I love The Great Gatsby a lot. It has occupied a place in my top three favourite novels since I re-read it in first year uni and suddenly realised what I had failed to the first time I read it: It's a perfect novel.
For a long time during my extremely pretentious years (yes, they have finished. Also: shut up) I had this quote -
"And as I sat there, brooding on the old unknown world, I thought of Gatsby's wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night.- on the wall of my bedroom as the centrepiece of this totally mad wall quotes thing I had going on for awhile and which my parents somehow greeted with endless patience. Yes I was an insufferable child but honestly I could read and re-read that little but all day it's just so gorgeous.
Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter — tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther.... And one fine morning — So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."
Once upon a time the prospect of having a favourite novel made into a movie would have terrified me. Lord knows, I have complained constantly about the string of shitty movies based on Philip K Dick short stories - another author over whom I feel a mild and entirely ridiculous sense of ownership. I don't like seeing things I love interpreted by someone else. I have no sense of generosity, only a burning feeling of entitlement that everything should belong to me and me only.
Yet somehow - how I do not know - I have achieved a zen like calm ahead of tomorrow night's screening of Gatsby.
I like a lot of Baz Luhrmann's movies, I like his flashy, simultaneously sentimental and incredibly unsentimental style and I think it suits the source material well but that's not it. I have suitably lowered my expectations, thanks to a fair smattering of mixed reviews, but that's not it either. Somehow I have realised at the tender age of 30 what has eluded me thus far: the realisation that even if the movie is shit it doesn't actually diminish the book. At all. Even if it's a stinking pile of poo I will still have that book to read as many times as I want.
These lovely lines -
"They're a rotten crowd," I shouted across the lawn. "You're worth the whole damn bunch put together." I’ve always been glad I said that. It was the only compliment I ever gave him, because I disapproved of him from beginning to end. First he nodded politely, and then his face broke into that radiant and understanding smile, as if we’d been in ecstatic cahoots on that fact all the time."- will be mine for as long as I want them. Which is quite a comforting thought really.