The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Paperback | Barnes & Noble®

Considered by many to be the greatest novel that was ever written, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby is a masterful depiction of life during America’s Jazz Age. At a time when wealth and social status translated into parties and romance, Fitzgerald adeptly captures the essence of the Roaring Twenties in this novel that has persevered for nearly one hundred years.

The story is told through the eyes of Nick Carraway, an outsider with outside perspectives on the people living around him on the West Egg of Long Island. One particularly enigmatic resident is the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby, a man with a mysterious past. Over the course of his time there, Nick discovers Gatsby’s all-consuming love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, and how Gatsby’s endless desperation to win her love and devotion has driven all of his actions.

Using Nick to stage a reunion between Gatsby and Daisy, the two proceed to embark on a romantic relationship, despite Daisy’s marriage to Tom Buchanan. Unfortunately for the two lovers, Tom eventually finds out about the affair, and that spells out the beginning of the end for both Daisy and Gatsby.

As timeless as the time during which The Great Gatsby is set, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel is a fantastic glimpse into America’s past, as well as into the thoughts and actions of the wealthy and the ordinary, making it relevant to every reader in modern times.

-Mahak M.

Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser

Sister Carrie - Kindle edition by Dreiser, Theodore. Literature ...

Carrie, a country girl, came to Chicago with a longing for the city. Carrie soon felt disappointed after a while. She lived in her sister’s house, and the shabby and humiliating conditions destroyed her dreams. At that moment Drouet, whom Carrie had met on the train, appeared. He extended a generous hand and offered financial help, and the two moved in together. The present life was a little like the one she had dreamed of, but she found that the relationship was not right. Then he meets Hurstwood, a publican, and they flirt and fall in love. Often, as they walked among the lights and the wine and the food, Carrie saw the congruity between dream and reality. However, such a life can not come so easily. Something happened to the landlord. In desperation, Hurstwood fled to New York with Carrie. For the rest of his life, the tavern owner was stranded like a dog. Once again she experienced what hardship meant. By chance, Sister Carrie found work at the Opera, and her good looks and natural voice put to good use. She grew popular and wealthy, and Hurstwood became a worn and rusted machine before her eyes. She left Hurstwood and lived a life of splendor alone which made Hurstwood kill himself.

This work is characterized by realism, which reveals the tragic fact of people’s fanatical pursuit of The American dream in the early 20th century. It reveals the instinctive theme that drives people to enjoy but ultimately disillusion and shows that there can be no real happiness in the money-centered American capitalist society. It can be seen from the novel that Carrie’s degeneration has certain social factors. First of all, due to the capitalist system at that time, Carrie was the representative of a group of people at the bottom of society. She was forced by a hard life and had to go down the road. On the other hand, it stems from Carrie’s dissatisfaction with the present situation of life and her constant pursuit of a higher life to satisfy her desire, which leads the man on whom she constantly depends to embark on this degenerate road. It was social and objective that Carrie had lost her job. It was this objective factor that led Carrie down a depraved path. Even when Hurstwood had told her that he had a wife, his financial ability and social position still attracted Carrie so deeply that she followed him to New York. For this man was able to gratify Carrie’s desires and her great vanity. Because in society at that time, having money meant still having a good quality of life. Having a high social status is not the value orientation of Carrie alone, but the value orientation of the whole society. It is this value orientation that influences a group of women from the countryside like Carrie to take this path.

-Coreen C.

Book Review: Humboldt’s Gift by Saul Bellow

Humboldt's Gift (Penguin Classics): Bellow, Saul, Eugenides ...

Born into a Hungarian Jewish immigrant family, Von Humboldt Fleischer had the romantic temperament of a poet. Many things were sacred in his eyes, and he dreamed of transforming the world with art. But his success did not last long, and he was vilified by some unscrupulous writers. By the end of the 1940s his romanticism was out of date and the era of fanaticism and poetry was over. Art could not transform society, so he tried to get involved in politics, but his bad luck was so bad that he was sent to an insane asylum. Although he was released from the hospital, he soon died in a New York tavern and was buried in a funeral mound. Charles Citrine was the son of Russian Jewish immigrants. After his rise to fame, he went to New York to follow the great poet where Humboldt helped him to become a university lecturer and to write a historical play based on him.

While Humboldt was very poor, Citrine’s play was a hit on Broadway. Fame was followed by money and beauty and he lived a life of luxury. The temptation of material broke his worship of the authority of art and his pursuit of serious thoughts, which made him lose his creative inspiration. At the same time, he could not get rid of the intellectual disposition. His life is full of material and spiritual contradictions, both want to enrich the human soul, but also want fame and wealth. His soul was lost in uncertainty and anguish. After years of spendthrift, divorceable wives, dissolute mistresses, lawyers, and social gangsters trying to cash in on him, he went broke and ended up in a cheap boarding house in Spain. Just when he was at his wit’s end, he was presented with Humboldt’s bequest — two script outlines, one of which has been made into a movie and has become a worldwide sensation. Humboldt’s gift not only saved his life and future, but also gave him a deeper understanding of Humboldt’s pain and madness along with the fate of intellectuals.

“Humboldt’s Gift” is a genre painting of contemporary American society. No street, no building, no car, no dress, and no hairdo is imaginary. Even fictional characters are based on real people living in the real world. “Humboldt’s Gift” is a panorama of American society on a grand scale. From hooligans to senators, from the White House to chicken joints, from mystics to mafia-controlled booty shops, poets, scholars, cultural crooks, big money gamblers, judges, lawyers, psychiatrists, and moneymakers, the list goes on and on.

-Coreen C.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, in all of it’s blue and gold shimmering splendor, is regarded as one of the greatest American novels of twentieth-century literature. Focusing on the story of Nick Carraway and his involvement with notoriously wealthy Jay Gatsby (followed by his legacy of the American dream and bitter love pursuit), The Great Gatsby dives into 1920’s American society in which the ideal life is painted as an extravagant party, born out of wealth and materialistic grandeur.

Hidden within the folds of Fitzgerald’s florid language — words of “yellow cocktail music,” a “universe of ineffable gaudiness,” “roaring noon” — the novel captivates the audience until it’s profound and raw close. The seamless flow of one thing to the next, the vivid images of a fast-paced and rich life, the timeless theory of long-lasting love and ambition: Fitzgerald renders a chaotic and recklessly beautiful portrait of the roaring 20’s Jazz Age and the world that buzzed within its history.

The incorporation of reoccurring symbols, such as the green light at the end of the dock or the constant juxtaposition of the colors yellow on blue, deepens the horizons to which The Great Gatsby stretches. Across the novel’s pages, Fitzgerald repetitively uses the colors yellow and blue to convey the ideas of truth versus wealth and false wealth in an abstract manner. Likewise, the green light brings the audience closer to Gatsby’s personal ambitions, his true substance over his outward actions.

Fitzgerald’s gradual characterization of each character increases the mysterious aura that revolves around Gatsby and those associated with him, wrapping the entire story into an enigmatic piece of literature rooted deeply in American history.

—Keira D.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Great Expectations (Dover Thrift Editions): Charles Dickens: 9780486415864:  Amazon.com: Books

With sympathetic and nuanced prose, the book portrays Joe, Pip and Biddy as unpretentious little men of kindness. Pip lives in his sister’s family, living a hard life, his dream is to be a blacksmith like his brother-in-law; he did not want to be a gentleman. Then he wanted to be a gentleman because of a change in circumstances. The theme of love runs through the story of Great Expectations. Pip’s unwavering love for Estella, Pip’s brotherly love for Herbert, Magwitch’s misshapen but deeply hidden love for Pip are all described in detail. But what moves us most is Jonah’s unselfish, unsentimental love, and Dickens’s most intimate description of the relationship between Pip and Joe. Then, when Pip’s hopes of inheritance were so completely dashed, and he fell seriously ill, it was Joe again, who not only gave him great moral support, but quietly helped him to pay off his debts. This kind of love leads Pip to return to conscience gradually in the constant inner struggle between right and wrong. In Great Expectations, the happy life of Joe and his wife Biddy contrasts sharply with Pip’s pursuit of a gentlemanly life. In them, we can see the writer’s praise for the valuable quality and sincere feelings of the ordinary people at the bottom of the society. Dickens’s characterization of people is not just a description of their appearance, but a detailed analysis of people through his unique humor and exaggerated language. He not only depicts the characters from the external environment, but also depicts the characters with the help of the detailed description of the characters’ movements, behaviors, gestures, expressions and so on. In the novel Great Expectations, the author Dickens portrays Pip as the first person perspective in the form of autobiographical in order to be able to express Pip’s psychological activities and action language in detail in the work.

Dombey and Son by Charles Dickens

Dombey and Son (Cronos Classics) eBook by Charles Dickens - 9782378073671 |  Rakuten Kobo Greece

In this work the author presents his views on the relationship between money and human nature. Dombey was haughty, imperious, and cruel when he had a great deal of money. After he went bankrupt, he confessed to his daughter and became both weak and kind. Florence and Gay took him in, and old Dombey, loving his grandson, lived a quiet and happy old age. Dombey and Son also truly reflects the development of industrial capitalism in Britain in the 1830s and 1840s, especially the development of the railway industry occupies an obvious place in the novel.

The work describes the vanity and hypocrisy of small citizens and the evil of the marriage system in Victorian England. The author tries to show the great corrosive and destructive effect of money on family relations (mainly father-son relations and husband-wife relations), which reflects the social reality that family relations have been reduced to the naked money relations in capitalist society. Paul’s premature death and Florence’s failure to seek her father’s love powerfully reveal the dominance of money and the fact that money is doomed to failure when it competes with emotion.

However, while criticizing the money relationship, the author tries to counter the money relationship with emotional education and moral influence. In fact, the root cause of Dombey’s transformation was his subsequent change in rank, and not the result of his daughter’s warmth. It must also be pointed out that it is obviously one-sided and inadequate for the author to attribute the monetization of family relations only to the conflict between money and emotion, which reflects the limitations of the author’s world view. Dombey and Son is a tightly structured novel created by Dickens, which is quite different from the loose structure in his earlier works.

The appearance of all the characters, and the development of the story, is arranged around the development of Mr. Dombey’s destiny, and the events are organically bound together, and the story is very lively and interesting. The artistic techniques Dickens used in his novels are varied. There are biting sarcasm, humor with a smile, objective descriptions, deliberate exaggerations, direct and simple statements, and also witty metaphors. Dickens’s characters are all alive. They have their own unique character, but also their own unique language. Even a dog, a parrot, a pair of tongs, and a curtain sometimes give vivid expression to their thoughts and feelings.