The Great Gatsby – The Critics


  1. “…a man from nowhere, without roots or background, absolutely self-made in the image of an obscure and undefined ideal” – Isabel Paterson 1925


  1. “You could not exactly call him an imposter; he was himself an artist of sorts trying to remould himself.” – Isabel Paterson 1925


  1. “…an incurable romanticist… his mistake was to accept life at its face value.” – Isabel Paterson 1925


  1. The novel… “no more than a glorified anecdote” – H L Mencken 1925


  1. “…though [Fitzgerald] does not go below the surface, he depicts this rattle and hullabaloo with great gusto and… sharp accuracy” – Isabel Paterson 1925


  1. “The Great Gatsby is a disillusioned novel, and a mature novel.” – William Rose Benet 1924


  1. “Fitzgerald surveys the Babylonian captivity of his era unblended by the bright lights. He gives you the bright lights in full measure, the affluence, the waste… the ugly passion, the spiritual meagreness, the empty shell of luxury, the old irony of ‘fair-weather friends’.” – William Rose Benet 1924


  1. “..a soiled or rather cheap personality transfigured and rendered pathetically appealing through the possession of a passionate idealism” – Carl Von Vechten 1925


  1. “His doglike fidelity not only to his ideal but to his fictions, his incredibly cheap and curiously imitative imagination, awaken for him not only our interest and suffrage, but also a certain liking, as they awaken it in the narrator.” – Carl Von Vechten 1925


  1. “The dilemma that Nick, Daisy and Gatsby face is, of course, a human one as well as an American one: whether to embrace the dreams of youth and keep alive the hopes bred in innocence or to face the reality that such dreams are inevitably elusive and illusory because they are part of the past” Susan Resneck


  1. “[Daisy] deliberately chooses to embrace certain illusions and play certain roles as a way of creating for herself a sense of meaning and purpose and as a way of coping with “the pressure of the world outside”” Susan Resneck


  1. “…in the commodity age need as a purely material and physical impulse has given way to a structure of artificial stimuli, artificial longings, such that it is no longer possible to separate the true from the false, the primary from the luxury-satisfaction, in them” Fredrick Jameson


  1. “[Daisy] seems able to transform the material world into some ephemeral dreamland in which objects suddenly glow with symbolic meaning.” Leland S Person



  1. “Nick and Gatsby progressively devitalize daisy’s symbolic meaning until she exists as a vulgar emblem of the money values which dominate their world.” Leland S Person


  1. “Gatsby never understood that he was trapped by time and human history”. Yet even in the only moment he ever had his future.” R W Stallman


  1. ‘…the key issue is undoubtedly [Nick’s’] honesty, because that provides the basis of the reader’s reaction to the novel’- Gary Scrimgeour 1966


  1. ‘Fitzgerald intended ‘The Great Gatsby to warn us against the attempt to deny reality’- Gary Scrimgeour 1966


  1. ‘(Gatsby) never realised the truth about himself, and despite the lesson of his fate, fails to come to self-knowledge’ – Gary Scrimgeour 1966



  1. “Gatsby is a ‘mythic’ character… because he embodies the core conflict in the American Dream between illusion and reality.” – Bewley