Why I Love: 'The Great Gatsby'

Ekow Eshun, artistic director, ICA
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The Independent Culture

I first read it when I was 16 and I've never stopped reading it since - a few times every year. What I respond to is the figure of the modern self-made man. When was younger I thought what he achieved was amazing. Now I see that the cost of doing these things comes quite high. But I still think his story is one of real hope. I love the idea that you can use your imagination to craft your own future.

One of the keys to success is making hard work look easy. That's what Gatsby as a character does, and what the novel itself does: it took Fitzgerald years of whittling tens of thousands of words from the original draft to get this elegance and apparent ease. His other works can get on my nerves. 'Tender is the Night' comes off a bit fey after all this time. But Gatsby is about the condition of modern man. "So we beat on, boats against the current...". Even as the horizon recedes you still reach for it. A beautiful and important sentiment.

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