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o The Great Gatsby: Historical
o The Great Gatsby
Pound was an American
expatriate living in Europe. He
was hugely influential in the
circle of other expatriate writers
and artists not only for his own
work as a poet but also for the
advice that he offered to other
writers. “A Retrospect” is
Pound’s manifesto on Imagism,
a school of poetry that argued
for the central—if not defining—
place of the image in modern
An “Image” is that
which presents an
emotional complex in
an instant of time.
It is better to present
one Image in a lifetime
than to produce
Use no superfluous
word, no adjective
which does not reveal
1. Is Ezra Pound offering a
radical new vision of poetry,
or are his comments simply
good advice for writers of any
1. How can we maintain the
balance between being wordy
1. Is Ezra Pound right about
seeing the tradition not as
dogma, but as “the result of
long contemplation” that may
be worth consideration?
Willa Cather Willa Cather was born in the
Midwest but spent most of her
career as a novelist in
cosmopolitan cities such as
London and New York. In “The
Novel Démeublé,” Cather
implicitly asks what
can teach twentieth-century
writers. In so doing, she
rejects realist novels as mere
“amusement” and looks to
“American romances” such as
Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter
1. Why does Cather believe physical descriptions
of people and things don’t have value?
2. If an author succeeds in producing a work of
novelty, is the meaning of the novel more
important or how it subjectively affects the
Williams So far, all of the manifestos
that we have read are
serious invectives. Yet,
here we encounter the
playfulness in Williams’s
Spring and All. Given the
playful, ironic, and
humorous tone of
Williams’s manifesto, it
may be difficult to tell how
deadly serious he is about
his vision for modern
It is spring! but miracle
of miracles a
miraculous miracle has
gradually taken place
during these seemingly
wasted eons. Through
the orderly sequences
of unmentionable time
—from Spring and All
1. What does William Carlos
Williams mean when he says,
“Everything is and is new”?
1. What implications is Williams
trying to convey about
2. What does Williams repetition
of “imagination” in the
excerpt from “Spring and All”
have to do with the
Many modernist writers supported
the idea that artists and writers
should be fiercely committed to
their personal vision regardless of
what the market, critics, or other
writers said. In “The Negro Artist
and the Racial Mountain,”
Langston Hughes argues that an
artist’s racial identity complicates
this commitment to personal
vision in ways that white writers
had not fully appreciated.
I am ashamed for the
black poet who says,
“I want to be a poet,
not a Negro poet,” as
though his own racial
world were not as
interesting as any
other world . . . An
artist must be free to
choose what he does,
certainly, but he must
also never be afraid to
do what he might
Negro Artist and
There’s a tension in the statement between
individual choice (“An artist must be free to
choose what he does”) and a manifesto-like
prescription of what African-American poets
must do (“I am ashamed for the black poet
who says . . .”).
1. Why doesn’t Hughes encourage his
fellow blacks to be themselves, but while
also still being a part of America?
2. What kinds of attitudes does Langston
Hughes want young African-American
artist to adopt towards art?
1. Must an artist only create art based on
their race/culture to be considered
1. How does the “self-embracing” of a “Negro” artist differ from that
of a white artist? What are the consequences, both positive and
negative, of African Americans fully embracing their racial
2. Who does Langston Hughes think is responsible for creating the
“racial mountain”? Is the “racial mountain” still present in todays
3. Would Langston Hughes’ rhetoric apply to the African American
artist today? Is it still necessary to racially identify African
4. Is Hughes’ point regarding embracing one’s culture regardless of
social prejudice a helpful and honest tip in order to achieve
literary success, or is it a romanticized ideology that does not
fully take into account the challenges of the time period?
5. How can African-Americans recover from internalized racism
when mainstream culture is focused on white standards?
Standard of living increased for most
Americans abandoned small towns in exchange for urban
Economy prospered as Americans tried to forget troubles of
Conspicuous Consumption and frivolous spending
This term was originally coined to refer to the rise & power of
extremely rich businessmen, who displayed their wealth in
ostentatious houses & extravagant behavior.
18th Amendment to Constitution prohibited manufacture
and sale of alcoholic beverages
– Thousands turned to bootlegging
– Mob activity increased to supply the demand for what was once
WWI made Americans
Literature and art
denied foundations of
the past and went for
The philosophy of the
Jazz Age was
The Jazz Age / Roaring
Twenties/ The Flapper Era
The age takes its name from jazz, which
saw a tremendous surge in popularity.
This was a period of pleasure seeking &
Most of Fitzgerald’s stories provide a
picture of youthful hedonism and the
antics of the liberated young women
known as “flappers,” affronting
conventional values with short skirts,
short hair and make-up.
This period has been referred to as “The Lost
Hemingway, in his novel The Sun Also Rises depicts a
group of expatriate Americans, wandering aimlessly
through Europe, sensing that they are powerless and
that life is pointless in the aftermath of the Great War.
The Great Gatsby likewise reflects this perception of life
without purpose, of restlessness, dissatisfaction and
and Post #2
Daisy leans forward and talks in a low
Tom is restless and hulking.
Jordan balances something on her chin
almost in an athletic stance.
What is Fitzgerald’s purpose in thus
The other girl, Daisy, made an attempt to rise — she leaned
slightly forward with a conscientious expression — then she
laughed, an absurd, charming little laugh, and I laughed too
and came forward into the room.
“I’m p-paralyzed with happiness.” She laughed again, as if she
said something very witty, and held my hand for a moment,
looking up into my face, promising that there was no one in
the world she so much wanted to see. That was a way she
had. She hinted in a murmur that the surname of the
balancing girl was Baker. (I’ve heard it said that Daisy’s
murmur was only to make people lean toward her; an
irrelevant criticism that made it no less charming.)
1. Why does the Fitzgerald give Daisy a
2. Does Daisy change at the end of the
story? If she changed, would be the
change forward or backward? And who
helps or makes that change?
The younger of the two was a stranger to me. She was
extended full length at her end of the divan, completely
motionless, and with her chin raised a little, as if she were
balancing something on it which was quite likely to fall. If she
saw me out of the corner of her eyes she gave no hint of it —
indeed, I was almost surprised into murmuring an apology for
having disturbed her by coming in.
At any rate, Miss Baker’s lips fluttered, she nodded at me
almost imperceptibly, and then quickly tipped her head back
again — the object she was balancing had obviously tottered a
little and given her something of a fright. Again a sort of
apology arose to my lips. Almost any exhibition of complete
self-sufficiency draws a stunned tribute from me.
Q: How does Jordan differ from Daisy as a
Q: Why does Fitzgerald give Jordan
masculine attributes such as being a
professional golf player and having small
He had changed since his New Haven years. Now he was a
sturdy straw-haired man of thirty with a rather hard mouth
and a supercilious manner. Two shining arrogant eyes had
established dominance over his face and gave him the
appearance of always leaning aggressively forward. Not
even the effeminate swank of his riding clothes could hide
the enormous power of that body — he seemed to fill those
glistening boots until he strained the top lacing, and you
could see a great pack of muscle shifting when his shoulder
moved under his thin coat. It was a body capable of
enormous leverage — a cruel body.
1. Why does Fitzgerald narrate the story from
Nick Carraway’s perspective? What is Nick’s
significance and what truth does he expose
about society or human nature?
2. Q: At the beginning of The Great Gatsby, Daisy
tells Nick that he reminds her of a rose (16) but
Nick immediately rejects the idea as untrue.
Does Daisy’s metaphor of Nick being a rose
play into his character development?
Mia Farrow and Robert Redford
Carey Mulligan and Leonardo
• How does the reunion of Daisy and Gatsby
signal both the beginning and the end of
Gatsby’s dream and of his success?
• Trace the recurring image of eyes, and ascertain
the purposes of those images. Consider blindness
on any level as well as sight.
“above the gray land and the spasms of bleak
dust which drift endlessly over it, you
perceive, after a moment, the eyes of Dr. T.J.
Eckleburg. The eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg are
blue and gigantic – their retinas are one yard
high. They look out of no face but, instead,
from a pair of enormous yellow spectacles
which pass over a nonexistent nose […] But
his eyes, dimmed a little by many paintless
days under sun and rain, brood on over the
solemn dumping ground.” (Chapter 2)
QHQ: The Great Gatsby
1. Q: Is Jay Gatsby the main character of this story?
2. Q: How does Fitzgerald use the main characters in
The Great Gatsby to portray a message about
society during this time period, or human nature
as a whole?
3. Q: How come the three characters that
demonstrate true love are the three characters
Read: Critical Theory
Today: Chapter 1 Introduction
Read: Critical Theory
Today: Chapter 5 New
Post #3: QHQ: New
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