I certainly was, particularly after looking at the excesses of the roaring twenties with its glitzy parties and hedonistic lifestyle, which are enough to make my legs tap and hands dance in the air. And of course, it is all about the flapper girls. Following the return of the 60s fashion trend, thanks to Mad Men. I was literally swooning over the short hair, straight-cut dress, cloche hat and boyish charms of the flapper girls.
On a recent trip to a second-hand bookstore, I spotted the book and took it as a sign it is time to read the story by F. Scott Fitzgerald. It was as good as gold.
“Her voice is full of money,” he (Jay Gatsby) said suddenly.
That was it. I’d never understood before. It was full of money – that was the inexhaustible charm that rose and fell in it, the tingle of it, the cymbals’ song of it. High in a white palace the king’s daughter, the golden girl…”
This has been made into such a classic American literature that academics and many students have read, studied and analyzed the text inside out.
This is because of its overarching theme about the American Dream, which was carefully constructed and embodied by the book’s larger-than-life character Jay Gatsby. He is a former war veteran who clambered his way up into the upper echelons of the society as a self-made businessman.
“It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced- or seemed to face – the whole eternal world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor.”
Under Gatsby’s aloof appearance, the self-made businessman was single-mindedly obsessed with his former flame Daisy Buchanan despite knowing that she is married.
‘He hadn’t once ceased looking at Daisy, and I think he reva
lued everything in his house according to the measure of response it drew from her well-loved eyes. Sometimes, too, he stared around at his possessions in a dazed way, as though in her actual and astounding presence none of it was any longer real. Once he nearly toppled down a flight of stairs.”
But all that glitters is not gold. When Gatsby’s rags-to-riches story ended up in a tragedy, I felt a pang of sadness when I realized at the heart of the American Dream is but an empty and materialistic fantasy. This might be a reflection of the 1920s reality but does not seem too remotely different from the state of today’s capitalist society.
That is probably what I love when it comes to reading classics – evergreen, thought provoking and records a cultural moment in history.
Here is the film’s teaser to get you guys rolling in the vibrancy of the post-war decadent lifestyle and check out the flapper dresses!