‘Great Gatsby’ Mansion on Long Island Sells

For many, The Great Gatsby, is an all-time favorite read. Which is why I was so jealous to hear that a Gatsby’s mansion (F. Scott Fitzgerald‘s mansion inspiration, at least), has sold! From these photo’s, you can definitely see a resemblance in Fitzgerald’s descriptions from the novel:

“…the one on the right was a colossal affair by any standard–it was a factual imitation of some Hotel de Ville in Normandy, with a tower on one side, spanking new under a thin beard of raw ivy, and a marble swimming pool, and more than forty acres of lawn and garden. It was Gatsby’s mansion. Or rather, as I didn’t know Mr. Gatsby, it was a mansion inhabited by a gentleman of that name. ” -Page 9

   

Note: This is not the only mansion said to be ‘the’ inspiration for Gatsby’s mansion.

  • Kahn Estate or Oheka Castle on the Gold Coast of Long Island is also said to be a partial inspiration (photo here)
  • Colonial mansion on the North Shore of Long Island was also said to be an inspiration, however, has since been demolished (click here to read article and check out some photos)
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Free Air by Sinclair Lewis

If you have never heard of Sinclair Lewis before, you can think of him as F. Scott Fitzgerald‘s counterpart. He also published during the ‘roaring twenties,’ but wrote of many different classes of people. It seems he especially liked yoking together characters from high society and low society, to see how they get along. This yoking together is exactly what he does in Free Air (April 1922), the seventh of twenty-six novels he has written.

Similar to what we envision of the 1920’s, Lewis’ prose comes across as high and fast. The high part revealing the lofty and romantic language he uses throughout the novel (taken from the upper class); the fast part is revealed in long run-on sentences that the characters speak and seems to work particularly well in this time period.

Before I continue with my review of Free Air, I want to note that in 1930 Lewis won the Nobel Prize for literature and as a prize recipient, was required to write a short autobiography on his career so far. I strongly recommend anyone considering being an author (or currently in the struggles of becoming one) take a peak (you will also notice his ‘high and fast’ language here). My favorite quote from this autobiography comes at the very end where he reveals his ever-present satire: “I am settled down to what I hope to be the beginning of a novelist’s career. I hope the awkward apprenticeship with all its errors is nearly done.” Only after writing 14 novels and winning the Nobel Prize for Literature, does he finally allow himself to truely ‘begin’ his career as a novelist.

Free Air can be summed up as a book about the great American road trip. Claire Boltwood and takes her father Mr. Boltwood on a cross country car trip from New York city all the way to Seattle, WA. Although Claire describes their financial situation to be mediocre, I found out that they really are a part of the elite New York society that was akin to British royalty in the 1920’s. The road trip is full of humor and character building crisis’ for Claire (the modern reader will find the description of the roads very insightful due to their practical non-existence; all back country road, mud and the occasional small town). And it is in one of the first small city stops that they make do they run into Milt Daggett, the owner of the local car shop. At first sight, Daggett falls for Claire and what will only sound as creepy in this summary, decides then and there to follow her and her father all the way to Seattle. Stalker? Knight in shining armor? That is what I will leave for you to find out if you read Free Air.

This book was popular enough on its publication to have been made into a silent film in 1922, starring Tom Douglas as Milt Daggett and Marjorie Seaman as Claire Boltwood.

Out of Print: T-Shirt Designs Inspired by the Classics

This online store, , not only prints graphic T’s with some of the best covers from classic literature, but they have a unique mandate of supporting a great cause. For each piece of clothing bought, one book gets donated to a community in need through their partner Books for Africa.

So take a look at their website, Out of Print, and feel good about supporting classic literature.

Here are some of my favorite T’s:

To read my review of The Great Gatsby, click here.

To read my review of Lolita, click here.

Big Brother VS. Little Brother: BIG BROTHER

BIG BROTHER: Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell was written in 1949 and is a dystopian science fiction novel about the future of America. It is everything the liberals fight against: mind control, perpetual war, government surveillance and propaganda.

Overall, I found this novel very hard to read and complete.  It portrays a very unreasonable society where ignorance is praised and common sense is punished. As you can read on the poster to the left, this is just one example of the many propaganda we are shown and it is very hard to swallow.  The main character, Winston Smith, is our guide through the new regime and Orwell does an amazing job of making the reader feel as uncomfortable as Winston does about how his world is being run.  He has absolutely no freedom: Big Brother is always watching!

Winston is part of a small group of non-believers who don’t agree with the government (it’s less of a movement, and more of a natural instinct), and these non-believers come in many different strands.  Julia, for example, is the character Winston “falls in love with” (which in this society, love is not allowed, nor does it exist). Coincidently, Julia feels the same for Winston and they steel away to the country, far from any eyes of Big Brother to break the law and participate in illegal love making. Winston is elated at finding another non-believer, but then he realizes that Julia does believe in Big Brother whole-heartedly, except when it comes to restricting love.

This book has been made in to many different movies, but here is the 1984 version of Nineteen Eighty-Four:

Overall, I tend to read for pleasure and this novel was anything but a pleasurable read. If you decide to take the leap and try reading this widely popular classic, good luck and don’t give up!

A book cover for your e-reader…classic!

I’m sorry that I completely abandoned my Halloween posts, but both jobs got the better of me!

If you are wondering, I ended up being a Faery for Halloween. My costume was inspired from Julie Kagawa’s Iron Fey series (I’m kind of addicted to these books right now).

 

 

In RT Book Reviews magazine, I came across these delightful e-reader covers that are fashioned out of, you guessed it, classic texts. Not only do these covers bring the old-school-feel we miss when having an e-reader, but I think they cleverly mask your possibly expensive investment.

Some of my favourites:

Not every cover fits every e-reader, so make sure to read the fine print before your order one of your own!

Check it out: CLICK HERE!

If you don’t see a favourite, the designer, Randy, does make custom orders!

Reading classical literature is good for you!?!

While I was surfing the web one day, I came across this article, which I tend to agree with, whole heartedly. So pick up your favourite classic, and improve your mind.

The article suggests that reading the classics will: give you a larger vocabulary, improve your speaking skills, give you fresh ideas, provide a historical perspective, they are of course educational entertainment, sophisticated entertainment, help you to acquire a distinct voice, and learn timeless ideas.

Click here to check it out!

Reading Books for Big Houses

With the great variety of shows centred around looking into the homes of others, Holmes on Homes, Trading Spaces, Divine Design and House Hunters International, my favorite, there is also, thankfully, a lot of classical literature that centre’s on the magnificent homes of others. Sometimes I do find myself picking up a book solely because the cover portrays a magnificent estate and I know when I read the story, I will be transported to elegance I can only read about.

This is why I have decided to list my top 5 books with big houses:

1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

“I believe that on the first night I went to Gatsby’s house I was one of the few guests who had actually been invited. People were not invited–they went there.”

– In my mind I see Gatby’s house as a neo-classical example of architecture in the 1920’s. Click here to get more of a feel for what it would have been furnished with.

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2. The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe

“All without was silent and dark, unless that could be called light, which was only the faint glimmer of the stars, showing imperfectly the outline of the mountains, the western towers of the castle, and the ramparts below where a solitary sentinel was pacing. What an image of repose did this scene present! …in a foreign land – in a remote castle – surrounded by vice and violence…” (Page 97).

– The Castle of Otranto from the novel is a medieval castle and is todays definition of gothic in literature. The house is made to have a spirit of it’s own and a history that surpasses all who live there.

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3.  The Female Quixote or The Adventures of Arabella by  Charlotte Lennox

“The Marquis, following the Plan of Life he has laid down, divided his Time between the Company of his Lady, his Liberty, which was large and well furnished, and his Gardens.” (Page 6).

– This novel is an example of the Romantic Period and includes much grander descriptions of homes than the one I was able to find above. The main character Arabella lives like Don Quixoto, having read too many romances, and believes the world to be but a fairy tale.

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4.  Dracula by Bram Stoker

“The castle was built on the corner of a great rock, so that on three sides it was quite impregnable, and great windows were placed here…The windows now curtainless, and the yellow  moonlight, flooding in thorugh the diamond panes, enabled one to see even colours, whilst it softended a wealth of dust which lay over all and disguised in some measure the ravages of time and moth.” (Page 55-6).

– Stoker describes Dracula’s castle in great detail, perhaps because he was inspired when visiting this real-life castle in Transylvania. This 700-year-old castle thankfully haunted Stoker’s mind and the result, one of the most popular gothic tales of all time.

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And for the finale…

5.  Against Nature (À rebours) by J.K. Huysmans

“This dining-room resembled a ship’s cabin, with its ceiling of arched beams, its bulkheads and floorboards of pitch-pine, and the little window-opening let into the wainscoting like a porthole. (page 19). …By these means he was able to enjoy quickly, almost simultaneously, all the sensations of a long sea-voyage, without ever leaving home;” (page 21).

– I recommend anyone who is in design to seriously think of reading this. The main character Jean Des Esseintes is a rich man in Paris who shuts himself away in his house, which mimics many different atmospheres, such as the description of traveling on a ship above. The novel is titled Against Nature because Esseintes mimics nature, fooling his senses to think he is exerperiencing something authentic. I would love to see someone design the home he describes, because it really is a masterpiece.

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Any recommendations?