The Best Passages From The Great Gatsby
If Fitzgerald’s prose is like butter, then The Great Gatsby is like bathing in a giant vat of delicious, theater popcorn.
I’ve read this novel multiple times, and I’m always struck by how I never grow tired of reading it. Every single passage lives and breathes and just jumps of the page. Fitzgerald wrote with such a purpose.
With my review coming on Monday, I thought I’d share some of my favorite passages and quotes from The Great Gatsby today.
About Gatsby’s demeanor:
“He smiled understandingly-much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced–or seemed to face–the whole eternal world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey.”
About Gatsby’s passion for and unrealistic expectations of Daisy:
“There must have been moments even that afternoon when Daisy tumbled short of his dreams — not through her own fault, but because of the colossal vitality of his illusion. It had gone beyond her, beyond everything. He had thrown himself into it with a creative passion, adding to it all the time, decking it out with every bright feather that drifted his way. No amount of fire or freshness can challenge what a man will store up in his ghostly heart.”
Nick’s outstanding opening to the novel:
“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.”
Nick’s description of Daisy:
“Her face was sad and lovely with bright things in it, bright eyes and a bright passionate mouth, but there was an excitement in her voice that men who had cared for her found difficult to forget: a singing compulsion, a whispered “Listen,” a promise that she had done gay, exciting things just a while since and that there were gay, exciting things hovering in the next hour.”
The novel’s fabulous ending:
“Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter–tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther…. And one fine morning– So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
Some other outstanding lines:
“There are only the pursued, the pursuing, the busy and the tired.”
“Let us learn to show our friendship for a man when he is alive and not after he is dead.”
“If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him”
“It takes two to make an accident.”
“Life is much more successfully looked at from a single window.”
This is one of the most often quoted novels in the world, so I’m sure none of these quotes are new to you, but these are just a few one the passages I underlined in my book.
Feel free to chime in with your own favorites or thoughts in the comments.