Saturday, February 8, 2014

Fitzgerald and Eliot and Modernism

        I’ve never really associated F. Scott Fitzgerald, one my favorite (and everyone else’s) American writers, with Modernism. Not that it isn’t obvious that he is a member of the Modernist movement, but I guess I just kind of placed him in a category of his own. However, just one Google search on Modernism and his name is everywhere. At first glance, when you look at a poem like the The Wasteland and then Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, it’s hard to imagine them in the same literary movement, or at least it is for me. However, I do think there are certainly more obvious similarities between The Wasteland and This Side of Paradise. Now, however, I feel like the similarities between The Wasteland and The Great Gatsby are rather obvious. 

        First, their themes are almost identical. For example, both works deal with feminism and the changing gender roles in the 19th and 20th centuries. In The Wasteland there is rather independent women—or at least women who aren’t stuck in a home. In The Great Gatsby there is Jordan Baker, the professional golfer who could not be more unlike Daisy if she tried. Plus, she also happens to be my favorite.

         Another major theme in both works is the question of God/religion in the world, as well as the death of morals in Western society. For example, in The Great Gatsby, there are the eyes of Doctor T.J. Eckleburg on the billboard, which George Wilson believes to be the judging eyes of God looking down on their corrupt society. I don’t really think I need to use an example from The Wasteland because just about every aspect of it can be tied to the corruption of the Western world.

         I think it's extremely interesting how to works that come from the same literary movement, deal with such similar themes, and make such similar statements can be taken so differently. Being brutally honest, I would read The Great Gatsby five times over before reading The Wasteland even once. And after reading some of the blog posts, I think at least of few of you would agree. However, that isn't to say I rescind my comment on Megan's post-- I really do think The Wasteland produces great conversation, not to mention deals with rather compelling themes (even though I have a hard time picking up on them). 


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