I read this in preparation for watching the Baz Luhrmann movie adaptation. I had read it once a long time ago, not for class, but I think when I was still in high school. That time I wasn't enamored of it, but upon this rereading, it has improved greatly in my mind.
What does one say about a classic? This is well-deserving of its status as rite-of-passage literature. It's a wonderful synopsis of the 20s, but even more, it's a wonderful synopsis of wealth and what it means to have it. Fitzgerald, through his narrator, leaves the perfect amount of information for the reader to discover. The plot is nothing special, certainly, belonging more in a Shakespeare play than in anything written in the last 100 years. But, the atmosphere is powerful, and the philosophy of the characters is even more accessible and powerful for their contrast. Gatsby's yearning for the past, contrasted with Daisy's hedonism and Carraway's detachment. Even the minor characters can be interpreted as manifestations of their philosophies, and the 20s and the American dream is made up of all of these colliding philosophies and characters.
It helps that the prose is often so good that it hurts. If you've somehow never read this book, read it now.