OPW: The Great Gatsby

I mentioned recently that The Great Gatsby has the best first and last lines of any book I know. So on today’s Other People’s Words, those lines.

In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.

“Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone,” he told me, “just remember that all the people in this wold haven’t had the advantages you’ve had.”

He didn’t say any more but we’ve always been unusually communicative in a reserved was and understood that he meant a great deal more than that. In consequence I’m inclined to reserve all judgments, a habit that has opened up many curious natures to me…

And as I sat there, brooding on the old unknown world, I though of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green lights at the end of Daisy’s dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night.

Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then but that’s no matter–tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther…. And then one fine morning–

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

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