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Nostalgia within the texts of F. Scott Fitzgerald
Edinburgh University.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0115-4995
2009 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation only (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby (1925) is, and has, generally been considered a nostalgic novel, in the way it both explores individual private nostalgia through Gatsby’s longing for the past and a wider more collective desire for the past virginal dreams of a New World. Fitzgerald’s fascination of nostalgia is shown in his notebooks and earlier fiction, but is in reality an interest shared by many of the modernists as a reaction to the unprecedented changes in time concepts through industrialization, idea of progress, migration and the explorations of temporality by Kant, and later Bergson. Not to mention Freud’s influence on modernism’s ideas of consciousness and focalization.

   These changes did not only alter the content and themes of modernism, but also narrative strategies themselves. My paper is set out to explore how Fitzgerald in The Great Gatsby uses primarily the narrative strategy of textual memory to reinforce the thematic content of his novel. In dividing his novel in two distinct parts, that are separated through a variety of stylistic devices, and deploying a changeable prose that either creates a strong presence full of impressions, or a more reflective, distant style, he controls the reader’s nostalgic reading experience. Simply, as we progress through the narrative of Gatsby, we are first enhanced by the style which creates an enlarged textual memory, that we will later miss and therefore desire and long for. The summer prose of the first part seduces us, by connecting the story to our own subjective memories of past nostalgic dreams. Then: enter autumn. In the second part we are constantly reminded, through repetitions of themes and motifs, although somewhat changed, of the first part. But all the gaiety and spontaneity of early summer has been replaced by human failure, tragedy and dissolution; in short a party and its hangover.

   When we speak of The Great Gatsby as a novel about nostalgia, we refer to its thematic content. But we might also call it, borrowing the analogy from Paul Ricœur, anostalgic novel in the way its form and style provokes a nostalgic reading experience.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2009.
National Category
Humanities
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-36751OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-36751DiVA, id: diva2:743942
Conference
Looking Back on the End of Time: Modernism and Beyond, University of East Anglia, September 4th 2009.
Available from: 2014-09-05 Created: 2014-09-05 Last updated: 2014-12-02Bibliographically approved

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Salmose, Niklas

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard1
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
  • vancouver
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More styles
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  • de-DE
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