F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him, some heightened sensitivity to the promises of life, as if he were related to one of those intricate machines that register earthquakes ten thousand miles away.

Picking a beautiful sentence from Gatsby is like trolling a beach littered with perfect white shells. But this one’s pretty damn good. First there’s the initial, singular definition of personality–the idea that what is in us is made of a series of “successful gestures.” I don’t know if I agree with that, but somehow, in the world of this book, it makes perfect sense. But what nails this sentence down is the comparison between Gatsby and a machine that can sense earthquakes from ten thousand miles. What a thing to say about a person. Of Fitzgerald’s many gifts, the one that shows here is an ability to capture something ineffable about one of his characters in such a small space.

Leave a Reply