In my younger and more tender years my father gave me some advice that I've been thinking about ever since.
"Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone," he told me, "just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had."
He didn't say any more, but I understood that he meant a great deal more than that. Therefore, I reserve all judgements, a habit that has made many unusual people open up to me. But even if I boast of being tolerant, I admit that there is a limit.
When I came back from the East last autumn, I felt that I no longer wanted people to come to me to confess what went on in their human hearts. Gatsby, the man who gives his name to this book, stood for everything that I scorn. Yet he had an extraordinary gift for hope such as I have never found in any other person and which it is not likely I shall ever find again. Gatsby turned out to be all right at the end. Because of the foul dust that came in the wake of his dreams, I no longer wanted to take an interest in the actions of men for a time.
My family have been important, wealthy people in a Middle Western city for about a hundred years. The Carraways are something of a clan. My grandfather's brother came here in 1851 and started a business, which my father carries on today.
I graduated from Yale University in 1915, just 25 years after my father, and a little later I was in the Great War. When I came back, I decided to go East and learn the bond business. Everybody I knew was in the bond business, and after various delays I came East, permanently, I thought, in the spring of 1922.
The practical thing was to find rooms in the city, but it was a warm season, so when a young man at the office suggested that we take a house together in a town nearby, it sounded like a great idea. He found the house, but at the last minute the firm ordered him to Washington, and I went out to the country alone.
It was a matter of chance that I should have rented a house in one of the strangest communities in North America. It was on the island which extends due east of New York - and where there are, among other natural curiosities, two unusual formations of land. Twenty miles from the city a pair of enormous eggs jut out into the salt water of Long Island Sound.
I lived at West Egg, the - well, the less fashionable of the two. My house was at the very tip of the egg, only fifty yards from the Sound, and lying between two huge places that rented for twelve or fifteen thousand a season. The one on my right was an enormous house by any standard with a new tower on one side and a large swimming pool, and more than forty acres of lawn and garden. It was Gatsby's mansion. Or rather, as I didn't know Mr Gatsby, it was a mansion lived in by a gentleman of that name. My own house was small and ugly, but I had a view of the water and it rented for eighty dollars a month.
to criticize, find fault with
advantage, something likely to bring success
tolerant, allowing ideas and behaviour different from one's own
scorn, look down on
foul, smelling badly, wicked
come in the wake of, follow
clan, large family group
to graduate, to pass the final university exam
bond, printed paper made out by a business firm as a receipt for money lent to it
community, group of people living together
curiosity, strange object
to jut out, to stick out
fashionable, elegant and modern
acre, about 4000 square metres
F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Great Gatsby; D: based on a vocabulary of 2500 words; edited by Hanne Bitsch Hansen; Easy Reader edition, Aschehoug A/S (Egmont), Denmark