Maureen Corrigan •
So We Read On •
So We Read On is Maureen Corrigan’s deeply personal ode to what many consider the finest American novel of the 20th century, The Great Gatsby.
Count me among the many. F. Scott Fitzgerald was my first big literary crush, and we never really parted company. So I’m gratified to see the resurgence of interest in his work, especially a book as thoughtful, heartfelt, and meticulously researched as this one.
You come away from it with an aching sympathy for Fitzgerald, struggling so hard to produce the best writing he was capable of—or even “much better than I’m capable of.” What’s wonderful about this is that it gave us The Great Gatsby. What’s terrible about it is that the book vanished almost without a ripple during Fitzgerald’s lifetime. The brilliant editor Max Perkins had to threaten to quit Scribner’s just to get the damn thing published in the first place; every one of his colleagues roundly rejected the masterpiece.
Drawing on biographies, critical studies, university archives, and her own two decades of teaching Gatsby at Georgetown, Corrigan explores every aspect of the novel, from its epigraph (written by Fitzgerald and attributed to a fictional character) to the famous final line (now engraved on Scott and Zelda’s tombstone). She delves into Gatsby’s recurrent water imagery and Fitzgerald’s obsession with class. She squarely nails the book’s central appeal—it’s all about the voice, that “powerhouse poetic style”—and quotes Fitzgerald’s own summary of its theme: “The loss of those illusions that give such color to the world so that you don’t care whether things are true or false as long as they partake of the magical glory.”
But mostly, she reminds us again and again why some loves last a lifetime.