The Great Gatsby is one of the most intangible books I’ve ever read. The words slip through your mind like sand running through your fingers. It’s one of those books that is hard to follow because the story is ungraspable, it seems to escape understanding, the closer we get to it the more it eludes us. Well, I’ve attempted to read the book many times but haven’t finished it. No doubt I will try again before the new film.
The Great Gatsby was published in 1925, his seconds novel after This Side of Paradise. Fitzgerald had already published dozens of short stories. Winter Dreams was published in Metropolitan in 1922. In many ways it is a prototype of the Gatsby story, encompassing many of the same themes.
Dexter Green is a shy, middle class boy who longs to be part of the old money elite. He caddies for the rich at a golf club. He meets and falls in love with Judy Jones, daughter of the owner Mortimer Jones, but can’t abide her knowing he is a servant to her.
Eighteen months later Dexter meets Judy whilst swimming on the beach, she is now extremely beautiful, they date, and he learns that he is one of 10 men she is stringing along. Soon they are engaged, but she breaks it off after one month. Dexter goes to fight in World War 1. After five years, Dexter is a very successful businessman, working in New York. On a particular day, a man named Devlin visits him, and mentions Judy Simms who is married to one of his friends, her beauty has faded and she is now a housewife. The news affects Dexter greatly as he still feels love for Judy and has hope for her. Dexter realises he can never go back home now:
For the first time in his life the tears were streaming down his face. But they were for himself, now.
‘Long ago,’ he said ‘there was something in me, that thing is gone. I cannot cry. I cannot care. That thing will come back more.’
The story of Winter Dreams has never been filmed. However, Ali McGraw had wanted to adapt it in the seventies and suggested it to head of Paramount studios Robert Evans, she gave him a leather-bound notebook in which the story was copied meticulously in her own handwriting.
To get you going for the latest Gatsby offering here are some screenshots of Lurhman’s film: