‘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.

Monday Movie News!

   

One of my all-time favourite authors is F. Scott Fitzgerald, so you can imagine my surprise and delight when I found out that two of his novels will be hitting the big screen within the next few years.  Both movies will be starring Keira Knightly, one of my favourite actresses.

Movie #1: The Beautiful and the Damned

I have not read this novel yet. The movie is set to release January 1, 2011, so maybe I’ll ask for this book for Christmas.

This novel is usually described as a ‘biography’ of Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda, and their fast life in the 20’s. In this second novel by Fitzgerald,  a glamorous and doomed marriage is portrayed in the decadent high society of New York City. The novel introduces us to the pleasure-seeking Anthony and his beautiful, vain, and shallow golden girl just after their marriage, when-believing a large inheritance to be imminent-they begin living well beyond their means.

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Movie #2: Tender is the Night

It is rumored that Keira Knightly will also be appearing in another Fitzgerald remake as Nicole Diver. Her leading man is speculated to be Matt Damon (playing Dick Diver). I have read this book already, and started re-reading it again since the last time I read it I was 12,but I can say it is one of my all time favorites. Set on the French Riviera in the late 1920s, Tender Is the Night is the tragic romance of the young actress Rosemary Hoyt and the stylish American couple Dick and Nicole Diver. A brilliant young psychiatrist at the time of his marriage, Dick is both husband and doctor to Nicole, whose wealth goads him into a lifestyle not his own, and whose growing strength highlights Dick’s harrowing demise. The movie is set to release some time in 2012.

With having just passed our own mini version of the 1930’s crash, could popularity be turning to the 1920’s as a parallel reference? The rich and famous in the 1920’s lived too extravagantly, spending money that wasn’t their own (hello credit), which was a cause of the crash in the stock market.  I love the jazz age and the glamour of the 1920’s, and I am so happy that entertainment it focusing around this beautiful era.

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?

Book of the Month Clutch

Don’t be fooled, these are not your average classic books.

Kate Spade has introduced her Book of the Month Clutch bag series. There are only three ‘books’ in the series and each boasts as being a mini work of art. They are crafted with hand drawn elements and colourful collage, including spine and back cover with back cover copy.

If you leave this purse unattended at your next event, it might just be mistaken for the book it masquerades.

I personally don’t like the cover art they chose to depict these classics, but what do you think?  Also, at 325$ a purse, I unfortunately won’t be sporting one of my favorite classics, The Great Gatsby, anytime soon.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald

(click on this picture to get full size and use as your desktop background!)

First Impressions: Fitzgerald’s most famous novel, The Great Gatsby, was first published in 1925 (85 years ago!). The first time I tried to read this book (when I was 12) I could not get through it. Later I learn’t in a Modernism class that this was because its structure attempts to diverge from the classic structure of a novel. However, once I learnt the literary ways of the 1920’s, the book became a depiction of everything I thought the roaring twenties to be.  Not only did it define an iconic time in history, it was well written and is constantly assigned in school classrooms around the world. This book is short, and its structure is as tight as a short story: a definite recommend to read!

Short Plot Summary: This novel captures the disillusion of post-war America and the moral failure of a society obsessed with wealth and status. It chronicles Gatsby’s tragic pursuit of the American Dream, chronicalling the tale of reality vs. illusion.

Something to think about:
–         F in F. Scott Fitzgerald stands for Francis (born September 24, 1896). Francis was a name taken from his relative, Francis Scott Key, who wrote, “Star Spangled Banner.”
–         Fitzgerald’s life is closely paralleled to Gatsby’s.  He achieves the American dream, becomes engrossed in parties and decadence, marries a beautiful woman who ruins him, and dies an early death (heart attack at the age of 44).

Adaptations:
Movies
–  The Great Gatsby (1926), directed by Herbert Brenon (have not seen this one yet, anyone have advice of where to watch, let me know!)
The Great Gatsby (1949), directed by Elliott Nugent (have not seen this one
either, if anyone has advice of where to watch, let me know!)
The Great Gatsby (1974), directed by Jack Clayton (stays true to plot and
Narrative; definite recommended watch if you loved the book).


The Great Gatsby (2000), directed by Robert Markowitz (made for TV).