Maureen Corrigan’s new book, So We Read On: How The Great Gatsby Came to Be and Why It Endures, takes its title from the last line of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.
From Corrigan's Q & A with Laurie Hertzel for the Star Tribune:
Q: You call “Gatsby” the “one great American novel we think we’ve read but probably haven’t.” What do you mean?--Marshal Zeringue
A: We usually read “Gatsby” in high school when we’re too young to understand the regret and sense of loss that pervades the novel. Every character in “Gatsby” is stretching out his or her arms for someone or something eternally out of reach.
Gatsby stretches out his arms for Daisy (symbolized by that much-discussed green light at the end of her dock). Nick is reaching for his friend Gatsby, who’s dead at the beginning of this retrospective novel; Myrtle is reaching for Tom; Wilson is reaching for Myrtle, and on and on.
I think, as high school readers, we tend to be less alert to all this frustrated yearning and, instead, focus on the giddy exuberance of Gatsby’s parties and the obsessiveness of Gatsby’s love for Daisy.
We read the novel as a tragic romance rather than as a profound commentary on...[read on]