Seeing and Re-reading The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby is a perfect novel in many ways, and lots of people have different reasons for calling it their favorite. One of mine is this sentence:

The city seen from the Queensboro Bridge is always the city seen for the first time, in its first wild promise of all the mystery and beauty of the world. -F. Scott Fitzgerald

File by NickCPrior, licensed under the Creative Commons

Photo by NickCPrior, licensed under the Creative Commons

Much of Nick and Gatsby and Daisy’s Manhattan and Long Island are so different from the places I know today. But that promise, enchantment, mystery held by New York City, an energy created and consumed, remade and recycled by people living, visiting, working, playing, and dreaming there, is a constant.

It’s one of the things Baz Luhrmann’s film captures well. I wasn’t in love with the movie (and I expected to fall hard: Romeo + Juliet is an all-time favorite) but it was good, and it did stay very true to the book. I just expected it to push harder, be a more original interpretation and even more visually interesting. (A lot to ask, I know.)

The best part of the movie was the week before, re-reading the book in anticipation. In many ways it was like experiencing it for the first time, rediscovering perfect details. And this time, I had my 11th-grade self guiding me through, with (over-) detailed margin notes!