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'A Matter of Infinite Hope': 16 Poignant Lines from 'The Great Gatsby'

“With the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.” So begins F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby, now considered a classic for its depictions of flawed characters navigating romance and class during a Prohibition-era summer.

By turns lush and exhilarating, as well as dangerous and melancholy, Fitzgerald’s prose has inspired readers for decades. Set against the backdrop of fictional West Egg, New York, the novel is revered for its vibrant renderings of champagne-soaked parties and idyllic suburban landscapes. But the visual descriptions aren’t all that readers remember: From Daisy Buchanan’s lament that her daughter will be a “beautiful little fool” to Jordan Baker’s declaration that large parties are “so intimate. At small parties there isn’t any privacy,” the novel is full of memorable characters and dialogue that remain imprinted on our collective consciousness over a century later.

While Fitzgerald’s novel is rooted in the deceptive glitz of the 1920s, its themes are still relevant today. Whether encouraging us to seize the moment or describing self-discovery, The Great Gatsby offers insight into life, love, determination, and the invisible lines that divide us. Read on for a fresh look at 15 striking quotes from one of the 20th century’s most acclaimed literary works.

I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life.
— Nick Carraway

Let us learn to show our friendship for a man when he is alive and not after he is dead.
— Meyer Wolfsheim

Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.
— Jordan Baker

Can't repeat the past?... Why of course you can!
— Jay Gatsby

Tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther.
— Jay Gatsby

Whenever you feel like criticizing any one… just remember that all the people in this world haven't had the advantages that you've had.
— Nick Carraway

Personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures.
— Nick Carraway

Laughter is easier minute by minute, spilled with prodigality, tipped out at a cheerful word.
— Nick Carraway

Reserving judgments is a matter of infinite hope.
— Nick Carraway

People disappeared, reappeared, made plans to go somewhere, and then lost each other, searched for each other, found each other a few feet away.
— Nick Carraway

There are only the pursued, the pursuing, the busy and the tired.
— Nick Carraway

Life is much more successfully looked at from a single window.
— Nick Carraway

She wanted her life shaped now, immediately — and the decision must be made by some force — of love, of money, of unquestionable practicality — that was close at hand.
— Nick Carraway

No amount of fire or freshness can challenge what a man will store up in his ghostly heart.
— Nick Carraway

As I walked on I was lonely no longer. I was a guide, a pathfinder, an original settler.
— Nick Carraway

Photo credit: CBW/ Alamy Stock Photo

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About the Author
Paola Bennet
Paola Bennet is a writer based in Brooklyn, NY. She writes a fortnightly newsletter that treasures the mundane, called Small Histories. Find her on Instagram @paolafbennet.
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