READ GATSBY-DISCUSS GATSBY is the blog to go to if you are part of The Big Read. In addition to Vigo County, Indiana, the following communities have been selected to participate in The Big Read and have chosen The Great Gatsby as the book they will be reading: Libertyville, IL, Sioux City, IA, Craven, Pamlico and Carteret counties of NC, Newark, OH and Charlottesville, VA. All are invited to post comments and questions on The Great Gatsby and The Big Read on this blog. At READ GATSBY-DISCUSS GATSBY we agree with F. Scott Fitzgerald, “Either you think, or else others have to think for you and take power from you, pervert and discipline your natural tastes, civilize and sterilize you.”

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Did Fitzgerald’s famous kiss sell perfume or something else?

Jay Gatsby spared no expense on his parties, his rainbow of silk shirts came from England and his cream finished and silver-plated automobile makes a garage full of James Bond vehicles sound like they’re something straight off of a used car lot. And Daisy’s voice? Well, it sounds like money.

Conspicuous consumption, everything from lap dogs to gilt-edged bonds, all priced for a moment’s pleasure or the leverage of power, runs through The Great Gatsby. Maybe this Obsession commercial is about more than The Kiss and those tuning forks, stars, and blooming flowers. Or, the smell of the stuff.

Nick Carraway observes part of what all of this getting and spending might mean:

“They were careless people, Tom and Daisy — they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made…”

And then there was this assessment: "I make my money by supplying a public demand. If I break the law, my customers who number hundreds of the best people in Chicago, are as guilty as I am. The only difference is that I sell and they buy. Everybody calls me a racketeer. I call myself a businessman." – Al Capone, 1929

Any thoughts on the materialism and meretriciousness found in The Great Gatsby versus the values we live by today?

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