Great Gatsby by Fitzgerald F Scott and Vile Bodies by Waugh Evelyn: Comparison and Contrast – Book Report/Review Example

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The paper " Great Gatsby by Fitzgerald F Scott and Vile Bodies by Waugh Evelyn: Comparison and Contrast" is a wonderful example of a book report on literature. In Europe and America, creative writing went through dramatic transformation between the two great wars affecting the Edwardian and Victorian concepts of an ever-lasting and comfortably sheltered notion of life. In novels, particularly, a new type of protagonists emerged. The crè me de la crè me of the society was composed of swanky, suave and competent achievers. Yet, looked at more closely, they were hollow people, as TS Eliot said in The Waste Land, they were "hollow men, the stuffed men, headpiece filled with straw".

The two novels, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (first published in 1925) and Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh (first published in1930) are such novels that glaringly expose a period when opulence covered depravity, dream covered fear, obsession covered reality, false promises covered premonitions. The novels convey similar messages albeit in stylistically dissimilar ways. Both utilize urban landscapes, depict the void and moral profligacy of either the so-called Jazz Age (a term coined by Fitzgerald to define a generation that overindulgences itself) or the slightly later phase, experimenting with form and language and targeting the younger people as the representative voice. The intention of F.

Scott Fitzgerald, the author of The Great Gatsby (first published 1925) was to write something unique about a post-WWI generation from the most simple to the deepest complicated angle. Scott Fitzgerald, himself was a part of this world, profiting and paying price for his flamboyant lifestyle, his alcoholism and his estranged relationship with his wife. The young American of the early-to-mid-1920s was cash-rich.

The American dream was to fulfill ambition through hard work. (The American dream, ego4u. com). In the post World War I “ Big Boom", the American middle-class benefited from the country’ s highest average earnings in the world and many people acquired the crucial status icon -- the car. The usual metropolitan American house glimmered with electric lights and showed off the radio that linked the house with the world beyond, and possibly also a telephone and other luxury items (Modernism and Experimentation, state. gov).

Women, often referred to as flappers, dressed in daringly new couture, shocking the older generation with their scanty and short beachwear and manlike haircut. The opulent and dazzling lifestyle of the flappers attending late-night parties, driving cars, smoking no doubt upset the older generation. Yet, the youth paid little care to their reaction. The Great Gatsby immaculately depicted this time and thereby earned a high rank in modern American literature. The protagonist, Jay Gatsby, is a symbol of the Jazz Age — an achiever-millionaire fixated in the American dream of money, desire, and insatiability.

In spite of their apparent cheerfulness, modernity, and incomparable worldly success, young Americans of the 1920s were "the lost generation" -- as sarcastically depicted by Gertrude Stein, the famous literary critic. With the killing of Jay Gatsby, the penalty of the "American dream" and of a young man deceived by the ambitions reared by a falsely attractive society is established. Vile Bodies (first published in1930) by Evelyn Waugh wanted to show in a series of fast images the same moral depravity of the twenties that lingered to the thirties. Waugh’ s philosophy of writing, however outwardly frivolous and P. G Wodehouse-like it may be, disdained the upper-class lifestyle in post World War I England.

The characters are as hollow and chatty as straight from T. S Eliot’ s speakers. In Vile Bodies, the author berated that generation as “ futurist” robots that have no human empathy, indifferent to social, moral and political crises takes for granted a kind of life full of opulence and luxury.


Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby, Simon and Schuster Inc., New York: 1991.

Waugh, Evelyn, Vile Bodies. London: Chapman, 1930.

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