Written in 1925, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby is widely considered to be one of the author’s greatest works. Set in New York City and Long Island during the Roaring Twenties, the focus of the story is (of course) its title character, Jay Gatsby, and his unswerving desire to be reunited with Daisy Buchanan, the love he lost five years earlier. However, Nick Carraway, who happens to be both Gatsby’s neighbor and Daisy’s cousin, narrates Gatsby's journey from poverty to wealth, into the arms of his beloved, and eventually to death. The Great Gatsby is undoubtedly one of the greatest American literary documents of the 1920s, the decade for which Fitzgerald himself coined the term “Jazz Age.” However, in writing the book, Fitzgerald was in fact holding up a mirror to the society of which he was a part. In true Modernist fashion, The Great Gatsby addresses the social issues of the period — namely materialism and displaced spirituality — that ultimately led the decline of the era. The novel’s initial sales situation was less than impressive; fewer than 25,000 copies were sold by Fitzgerald’s death in 1940. But The Great Gatsby gained great popularity during WWII as the critical mainstream began to embrace the author’s work. The Armed Services Editions circulated 150,000 copies to troops alone. Today, The Great Gatsby has sold over 25 million copies worldwide, sells an additional 500,000 copies annually, and is Scribner's most popular title. Ranked #2 on the Modern Library’s list of the 100 Best Novels of the 20th Century, the novel is also listed on their Top 100 Novels as well as The Observer’s All-Time 100 Best Novels and Time Magazine’s 100 Best Modern Novels. The Great Gatsby has resulted in a number of adaptations, including Baz Luhrmann’s 2013 major motion picture starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan, and Joel Edgerton. ...
Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death is a satirical novel by Kurt Vonnegut and is generally recognized as his most influential and popular work. Set around World War II, the novels tells of the story of Billy Pilgrim, a chaplain’s assistant, and his experiences and journeys through time. Billy sees when, how, and why he will die, resulting in his becoming fatalistic. The refrain “so it goes” is used when death, dying, and mortality occur and it appears in the book 106 times. Additionally, the novel can be read as semi-autobiographical: Vonnegut was present during the firebombing of Dresden, a central event in the novel. Shortly after publication, Slaughterhouse-Five was nominated for two best novel recognitions, a Nebula Award and a Hugo Award, though it lost both to Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness. The Modern Library ranked Slaughterhouse-Five eighteenth on its list of the “100 Best” English-language novels of the 20th century in 1998. It is also listed in TIME’s “100 Best Novels” (since 1923). However, mainly due to its irreverent tone and obscene content, Slaughterhouse-Five has been the subject of many attempts at censorship. The novel treats one of the most horrific massacres in European history—the firebombing of Dresden—with mock-serious humor and clear antiwar sentiment. It also depicts sexuality to a revolutionary extent as one of the first literary acknowledgments that homosexual men, referred to in the novel as “fairies,” were among the victims of the Nazi Holocaust. Thus, Slaughterhouse-Five is listed in the American Library Association's list of the “Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990–1999” as well as the ALA's “Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2000–2009.” The novel has been adapted more than a handful of times, most notably a film adaptation by the same name made in 1972. Although the film did poorly in the box office, it was critically praised, winning the Prix du Jury at the 1972 Cannes Film Festival. ...
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