Neither Fitzgerald nor The Great Gatsby were revered when the book was first published in 1925. Now, Modern Library ranked it the second best novel of the 20th century. Uploaded by camachoenglish11.blogspot.com.
I just re-read The Great Gatsby, having skimmed my way through it somewhere during what’s called my “formal” education. May I encourage you to go back now and re-read some of those books you only endured before? Stick to the 20th century – I wouldn’t read Moby Dick again for a thousand dollars. Shoot, I wouldn’t read Wuthering Heights for ten grand.
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But I thoroughly enjoyed The Great Gatsby. It’s easy to understand why F. Scott Fitzgerald is revered as one of our greatest authors, and why this is his prize. As a reader, I like tight plots, and I’m not much for descriptive language. But how can you not appreciate writing like this depiction of a character early in the book:
He had changed since his New Haven days. Now he was a sturdy, straw haired man of thirty with a rather hard mouth and a supercilious manner. Two shining, arrogant eyes had established dominance over his face and gave him the appearance of always leaning aggressively forward. Not even the effeminate swank of his riding clothes could hide the enormous power of that body – he seemed to fill those glistening boots until he strained the top lacing and you could see a great pack of muscle shifting when his shoulder moved under his thin coat. It was a body capable of enormous leverage – a cruel body.
Published in 1925, The Great Gatsby wasn’t a commercial success. The book’s reputation, as well as Fitzgerald’s, have improved over the decades, such that he is considered one of our great novelists. And Modern Library ranked The Great Gatsby at number two in its list of the 100 Best Novels of the 20th Century.
Gregory Peck received four Best Actor nominations during his first five years in films. But it wasn't until almost twenty years later that he won -- for To Kill a Mockingbird. Uploaded by st3.kinpoisk.ru.
Sometimes one role can capsulize an actor’s career, regardless of how many excellent films he makes. For Gregory Peck, that part was Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird (Great American Things, May 21, 2009). Here, Peck’s integrity was on full display, and he endowed Finch with a strength of character few other actors could have accomplished. The role earned Peck his Academy Award for Best Actor.
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Of course, he had a long and excellent film career which began in 1944 and concluded in 1993. Among his most memorable films:
The Keys of the Kingdom (1944 – Nomination) … Spellbound (1945)… The Yearling (1946 – Nomination) … Duel in the Sun (1946)… Gentleman’s Agreement (1947 – Nomination)… Twelve O’Clock High (1949 – Nomination)… The Gunfighter (1950)… The Snows of Kilimanjaro (1952)… Roman Holiday (1953)… Moby Dick (1956)… The Guns of Navarone (1961)… Cape Fear (1962)… To Kill a Mockingbird (1962 – Academy Award)… MacArthur (1977)… and The Boys from Brazil (1978).
Among the many honors Peck earned were the Presidential Medal of Freedom (awarded by Lyndon Johnson), the Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Award, the Motion Picture Academy’s Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, and the AFI Life Achievement Award.
Copyright 2009-2011, Robin G. Chalkley. All material on these pages, and the listing of items as Great American Things, is copyrighted. The exceptions are the photographs and videos, which remain the property of their respective owners.
Header photo used courtesy of Flickr photographer too melo.