Wednesday, July 6, 2011

That Nice Fellow Jay Gatsby

Here is a post by Roger Ebert that likely most of you have seen by now. I'm happy to not be the only curmudgeonly old man on the internet.

Anyway, there is no good to be done by paraphrasing great works of literature, because the work itself is the point. Fitzgerald's vibrant, provocative language is at least half of the experience of Gatsby. When the paraphrase changes/misses the essential meaning of the original work, we're no longer even talking about that work, are we? So what't the point of it? They are not equivalent at all. Approaching apoplexy now. Must stop.


  1. I think this line summed it up nicely:

    Fitzgerald's novel is not about a story. It is about how the story is told.

  2. Argh. That made me want to pull my hair out.

    I read The Great Gatsby for the first time in the 10th grade and I had no problem with the language or vocabulary. It was a great experience and I've never forgotten it. I hate to think that someone out there will be presented with this unspeakably crappy dumbed up version.

  3. I keep running into this idea that some books are so "difficult" that they should be simplified so that they're easier on the readers. Why don't we create better readers who are prepared to read better books? Why don't we teach that good fiction challenges readers, provokes them and might make them work a little bit? Must everything be pabulum now? And Gatsby isn't a "difficult" text anyway. Grrr.