In high schools across the country, The Great Gatsby is taught as a cautionary tale about decadence and the American Dream. We will assume that the participants in this Delve do not need to be warned about overspending and becoming involved with glamorous, shallow people, and focus instead on the ways Fitzgerald made the materials of his own life into what have become literary classics. After his early attempts at satire proved unsuccessful, Fitzgerald returned to subjects he couldn’t help but take seriously (love, ambition, self-deception, etc.), and at the same time sought out experiences he could transform and intensify on the page. We will read Gatsby as well as a selection of the popular short stories he wrote throughout his career, drifting back and forth between illusion and disillusion.
Guide: Lucas Bernhardt holds MAs in English and in Writing from Portland State University, as well as an MFA in Creative Writing from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. He is the Project Manager for the Portland State University Writing Center and is managing editor of Propeller Quarterly, a literature and art magazine.