzgerald's style.
Make use of the reading stuff (below) when discussing "The Great Gatsby" and F.Scott Fitzgerald's style
"The Great Gatsby" was published in April, 1925. In the autumn of 1924 F.Scott Fitzgerald wrote in a letter to a friend: "It's been a fair summer. I've been unhappy but my work hasn't suffered from it. I am grown at last."
Measured by "The Great Gatsby", that growth is certain. Infinitely superior to his earlier novels, it is by almost any standard a nearly perfect book, one of the few permanent contributions to American literature to come out of an epoch of great experimentation and high productivity.
Narrated by Nick Carraway, a young man of good family and high ideals from the Midwest who has come East to work in New York City, the novel focuscs on Jay Gatsby, who has risen from obscure beginnings as James Gatz, a poor boy and a drifter, to great wealth, driven by a dream resulting from his meeting and falling in love with a beautiful, rich girl.
Gatsby's dream might be described as the American dream of success. It is the dream of rising from rags to riches, of amassing a great fortune that will assure a life of luxuriant ease, power, and beauty in an ideal world untroubled by care and devoted to the enjoyment of everlasting pleasure. It is a naive dream based on ihe assumption that material possessions are synonymous with happiness, harmony, and beauty. The dreamer overlooks the fact that the fullest kinds of pleasure come from the cultivation of sensibilities, the refinement of taste-accomplishments that have little to do with the acquisitive powers by which a fortune is amassed. Indeed it is generally the case that the man who devoted all his energy to making money is deficient in those very qualities that make the life towards which he aspires desirable.
Gatsby is such a man, a man who equates quantity with quality, cost with value. He lives in a tremendous mansion, tastelessly crammed with things that go with culture heaped together. He dresses in expensive bad taste. He gives parties for strangers costing fortunes. He has an extensive library, elaborately housed, but no knowledge of books.
However, if Gatsby lacks culture and sophistication, he has lived not for himself but for his dream, for his vision inspired by the beauty of a lovely rich girl. Having lived with such intensity for the dream he has cherished, he is untouched by the moral evil that surrounds him. The fact of the matter is that he has made his money as a racketeer and consorts with unsavory characters or with parasites who accept his generosity with indifference, condescension, or contempt.
The girl who has inspired Gatsby is Daisy Fay, whose beauty invested the wealthy background into which she was born with an air of mystery and charm for him. She has had a brief affair with Gatsby during the war. However, her parents deem him an unsuitable match for their daughter and prevent her from running off with him. Ultimately she marries Tom Buchanan, a crassly brutal egotist of vast inherited wealth whose insensiti- vity to moral and ethical values she, in fact, shares. He is unfaithful to her, but she covers up his lapses for him in the interest of preserving a facade of social respectability.
Action in the novel alternates between two wealthy Long Island commu¬nities - East Egg, bastion of traditional wealth, where the Buchanans reside; and West Egg, ostentatious showcase of the newly rich, where Gatsby displays his wealth in an effort to win Daisy back by demonstrating that he has arrived at her social level.
Beyond the rich Long Island Eggs lies the Valley of Ashes, a lower- middle-class Waste Land where people live out their drab lives as shopkeepers, garage mechanics, and servants of the rich in an atmosphere of black sterility. The neighbourhood is dominated by a huge pair of sightless, staring eyes behind enormous spectacles, advertisement for Dr. T.J.Eckleburg, and symbol of the indifference of a society characterised by lack of vision. Here Daisy and her husband display their indifference to human values in episodes involving sexual exploitation and careless violence. The principal victims of their moral indifference are Wilson, an automobile mechanic, and his wife Myrtle, who has become Tom Buchanan's rrustress. Ultimately Gatsby falls victim to the train of violence their careless behaviour sets off.
Daisy remains with Tom indifferent to Gatsby's death, as she had been to Myrtle's. It remains to Nick Carraway, the narrator, to register the human loss and measure the disparity between Gatsby's dream and the reality upon which it is based.
Even the minor details of the novel are handled with absolute sureness and are carefully controlled and integrated into the dramatic structure of the book. Take Gatsby's haberdashery display. Along with the Marie Antoinette music rooms and Restoration salons, the period bedrooms "swathed in rose and lavender silk", the gardens and the "celebrated people" whom he assembles, his shirts arc part of the West
Egg Trimelchio's demonstration of his worth, by which he hopes to impress Daisy and win her back.
Touched by the intimate vulgarity of this display and recognizing that it is Gatsby's way of saying, "Look, I have arrived at your level of affluence and I love you", Daisy bends her head upon the shirts in an ecstasy of sobbing. What the scene reveals is that she has her vulgar side, a point reinforced by her response to the tasteless silver screen tableau of the director kissing his star at the party in Gatsby's garden. "I like her", Daisy says. "I think she's lovely".
The scene of Daisy's tears over Gatsby's shirts is not an isolated episode but is structurally parallel to another scene in which Daisy "cried and cried". In that scene, preceding Daisy's marriage to Tom, Daisy has drunk herself into a state of maudlin self-pity. But she is quickly sobered up by Jordan Baker and hustled down to her bridal dinner.
And her tears of anger and despair are quickly forgotten. She forgets Gatsby as quickly as she comes to accept Tom Buchanan. More quickly. For the comic grotesque scene of her drunken rejection of Tom requires the assistance of Jordan, spirits of ammonia, and a cold bath before she can face her bridal dinner. The anti-communion that ends the Gatsby affair - cold fried chicken and two bottles of ale shared in the Buchanan kitchen - requires no preparation to reestablish an "air of natural intimacy" between Tom and Daisy. And, of course, Gatsby takes the grotesque and final cold bath, when he is shot to death in his own swimming pool by Wilson.
Thus even seemingly minor details reverberate widely in the novel. Hence a nameless little man with enormous "owl-eyed spectacles", in a marvellously comic scene in Gatsby's pretentious Gothic library, has the natural keenness of vision to recognize the thoroughness with which Gatsby has filled out his "Platonic conception of himself'. The passage, down to the uncut pages, is a gem. And it is rich in multiple ironies, with natural vision being focused through thick glasses to reveal the genuine beneath the sham. Moreover, it is the nameless individual who is the sole man in the host of names who have attended Gatsby's parties. It is he alone (along with Nick Carraway) who returns to Gatsby's funeral in the rain to deliver the real invocation "The poor son-of-a-bitch".
Gatsby's career, his "greatness", which is at once heroic and grotesque, is of course the centre of the novel. That career, an archetype of the American business story, begins, as so many careers do, by chance, Jay Gatsby learns his business techniques from Dan Cody, who is made in the image of the robber barons, those unscrupulous men who, in post- Civil War America, built empires in coal, oil, railroads and various other enterprises. Gatsby feels the savagery of that way of life when, upon Cody's death, he is cheated out of the money the old man had left him.
Such is the reality of Jay Gatsby's preparation for his rise to fortune and for his career. It is Gatsby's dream that establishes the ultimate congruence of fancy and fact. For the dream is held with a passionate intensity that transforms fact. The dream is of course of Daisy, who represents for Gatsby the ultimate possibility of accomplishment and fulfilment.
But reflecting on Gatsby's end, Nick says: "... he must have felt that he had lost the old warm world, paid a high price for living too long with a single dream". Alas, the dream fails, leaving Gatsby in "a new world, material without being real".
His dream belied his common humanity. He has been the Great Gatsby. His death gives him back his humanity. And if Nick is correct and Gatsby sees "a new world, material without being real" at the end with the loss of his dream, it gives him another kind of greatness, the greatness that comes with tragic insight.
In any case, Nick is certainly right when on an impulse of the heart, he turns to Gatsby for the last time and shouts across the lawn: "They're a rotten crowd... You're worth the whole damn bunch put together". And the rotten crowd includes also the Buchanans, the Bakers, the East Egg crowd as well.
In its totality "The Great Gatsby" sketches the evolution of America from a "fresh green breast of the new world" to a "valley of ashes", from a continent with a spirit "commensurate to man's capacity for wonder" to a place of nightmare, exhaustion and death'.
The following excerpts from the essays (by Marius Bewley, Arthur Mizener, etc.) will be of some help to you while discussing the novel "The Great Gatsby", F.Scott Fitzgerald's style and literary activity.
Render the main points of the essays and comment on them.
Scott Fitzgerald's Criticism of America by Marius Bewley
Critics of F.Scott Fitzgerald tend to agree that "The Great Gatsby" is somehow a commentary on that elusive phrase, the American dream. The assumption seems to be that Fitzgerald approved. On the contrary, it can be shown that "The Great Gatsby" offers some of the severest and closest criticism of the American dream that cut literature affords. Read in this way, Fitzgerald's masterpiece ceases to be a pastoral documentary of the Jazz and takes its distinguished place among those great national novels whose profound corrective insights into the nature of American experience are not separable from the artistic novel itself. This is to say, Fitzgerald - at least in this one book - is in a line with the greatest masters of the American prose.
Arthur Mizencr (A collection of critical essays)
Scott Fitzgerald's best work in fact grows out of his precise understanding of his time, cut of a concentration on the actualities of his world unequaled in the work of any contemporary. He lived, as Malcolm Lowley once put it, in a room full of clocks and calendars, haunted by the minute particulars that represented any given year and its attitudes because the precise quality of the feeling associated with these particulars was so vivid to him.
This ("The Great Gatsby") is not social histoiy or even nostalgically evocative social history; if it is history at all, it is the history of a consciousness. What Lionel Trilling says of "The Great Gatsby" is true of all Fitzgerald's best works: "It keeps fresh because it is so specifically conscious of its time... its continuing power comes from the courage with which it grasps a moment in history as a great moral fact..."
What is true of Hemingway is true of Fitzgerald, who lived far more than Hemingway the life of his times. That life... was his means of conveying his understanding of life. As he himself well knew, it was "my material... all I had to deal with".
The revolutionary change in manners that occurred during the twenties... was accompanied by a sudden flourishing of talented writers. There are the writers whom Gertrude Stain somewhat misleadingly named The Lost Generation - Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Faulkner, Dos Passes, Lewis, and the rest. They were anything but "lost" in the sense of being in
uncertainty or doubt. It was, to be sure, fashionable in the twenties among people you did not want to know to talk about being disillusioned...
The writers of the twenties were not disillusioned. They were only released from what seemed to them the stifling restrictions of the previous generation's narrow, hypocritical attitudes, into a freedom that was heady with optimism. As Fitzgerald remarks afterwards, "It seemed only a question of a few years before the older people would step aside and let the world be run by those who saw things as they were - and it all seemed rosy and romantic to us who were young then..." This is not the attitude of a lost generation...
It is rather an attitude of the first generation of a country that has become capable of imagining its own greatness. It is not easy to determine how much the work of these young writers had to do with causing the change in our manners that came about in the twenties how much that change had to do with releasing their talents, in any event, the two things occurred together.
Until very near the end of his life Fitzgerald felt that life was unendurable without a belief in the possibility of realizing some romantic dream of a meaningful existence. In a letter to a friend about Gatsby he said that "the whole burden of this novel is the loss of those illusions that give such color to the world so that you don't care whether things are true or false so long as they partake of the magical glory". That is why when Daisy destroys Gatsby's faith and his dream at last breaks up, he finds himself in "a new world, material without being real", and, in effect, chooses to die.
In expressing these feelings - the feelings that life is unendurable without a belief in the possibility of a meaningful existence, and the feeling that the world conspires to make such a belief impossible - Fitzgerald spoke for his own time and perhaps, in a broader sense, for all generations of Americans - as the ending of the Great Gatsby, with its overt reference to our American past, suggests he himself felt.
F.Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby" By John Henry Raleigh
F.Scott Fitzgerald's character Gatsby, as has often been said, represents the irony of American history and the corruption of the American dream. While this certainly is true, yet even, here with this general legend, Fitzgerald has rung in his own characteristics changes doubling and redoubling ironies. At the center of the legend proper there is the relationship between Europe and America and the ambiguous interaction between the contradictory impulses of Europe that led to the original setting of America and its subsequent development: mercantilism and idealism. At either end of American history, and all the way through, the two impulses have a way of being both radically exclusive and confusing, the one melting into the other: the human faculty of wonder on the one hand, and the power and beauty of things on the other.
"The Great Gatsby" dramatized this confusing ambiguity directly in the life of Gatsby and retrospectively by a glance at history at the end of the novel. Especially does it do so in two passages of the novel... The two passages are:
1. The real Gatsby looking on the real Daisy, and
2. The imaginary Dutchman, whom Nick conjures up at the end of the novel, looking on the "green breast" of Long Island.
Here is the description of Gatsby and Daisy:
"Out of the corner of his eye Gatsby saw the little blocks of the sidewalks really formed a ladder and mounted to a secret place above the trees - he could climb to it, he climbed alone, and once there he could suck on the pap of life, gulp down incomparable milk of wonder..."
And below is Nick's imaginative reconstruction of the legendary Dutchman. He is sprawled on the sand at night with Gatsby's mansion behind him and Long Island Sound in front of him:
"And as the moon rose higher the inessential houses began to melt away until gradually I became aware of the old island here that flowered once for Dutch sailors' eyes - a fresh green breast of the new world. Its vanished trees that had made way for Gatsby's house, had once pandered in whispers to the last and greatest of all human dreams; for a transitory unchanged moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an aesthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder".
The repetition in the two passages of the words "wonder" and "flower" hardly needs comment... or the star-lit, moonlit setting in both. For these are central symbols in the book; the boundless imagination trying to transfigure under the stars the endlessly beautiful object. Now, of course, the Dutchmen and Gatsby are utterly different types of being and going in different directions. The Dutchmen are pure matter, momentarily and unwillingly raised into the realism of the spirit, while Gatsby is pure spirit coming down to earth. They pass one another, so to speak, at the moment when ideal and reality seem about to converge.
Historically, the Dutch, Iegendarily stolid, pursued their mercantile ways and produced finally a Tom Buchanan but also, it should be remembered, a Nick Carraway.
But their ecstatic moment hung on in the air, like an aroma, intoxicating prophets, sages, poets, even poor farm boys in twentieth- century Dakota. The heady insubstantiability of the dream and the heavy intractability of the reality were expressed by Van Wyck Brooks (who could well have been Fitzgerald's philosopher in these matters) in his "The Wine of Puritans" as follows:
"You put the old wine (Europeans) into new bottles (American continent)... and when the explosion results, one may say, the aroma passes into the air and the wine spills on the floor. The aroma or the ideal, turns into transcendentalism and the wine or the real, becomes commercialism".
No one knew better than Gatsby that nothing could finally match the splendors of his own imagination, and the novel would suggest finally that not only had the American dream been corrupted but that it was, in part anyway, necessarily corrupted, for it asked too much. Nothing of his earth, even the most beautiful of earthly objects, could be anything but a perversion of it.
"The Great Gatsby"... begins in a dramatization of the basic thesis of the early Van Wyck Brooks: that America had produced an idealism so impalpable that it had lost touch with reality (Gatsby) and a materialism so heavy that it was inhuman (Tom Buchanan). The novel as a whole is another turn of the screw on the legend, with impossible idealism trying to realize itself, to its utter destruction, in the gross materiality. As Nick says of Gatsby at the end of the novel:
"...his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it".
Yet he imagines too that Gatsby, before his moment of death, must have had his "realization" of the intractable brutishness of matter:
"...he must have felt that he had lost the old warm world, paid a high price of living too long with a single dream".
"The Great Gatsby" does not deal with local customs or even national and international legends but with the permanent realities of existence. On this level nothing or nobody is to blame, and people are what they are and life is what it is, just as, in Bishop Bulter's words: "things are what they are". At this level too most people don't count; they are merely a higher form of animality living out its mundane existence: the Tom Buchanans, the Gordon Bakers, the Daisy Fays. Only Nick and Gatsby count, for Gatsby, with all his absurdities and his short, sad pathetic life, is still valuable, in Nick's parting words to him: "You're worth the whole damn bunch put together". Nick, who in his way is as much of this world as Daisy is in hers, still sees, obscurely, the significance of Gatsby. And although he knows that the content of Gatsby's dream is corrupt, he senses that its form is pristine. For, in his own fumbling, often gross way, Gatsby was obsessed with the wonder of human life and driven by the search to make that wonder actual. It is the same urge that motivates visionaries and prophets, the urge to make the facts of life measure up to the splendors of the human imagination, but it is utterly pathetic in Gatsby's case because he is trying to do it so subjectively and so uncouthly, and with dollar bills. Still Nick's obscure instinct that Gatsby is essentially all right is sound. It often seems as if the novel is about the contrast between the two, but the bond between them reveals that they are not opposites but rather complements, opposed together, to all the other characters in the novel.
Taken together they contain most of the essential polarities that go to make up the human mind and its existence. Allegorically considered, Nick is reason, experience, waking, reality, and history, while Gatsby is imagination, innocence, sleeping, dream, and eternity. Nick is listening to "the still sad music of humanity", while Gatsby is seeing hosts of angels in the sun. The one can "only look" at the facts and see them as tragic; the other tries to transform the facts by an act of the imagination. Nick's mind is conservative and historical, as is his lineage; Gatsby's is radical and apocalyptic - as rootless as his heritage. Nick is too much immersed in time and in reality; Gatsby is hopelessly out of it. Nick is always withdrawing, while Gatsby pursues the green light Nick can't be hurt, but neither can be happy. Gatsby can experience ecstasy, but his fate is necessarily tragic. They are genericaily two of the best types of humanity; the moralist and the radical.
The eyes of Dr. Ecklerburg: a re-examination of "The Great Gatsby"
It is possible to read "The Great Gatsby" and remain content with a single symbol: the green light at the end of Daisy's dock. To those who do not feel a need to inquire further, the light obviously stands for what Nick Carraway says it stands for: "the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us". True, even the most pragmatic reader may wish to add that the green light also represents to Gatsby projection of his wished: a signal to go ahead, to "beat on... against the current", to attempt so desperately with his "unbroken series of successful gestures" the recapturing of the past which he can never attain.
Put there is still more in "The Great Gatsby" than a protagonist, a plot, and a green light. Many elements in the story, perhaps, will puzzle the practical-minded, for on the level or simple narrative they cannot be accounted for. What does one make, for example, of the faded blue eyes of Dr. T.G.Eckleburg, those staring, vacant, yet somewhat terrible eyes so much more than abandoned signboard; of the ash heap and its "ash- gray men, who move dimly and already crumbling through the powdery air" over which the eyes brood changelessly; of George Wilson's despairing mutter as he gazed at the eyes. "You may fool me, but you can't fool God!"
And there is the matter, too, of the all scene in which Nick and Jordan discuss Jordan's carelessness with automobiles. One could easily find structural reasons for such a conversation between Nick and Daisy, or Gatsby and Daisy, for it is Daisy who runs down Myrtle Wilson. But why emphasize Jordan's inability to handle an automobile safely? I believe the answer to this question and the others I have posed are concerned with a more complex organization than is commonly assumed, an organization of symbols...
...Fitzgerald - as Fitzgerald and Fitzgerald - as Carraway, the gleeman of the Gatsby saga, are not the same, though both appear alternately throughout the novel, interwinding like the threads in a fabric whose sheen depends not only on the materials out of which it is made but on the light in which it is viewed.
It seems to me a very interesting fact that overt theme of "The Great Gatsby" has little to do, actually with the novels use of symbols. It is indeed likely, as a matter of fact, that the subdominant motif... very often overshadows what Fitzgerald apparently intended to be his principal theme. Of course, it is true that in making its point about the paradoxical futility of an attempt to recapture the past, the Great Gatsby obviously also says much more; one measure of its greatness is the complex and ironic quality of Gatsby's attempt to beat against the current. For he - and he alone, barring Carraway - survives sound and whole in character, uncorrupted by the corruption which surrounded him, which was responsible for him; from his attempt at the childishly impossible he emerges with dignity and maturity. Yet no major work of fiction with which I am acquainted reserves its symbols for the subtheme...
In other words, Nick as Nick is one thing, and Fitzgerald as himself is another - something... which Fitzgerald admits in a letter... Thus the novel may very well involve not merely the theme which Nick presents in his own character, but also another which may be called, for lack of a better name, the "Fitzgerald theme". And it is towards the latter, I believe that almost all the symbolism in "The Great Gatsby" is directed.
Nick Carraway, as Nick, could very well point everything he said towards the magnificent and at he same time sordid spectacle, Gatsby; could praise in Gatsby "something gorgeous... some heightened sensitivity to the promises of life"... But F.Scott Fitzgerald is the one who introduces, 1 think unconsciously, a fascinating examination of certain values only peripherally related to Gatsby's rise, his dream and his physical downfall. And if we turn to this other area, this non- Carraway thematic possibility, we see at once that "The Great Gatsby" is not a study of illusion and integrity, but carelessness. Our "second" theme - perhaps the more important regardless of Fitzgerald's original intention - becomes a commentary on the nature and values, or lack of them, of the reckless ones.
Fitzgerald F.Scott (Francis Scott), 1896-1940
The dominant influences on F.Scott Fitzgerald were aspiration, literature, Princeton, Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald, and alcohol.
Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald was bom in St.Paul, Minnesota, on September 24, 1896, the namesake and second cousin three times removed of the author of the National Anthem. Fitzgerald's given names indicate his parents' pride in his father's ancestry, His father, Edward, was from Maryland, with an allegiance to the Old South and its values. Fitzgerald's mother, Mary (Mollie) McQuillan, was the daughter of an Irish immigrant who became wealthy as a wholesale grocer in St. Paul. Both were Catholics.
Edward Fitzgerald failed as a manufacturer of wicker furniture in St.Paul, and he became a salesman for Procter & Gamble in upstate New York. After he was dismissed in 1908, when his son was twelve, the family returned to St. Paul and lived comfortably on Mollie Fitzgerald's inheritance. Fitzgerald attended the St. Paul Academy; his first writing to appear in print was a detective story in the school newspaper when he was thirteen.
During 1911-1913 he attended the Newman School, a Catholic prep school in New Jersey, where he met Father Sigourney Fay, who encouraged his ambitions for personal distinction and achievement. As a member of the Princeton Class of 1917, Fitzgerald neglected his studies for his literary apprenticeship. He wrote the scripts and lyrics for the Princeton Triangle Club musicals and was a contributor to the Princeton Tiger humor magazine and the Nassau Literary Magazine. His college friends included Edmund Wilson and John Peale Bishop. On academic probation and unlikely to graduate, Fitzgerald joined the army in 1917 and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the infantry. Convinced that he would die in the war, he rapidly wrote a novel, "The Romantic Egotist"; the letter of rejection from Charles Scribner's Sons praised the novel's originality and asked that it be resubmitted when revised.
In June 1918 Fitzgerald was assigned to Camp Sheridan, near Montgomery, Alabama. There he fell in love with a celebrated belle, eighteen-year-old Zelda Sayre, the youngest daughter of an Alabama Supreme Court judge. The romance intensified Fitzgerald's hopes for the success of his novel, but after revision it was rejected by Scribners for a second time. The war ended just before he was to be sent overseas; after his discharge in 1919 he went to New York City to seek his fortune in order to marry. Unwilling to wait while Fitzgerald succeeded in the advertisement business and unwilling to live on his small salary, Zelda broke their engagement.
Fitzgerald quit his job in July 1919 and returned to St.Paul to rewrite his novel as "This Side of Paradise", it was accepted by editor Maxwell Perkins of Scribners in September. Set mainly at Princeton and described by its author as "a quest novel," "This Side of Paradise" traces the career aspirations and love disappointments of Amory Elaine.
In the fall-winter of 1919 Fitzgerald commenced his career as a writer of stories for the mass-circulation magazines. Working through agent Harold Ober, Fitzgerald interrupted work on his novels to write moneymaking popular fiction for the rest of his life. The Saturday Evening Post became Fitzgerald's best story market, and he was regarded as a "Post writer." His early commercial stories about young love introduced a fresh character: the independent, determined young American woman who appeared in "The Offshore Pirate" and "Bernice Bobs Her Hair." Fitzgerald's more ambitious stories, such as "May Day" and "The Diamond as Big as the Ritz," were published in The Smart Set, which had a small circulation.
The publication of "This Side of Paradise" on March 26, 1920, made the twenty-four-year-old Fitzgerald famous almost overnight, and a week later he married Zelda in New York. They embarked on an extravagant life as young celebrities. Fitzgerald endeavored to earn a solid literary reputation but his playboy image impeded the proper assessment of his work.
After a riotous summer in Westport, Connecticut, the Fitzgeralds took an apartment in New York City; there he wrote his second novel, "The Beautiful and Damned", a naturalistic chronicle of the dissipation of Anthony and Gloria Patch. When Zelda became pregnant they took their first trip to Europe in 1921 and then settled in St. Paul for the birth of their only child, Frances Scott (Scottie) Fitzgerald was born in October 1921.
Fitzgerald expected to becomc affluent from his play, "The Vegetable", in the fall of 1922 they moved to Great Neck, Long Island, in order to be near Broadway. The political satire - subtitled "From President to Postman" - failed at its tiyout in November 1923, and Fitzgerald wrote his way out of debt with short stories. The distractions of Great Neck and New York prevented Fitzgerald from making progress on his third novel. During this time his drinking increased. Fitzgerald was an alcoholic, but he wrote sober. Zelda regularly got "tight," but she was not an alcoholic. There were frequent domestic rows, usually triggered by drinking bouts.
Literary opinion makers were reluctant to accord Fitzgerald full marks as a serious craftsman. His reputation as a drinker inspired the myth that he was an irresponsible writer; yet he was a painstaking reviser whose fiction went through layers of drafts. Fitzgerald's clear, lyrical, colorful, witty style evoked the emotions associated with time and place. When critics objected to Fitzgerald's concern with love and success, his response was: "But, my God! it was my material, and it was all I had to deal with." The chief theme of Fitzgerald's work is aspiration - the idealism he regarded as defining American character. Another major theme was mutability or loss. As a social historian Fitzgerald became identified with "The Jazz Age": "It was an age of miracles, it was an age of art, it was an age of excess, and it was an age of satire."
The Fitzgeralds went to France in the spring of 1924 seeking tranquillity for his work. He wrote "The Great Gatsby" during the summer and fall in Valescure near St. Raphael, but the marriage was damaged by Zelda's involvement with a French naval aviator. The extent of the affair - if it was in fact consummated - is not known. On the Riviera the Fitzgeralds formed a close friendship with Gerald and Sara Murphy.
The Fitzgeralds spent the winter of 1924 - 1925 in Rome, where he revised "The Great Gatsby"; they were en route to Paris when the novel was published in April. "The Great Gatsby" marked a striking advance in Fitzgerald's technique, utilizing a complex structure and a controlled narrative point of view. Fitzgerald's achievement received critical praise,
but sales of Gatsby were disappointing, though the stage and movie rights brought additional income.
In Paris Fitzgerald met Ernest Hemingway — then unknown outside the expatriate literary circle - with whom he formed a friendship based largely on his admiration for Hemingway's personality and genius. The Fitzgeralds remained in France until the end of 1926, alternating between Paris and the Riviera.
Fitzgerald made little progress on his fourth novel, a study of American expatriates in France provisionally titled "The Boy Who Killed His Mother," "Our Type," and "The World's Fair." During these years Zelda's unconventional behavior became increasingly eccentric.
The Fitzgeralds returned to America to escape the distractions of France. After a short, unsuccessful stint of screen writing in Hollywood, Fitzgerald rented "EJlerslie," a mansion near Wilmington, Delaware, in the spring of 1927. The family remained at "Ellerslie" for two years interrupted by a visit to Paris in the summer of 1928, but Fitzgerald was still unable to make significant progress on his novel. At this time Zelda commenced ballet training, intending to become a professional dancer. The Fitzgeralds returned to France in the spring of 1929, where Zelda's intense ballet work damaged her health and estranged them. In April 1930 she suffered her first breakdown. Zelda was treated at Prangins clinic in Switzerland until September 1931, while Fitzgerald lived in Swiss hotels. Work on the novel was again suspended as he wrote short stories to pay for psychiatric treatment.
Fitzgerald's peak story fee of $4,000 from The Saturday Evening Post may have had in 1929 the purchasing power of $40,000 in 1994 dollars. Nonetheless, the general view of his affluence is distorted. Fitzgerald was not among the highest-paid writers of his time; his novels earned comparatively little, and most of his income came from 160 magazine stories. During the 1920s his income from all sources averaged under $25,000 a year - good money at a time when a schoolteacher's average annual salary was $1,299, but not a fortune. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald did spend money faster than he earned it; the author who wrote so eloquently about the effects of money on character was unable to manage his own finances.
The Fitzgeralds returned to America in the fall of 1931 and rented a house in Montgomery. Fitzgerald made a second unsuccessful trip lo Hollywood in 1931. Zelda suffered a relapse in February 1932 and entered Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. She spent the rest of her life as a resident or outpatient of sanitariums.
In 1932, while a patient at Johns Hopkins, Zelda rapidly wrote Save Me the Waltz. Her autobiographical novel generated considerable bitterness between the Fitzgeralds, for he regarded it as pre-empting the material that he was using in his novel-in-progress. Fitzgerald rented "La Paix," a house outside Baltimore, where he completed his fourth novel, "Tender Is the Night". Published in 1934, his most ambitious novel was a commercial failure, and its merits were matters of critical dispute. Set in France during the 1920s, "Tender Is the Night" examines the deterioration of Dick Diver, a brilliant American psychiatrist, during the course of his marriage to a wealthy mental patient.
The 1936-1937 period is known as "the crack-up" from the title of an essay Fitzgerald wrote in 1936. Ill, drunk, in debt, and unable to write commercial stories, he lived in hotels in the region near Asheville, North Carolina, where in 1936 Zelda entered Highland Hospital. After Baltimore Fitzgerald did not maintain a home for Scottie. When she was fourteen she went to boarding school, and the Obers became her surrogate family. Nonetheless, Fitzgerald functioned as a concerned father by mail, attempting to supervise Scottie's education and to shape her social values.
Fitzgerald went to Hollywood alone in the summer of 1937 with a six month Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer contract at $1,000 a week. He received his only screen credit for adapting "Three Comrades" (1938), and his contract was renewed for a year at $1,250 a week. This $91,000 from MGM was a great deal of money during the late Depression years when a new Chevrolet coupe cost $619; although Fitzgerald paid off most of his debts, he was unable to save. His trips East to visit Zelda were disastrous. In California Fitzgerald fell in love with movie columnist Sheilah Graham. Their relationship endured despite his benders. After MGM dropped his option at the end of 1938, Fitzgerald worked as a freelance script writer and wrote short-short stories for Esquire. He began his Hollywood novel, "The Love of the Last Tycoon", in 1939 and had written more than half of a working draft when he died of a heart attack in Graham's apartment on December 21, 1940. Zelda Fitzgerald perished in a fire in Highland Hospital in 1948.
F.Scott Fitzgerald died believing himself a failure. The obituaries were condescending, and he seemed destined for literary obscurity. The first phase of the Fitzgerald resurrection - "revival" does not properly describe the process - occurred between 1945 and 1950. By I960 he had achieved a secure place among America's enduring writers: "The Great Gatsby", a work that seriously examines the theme of aspiration in an American setting, defines the classic American novel .
The Fitzgeralds sailed to France in mid-May of 1924 when Fitzgerald was "seeking tranquility for his work" (Bruccoli, Brief). Fitzgerald wrote "The Great Gatsby" during the summer and fall while living in Valescure near St. Raphael, France. During the summer in which he wrote about Gatsby's love for a married woman, Zelda, his wife of four years, became infatuated with a French aviator, Edouard Jozan. The tension that this brought to their young marriage no doubt informed Fitzgerald's construction of the novel. He revised Gatsby during the winter while in Rome. 'The Great Gatsby" was published on April 10, 1925 while the Fitzgeralds were on their way to Paris.
Early reviews of Gatsby were decidedly mixed. The Milwaukee Journal (May 1, 1925) reported that that novel "is decidedly contemporary: today it is here, tomorrow - well, there will be no tomorrow. It is only as permanent as a newspaper story, and as on the surface." America (New York, May 30, 1925) concluded that it "is an inferior novel, considered from any angle whatsoever. It is feeble in theme, in portraiture, and even in expression." The Independent (St. Petersburg, Fl, May 2, 1925) concluded that Fitzgerald's attempt at tragedy "somehow has the flavor of skimmed milk." The Springfield Republican called it, "A little slack, a little soft, more than a little artificial. "The Great Gatsby" falls into the class of negligible novels.
The St.Louis Globe-Democrat (April 25, 1925) described Gatsby as "a more thoughtful, better balanced book than anything Fitzgerald has done up to the present time and promises much for his future." The Minneapolis Sunday Tribune (April 19, 1925) concluded that Gatsby is "an ironical panorama of the weakness of the strong and the strength of the weak," and Fitzgerald has made "the outstanding theme of the story that rare and beautiful quality, friendship, which stands by one through thick and then." Book Review Digest (May 23, 1925) wrote that The Great Gatsby "is a strong combination of satire, burlesque, fantasy, and melodrama. It is Fitzgerald writing with his old gusto, with driving imagination, and with the sense of the futility of life and the constant presence of bootleggers."
The original publisher of Gatsby is Charles Scribner's Sons, and it was the legendary editor-mentor, Maxwell Perkins, who worked with
Fitzgerald toward the publication of his manuscript. Scribner's printed a first run of 20,870 copies. A second run consisted of 3,000 copies four months later. Gatsby represents the pinnacle of his writing in terms of examining the "quest" theme that Fitzgerald identified as a dominant theme in American culture - old as the personification of Ben Franklin, the first American citizen to achieve world recognition - a model that drives the ambitions of Jay Gatsby. In "A Brief Life of Fitzgerald," Matthew J. Bruccoli writes that, "By 1960, he had achieved a secure place among America's induring writers: "The Great Gatsby", a work that seriously examines the theme of aspiration in an American setting, defines the classical American novel."