The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald
It's pretty amazing that I'd never read this novel before. All I can say is that it wasn't on the syllabus when I was in high school, nor on the syllabus when I was at university and since leaving university my taste in literature hasn't generally run to early 20th century American male writers. Not only had I not previously read Gatsby, but I've not seen a film adaptation of the novel, which means that I've come to it free from pre-conceptions. Although that's not really true: it's hard to escape having some ideas about a novel which finds its way onto most lists of important literary works (including Harold Bloom's The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages - for what that's worth).

My reaction is positive. Fitzgerald masterfully evokes the Jazz Age, with all of its brilliance and superficiality. His prose is clear and spare, with moments of great poetic beauty. Fitzgerald creates memorable characters, although they are mostly not particularly sympathetic. The exception is the narrator, Nick Carraway, whose role is similar to that of the chorus in Greek tragedy and who also provides something of a moral centre.

Fitgerald's tale of the corruption of the American dream is a bleak one. This is not a pleasant, easy read. But it is an interesting novel and one that I'm glad that I finally got around to reading.