Study Guide

The Great Gatsby Genre

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Literary Fiction, Modernism, Satire

We admit it, "literary fiction" is a little bit of a cop-out: it's an umbrella term for a story or novel that focuses more on character development and style than on page-turning plots. Less Twilight; more Freedom. This is the kind of lit that you usually read in school: books that provoke discussion over what it all means.

The Great Gatsby definitely fits. Fitzgerald is much more interested in plumbing the depths of Gatsby's heart and in experimenting with symbolic language than he is in working through the latest forensic evidence to figure out who hit Myrtle with his (or her) car. We're not talking CSI: West Egg.

And the way Nick's narration jumps around, shifting from dialogue to personal meditation to foreshadowing and back again, tips us off that The Great Gatsby is also a Modernist work. It's fragmented and non-linear, because it's trying to get at difficult truths that a more realistic book might not capture. (So, if The Great Gatsby floats your boat, check out some of our learning guides on Fitzgerald's fellow modernists, like Ernest Hemingway or James Joyce.)

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