I wrote a blog about The Great Gatsby when this new adaptation first hit the theaters, basically trashing Coppola’s version starring Robert Redford, and I also revealed I preferred Edmund Wilson’s Princess With the Golden Hair as an obsessive love story. Not too many people know Wilson’s novella because it was banned for over twenty years.
Well, the new version of Gatsby just hit HBO and actually blew my mind.
It’s a very literary adaptation that brings the spirit of the novel to life, and it’s probably the only successful adaptation of Fitzgerald ever made. It reminded me Fitzgerald is a great writer, whose prose could be absolutely golden.
Gatsby is not the melodramatic love story I seemed to recall at all, but a tragedy following all the classic rules of that ancient Greek formula.
In a sense, it’s also one of the first great gangster myths because Gatsby’s connection to organized crime is what made him rich, not to mention Arnold Rothstein plays an important role in the novel. But no matter how rich Gatsby got, he could never hang with the Prince of Wales, like the super rich in East Egg do. In some ways, the book was a warning about the division in American society and the blatant contempt old money displays for the inferior classes, as well as the inferiority complexes of the wannabe’s. And hasn’t this divide just grown wider since the 1920s?
Of course Gatsby’s fatal flaw is trying to roll back the tides of time to return to a more innocent period. Nobody turns back time, although many try, and some even succeed temporarily.