Friday, May 10, 2013


I have been asked, over the past couple weeks, by a number of people if I have ever read "The Great Gatsby." I can answer this query with calm assurance, "Yes." I have also seen the Robert Redford film version more than once, which kind of hinders my ability to be a literature snob. That's because my recollection of F. Scott Fitzgerald's masterpiece is aided and abetted by the soft-focus 1974 movie. I would love to talk in great deal about Fitzgerald's use of symbolism and metaphor, and the significance of that green light, but it would be mostly talking through my hat. My awareness of Mister Gatsby is not dissimilar to that of Nick Caraway: an outside observer, taking in impressions of what must be a very complicated man.
I could go on and on, but it would be ultimately as empty as any discussion I might have about "Moby Dick." I have, in good faith, read every word in Herman Melville's fishing story, but I have also seen Gregory Peck lash himself to a pretty cheesy looking special effect. I am, it would seem, a victim of the dominant pop culture funnel through which I received most of my education. Like Beaver Cleaver and his "book report" on "The Three Musketeers," I could have watched the musical version of any number of classic stories and taken them as the original text.
I read the Bible for the first time when I was ten. I felt it was a good idea, since I had earned it by learning a great many verses and committing them to memory. At that age, I was consumed with images from Cecil B. DeMille as well as various film incarnations of Jesus. My imaginings of most of the stories in that book were informed by central casting. In college, I read the whole thing again, front to back. This time I was a student of literature, and even though I was a much more studied reader, I couldn't help but refer to the movies in my head as I moved from Genesis to Revelations.
Which brings me to today's essay question: Compare and contrast Jay Gatsby to Jesus Christ. Extra credit for citing any film starring Kevin Bacon.

1 comment:

Krs10 said...

Um... he reinvents himself? Born again? And again? And again? Oh, here's another: the character dies but he rises again and again and again every time they make a movie of him?