So We Read On: How The Great Gatsby Came to Be and Why It Endures

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The "Fresh Air" book critic investigates the enduring power of The Great Gatsby -- "The Great American Novel we all think we've read, but really haven't."

Conceived nearly a century ago by a man who died believing himself a failure, it's now a revered classic and a rite of passage in the reading lives of millions. But how well do we really know The Great Gatsby? As Maureen Corrigan, Gatsby lover extraordinaire, points out, while Fitzgerald's masterpiece may be one of the most popular novels in America, many of us first read it when we were too young to fully comprehend its power.

Offering a fresh perspective on what makes Gatsby great-and utterly unusual-So We Read On takes us into archives, high school classrooms, and even out onto the Long Island Sound to explore the novel's hidden depths, a journey whose revelations include Gatsby's surprising debt to hard-boiled crime fiction, its rocky path to recognition as a "classic," and its profound commentaries on the national themes of race, class, and gender.

With rigor, wit, and infectious enthusiasm, Corrigan inspires us to re-experience the greatness of Gatsby and cuts to the heart of why we are, as a culture, "borne back ceaselessly" into its thrall. Along the way, she spins a new and fascinating story of her own.
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About the author

Maureen Corrigan is the book critic for NPR's Fresh Air, the Critic-in-Residence at Georgetown University, and winner of the Edgar Award for Criticism. She is the author of Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading (Random House, 2005).



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Additional Information

Publisher
Little, Brown
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Published on
Sep 9, 2014
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Pages
352
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ISBN
9780316230087
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Literary Criticism / American / General
Literary Criticism / Books & Reading
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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"Fitzgerald’s work has always deeply moved me," writes John T. Irwin. "And this is as true now as it was fifty years ago when I first picked up The Great Gatsby. I can still remember the occasions when I first read each of his novels; remember the time, place, and mood of those early readings, as well as the way each work seemed to speak to something going on in my life at that moment. Because the things that interested Fitzgerald were the things that interested me and because there seemed to be so many similarities in our backgrounds, his work always possessed for me a special, personal authority; it became a form of wisdom, a way of knowing the world, its types, its classes, its individuals." In his personal tribute to Fitzgerald's novels and short stories, Irwin offers an intricate vision of one of the most important writers in the American canon. The third in Irwin's trilogy of works on American writers, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Fiction resonates back through all of his previous writings, both scholarly and poetic, returning to Fitzgerald's ongoing theme of the twentieth-century American protagonist's conflict between his work and his personal life. This conflict is played out against the typically American imaginative activity of self-creation, an activity that involves a degree of theatrical ability on the protagonist's part as he must first enact the role imagined for himself, which is to say, the self he means to invent.

The work is suffused with elements of both Fitzgerald's and Irwin's biographies, and Irwin's immense erudition is on display throughout. Irwin seamlessly ties together details from Fitzgerald's life with elements from his entire body of work and considers central themes connected to wealth, class, work, love, jazz, acceptance, family, disillusionment, and life as theatrical performance.

-- Harold Bloom
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