Fact: Chris Hadfield is the best thing on Earth or in space.
Christopher Nolan: keeping refrigerator companies in business since… whenever he started killing everybody’s wives.
Comedy fans who watched Iron Man 3 over the weekend might have been surprised to see comedian and Happy Endings star Adam Pally in a cameo role. Midway through
The opposite. She’s so fun, just a hoot. I’d be in the make-up chair every morning while she showed me stupid YouTube videos. She introduced me to Gangnam Style. Seriously, she was into K-pop long before anyone else. She threw a party for me. Tilda Swinton on the dance floor is a force of nature. She knows how to get down.
Jay Gatsby was black: an explanation
So let me explain this theory for those of you who haven’t heard it before already.
The Great Gatsby is a story of a man that makes his fortune bootlegging and throws countless magnificent parties all in hopes of attracting the attention of his old flame Daisy.
But it’s really a story about insurmountable class barriers. Daisy will never be with Gatsby, no matter how much she claims to love him. No matter how hard Gatsby tries, he will always be stuck on West Egg, only able to admire the ‘green light’ of upper class american romanticism from afar.
Themes of insurmountable class barriers permeate the entire novel right from some of the famous opening lines:
“Whenever you feel like criticizing any one,” he told me, “just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”
And so here’s the theory:
Jay Gatsby was black, passing for white (“High yellow”)
Lower class vs upper class. Old money vs new money. East Egg vs West Egg. White vs black. Don’t believe me?
- Early in the novel, Daisy’s beau Tom goes on a full fledged rant about the oncoming threat of the rise of the black race in society
- Another reference to race is made when Nick and Gatsby pass by a limo driven by a white chauffeur with “three modish negroes”
- Numerous references are made to Gatsby’s notably dark skintone in comparison to Daisy’s lighter skintone
- “I would have accepted without question the information that Gatsby sprang from the swamps of Louisiana or from the lower East Side of New York. That was comprehensible. But young men didn’t— at least in my provincial inexperience I believed they didn’t— drift coolly out of nowhere and buy a palace on Long Island Sound.”
Not only was the insurmountable barrier between him and Daisy one of class and upbringing, but also one of race.
What we take for granted as Gatsby’s whiteness is actually a omission of detail rather than a specific indicator that he was white.
From the article Was Gatsby Black?
Thompson adds, “When I ask people what basis there is for Gatsby being white, I get silence. I have asked students, colleagues. They don’t know. They cannot give me any evidence to back up the speculation. And why haven’t people made this argument so far?”
Of course as with any theory or reading of a classic text, there’s room for disagreement:
Fitzgerald scholar Matthew J. Bruccoli has one answer. “Because it’s mishigas! If Fitzgerald wanted to write about blacks, it wouldn’t have taken 75 years to figure it out. If that’s what Fitzgerald wanted, he would have made it perfectly clear in April 1925. Great works of literature are not fodder for guessing games. This kind of thing is bad for literature, bad for Fitzgerald, bad for ‘The Great Gatsby’ and bad for students who get exposed to this kind of guessing game.”
But why shouldn’t we play a guessing game with it? We don’t have Fitzgerald around to verify any of these details so why not have a bit of fun with the text? It’s a very modern reading of the text and it makes it not only more relatable but more heartbreaking.
Everyone has their own reasons why they can’t be with their own Daisy.
Why shouldn’t Gatsby be black? And why can’t he really be with Daisy?
In this discussion about whether or not Beethoven was black, the point is made:
Another tight question along these lines: Was Jay Gatsby black? Again, it’s probably not literally the case (as Fitzgerald intended it) –- but what’s much more interesting is everyone’s utter inability to take it seriously as a legitimate reading of the text, which it is.
So in high school I never had to read The Great Gatsby (we read The Dubliners instead, and then one of us found out about Joyce’s uh, love letters, so endless giggling), and never had an interest in reading it on my own because come on.
Another novel about a white man’s life? Nah bruh, I’m good.
But reading it within the context of Jay Gatsby as a white passing black man, suddenly my interest is piqued.
I haven’t read the book for literally a million years, so someone (allytooms?) help me out: wasn’t the racial subtext about Gatsby that he was Jewish? I know that doesn’t seem like enough of a racial problem to us, but pre-45 that would probably be plenty. Is that a thing?
Regardless it’s an interesting reading.
Yes, Gatsby is Jewish. Not just subtext— at the end his father shows up and is named Gatz.
And there’s as much specifically antisemetic commentary early on as there is general pro-aryan commentary—most of Gatsby’s alleged criminal behavior is in cahoots with one Meyer Wolfsheim.
This summer, I want to brush up on my Japanese by reading some contemporary Japanese fiction in the original. (That is, contemporary-ish: last 30 years or so.) Can anyone on the internet recommend an author who isn’t Haruki Murakami? (I like him well enough, but I’m not an OMGMURAKAMIFAN!!1!, and I want to discover someone new.)
Needless to say, it’s fine if you’ve only read Japanese fiction in translation—I just want the names of some good authors.
Chris Cobb, an artist based in San Francisco, has created an amazing installation in bookshop called Adobe Books- he catalogued every single one of the 20,000 books by color. The project is titled There is Nothing Wrong in This Whole Wide World. They were arranged by hand over a 10 hour period, and he enlisted the help of 16 volunteers. Such beautiful results, they transformed the bookshop overnight.
Like, okay, this is TOTALLY GORGEOUS and I love it, but holy crap how do you ever find anything?!
I can’t find a source for it right now, but apparently every now and then they hire a new employee who gets excited about reorganizing the store so that it’s easy to find things. And then the store owner pulls them aside and explains that that is Not How Adobe Books Works.
Sadly, they’re being evicted so that Liz Claiborne can open a “Jack Spade” store. :(
(Side note: you’ve totally been to Adobe! It’s the book store next door to Big Lantern on 16th St, with all the plants out front.)
Ars-Amatoria, are you thinking of nextian’s post about Green Apple Books?
(This really is beautiful, but I get anxious even thinking about trying to find something. I like browsing very much, but even then I like to have some idea of what sort of books are on the shelf in front of me.)
Yes, I was totally thinking about that post! I mentally conflated it with all the blog posts I’ve been reading about Adobe Books closing.
I think Adobe only had this up for a week or so before they put things back into their regular “the stacks on these shelves mostly correlate to categories, often even the ones on the labels” state. Less anxiety-inducing, but still a challenge. Adobe’s always felt more like visiting someone’s overflowing-with-books house than a bookstore.
I love to visit, but it always feels a bit wrong to take books away from their home there. Which I guess is part of why they aren’t that successful as a business. (That and the way the owner always gives everyone unexpected discounts.)