Tuesday, August 6, 2013

F. Scott Fitzgeralds' Great Gatsby


Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York: Simon & Schuster, Inc., 1992.
 Anyone can say, "Oh, yeah--Fitzgerald was a good writer." The merit in reading a good novel by a good writer is learning what is it that makes good writing.
Let's take a look at this sentence: 

 Though I was curious to see her I had no desire to meet her—but I did (Fitzgerald 28).

Fitzgerald begins his sentence with a subordinating conjunction, which makes the sentence a complex sentence: that is, composed of two independent clauses. One of the clauses is subordinate to the other, which the reader will think is more important. Is this sentence an accident? Did it just happen in the 'heat of writing?' I don't think so. Fine writing is premeditated.

Let's take a look at another sentence:

Wolfshiem, forgetting the more sentimental atmosphere of the old Metropole, began to eat with ferocious delicacy (Fitzgerald 75).

 What makes this sentence attractive? If we look closely we'll see that Fitzgerald is using a rhetorical figure: the oxymoron 'ferocious delicacy.' An oxymoron is a trope which bears an apparent logical contradiction. When readers are confronted with an oxymoron, they will be jolted out of a leisured reading and sort of yanked into paying attention. In some cases the author will use this figure to create humor.

Quiz time: what is unique to the below sentence?

I bought a dozen volumes on banking and credit and investment securities and they stood on my shelf in red and gold like new money from the mint, promising to unfold the shining secrets that only Midas and Morgan and Maecenas knew (Fitzgerald 8).

HINT:  focus on the 'm' sound.


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