‘The Great Gatsby” is a great book, but to treat it like one is fatal. The 1925 novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald has been filmed numerous times, usually with the reverence of moviemakers approaching Literature on bended knee: the stolid 1974 Hollywood version, with Robert Redford miscast in the title role; a dreadful BBC production from 2000. What one wouldn’t give to see the lost 1926 silent version of “Gatsby,” made so close to the abyss Fitzgerald was chronicling.
The book is about societal madness and the all-American dream of self-invention, about old money and new colliding like cracked eggs, about the pleasures of partying and the dangers of watching. It’s about hope and pink suits and the eyes of God staring stunned at the foolishness of human beings. It’s about scandal seen in both the heat of midnight and the cool of dawn.