Wednesday, 11 September 2013

'What Richard Did' and 'The Great Gatsby'

At the moment I'm preparing a talk on 'Fitzgerald Beyond Gatsby' to give to the Woodstock Literature Society in a couple of weeks' time (to be followed by an adapted version of the talk at OUDCE's Open Day). In thinking about the talk I came across Sarah Churchwell's wonderful 'biography' of The Great Gatsby, Careless People, which considers the scandal and real-life stories of Scott and Zelda and their whirl of friends in the giddy '20s.

Churchwell discusses in her book how Gatsby is both completely of its moment and entirely relevant to our times, and this is what was playing in my mind when last night I watched the superlative 2013 Irish film What Richard Did, about the privileged 'D4' set living in the south side of Dublin. And in both The Great Gatsby and What Richard Did we are shown, in strikingly similar ways, how money and influence can buy silence -- even when the worst happens. Both also put me in mind of Donna Tartt's wonderful novel The Secret History (1992); in all three stories the power that tantalises is also the thing that we come most to fear...

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