The Great Gatsby: First Lines

So, when you stop updating a blog for any length of time, it becomes more and more daunting to start posting again, because by then you've accumulated more things to write about that you feel overwhelmed. I'm going to try to jump back in and pick up where I'm at, and stick with it more regularly, rather than worrying that I've missed a bunch of stuff.

I haven't read much of the classics over the last 3 or 4 weeks, I'm afraid. Life -- work, writing, moving apartments, prepping for babies -- intervenes, as it is wont to do. I finished I, Claudius, as I mentioned, and have finally started The Great Gatsby. I'm only a couple chapters in, so I don't have much to say yet.

Except that I am captivated by the writing itself. I've not read any Fitzgerald before, and I find myself undlining passage after passage. I knew from the opening lines, that I was in the hands of a writer who treated his characters with care, but also a steely-eyed insight. That double-handed complexity will no doubt make for a rich and enduring cast of characters.

Here are those opening lines:

In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since.
"Whenever you feel like criticizing any one," he told me, "just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had."
He didn't say any more, but we've always been unusually communicative in a reserved way, and I understood that he meant a great deal more than that.  In consequence, I'm inclined to reserve all judgements, a habit that has opened up many curious natures to me and also made the victim of not a few vetern bores.

And then the kicker. With the very next line in this passage, Fitzgerald has his narrator both expand the scope of this anecdote to all of mankind, and also draw an even clearer, more specific illustration of how this has affected him. In one line! From the infinite to the particular:

The abnormal mind is quick to attach itself to this quality when it appears in a normal person, and so it came about that in college I was unjustly accused of being a politician, because I was privy to the secret griefs of wild, unknown men.

He's also, I'd guess, setting up both the novel's theme and also the psychological disposition of his narrator that's going to cause the action within the plot. 

But that's just me guessing. I'm not that far yet!

In the coming posts, I'll add more that stand out. I also plan to have a couple guest posters for this book as well, so hopefully that will all come together.

All right. Back at it. Hope you enjoy!