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The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby (1925) is a short novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald set in New York in the 1920s. It has often been seen as the epitome of the so-called "Jazz Age".

Farrow and Redford in the 1974 version

Jay Gatsby is a young millionaire with a dubious past -- some say he made his money as a bootlegger during the Prohibition years. But despite the glamorous parties he throws, with their countless gatecrashers whom he generously tolerates, Gatsby is a lonely man. All he really wants is to "repeat the past" -- to be reunited with the love of his life, Daisy. But Daisy is now married to millionaire Tom Buchanan, and they have a little girl. Gatsby does not believe this could constitute a problem, and Daisy Buchanan actually feels flattered by Gatsby's attentions.

The first person narrator of the novel is Nick Carraway, a young lawyer who moves into the house next to Gatsby's estate and who keeps commenting on the protagonists' actions. Carraway soon realizes that Tom and Daisy are "careless people". When Gatsby lets Daisy drive his new car, she causes an accident in which Myrtle Wilson, Tom's mistress, is killed. So much in love with Daisy, Gatsby takes the blame and is consequently shot by Myrtle's desperate husband, a garage owner. Except for Gatsby's father, an old, poverty-stricken man, hardly anyone shows up for Gatsby's funeral.

Apart from depicting life in the fast lane during the "Roaring Twenties", the novel also discusses questions of racism through the character of Tom Buchanan who, on top of his loose morals, is also a white supremacist.

The Great Gatsby has been filmed four times:

  1. in 1926 by Herbert Brenon[?] -- a silent movie of which, according to the IMDb, no copies have survived;
  2. in 1949 by Elliott Nugent[?];
  3. in 1974 by Jack Clayton[?] -- often considered the definitive screen version, starring Robert Redford in the title role and Mia Farrow as Daisy Buchanan, with a script by Francis Ford Coppola; and finally
  4. in 2001 by Robert Markowitz[?] -- a made-for-TV movie starring Toby Stephens[?] and Mira Sorvino[?].

See Budd Schulberg[?]'s novel What Makes Sammy Run? for another rags to riches[?] story.

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