In the traditional Romance narrative, there is some desirable object whose consummation is the driving preoccupation of the text's protagonist. The aspiration of the Romantic hero is to capture that elusive object that will, nevertheless, consistently out-strip him. These heroes are intimately acquainted with the pain of the loss and suffer deeply for feeling so acutely. However, loss itself, is essential to the equation and is, in fact, a large portion of what establishes the thing as desirable.
In the texts of traditional Romanticism the individual has preeminence, and his or her subjective psychological experience with the loss in question is the major concern. The realization that Romantic subject's drama plays itself out against the backdrop of a system in which the value of a thing is directly proportionate to its scarcity, is the first step beyond traditional Romanticism. Realist texts are conscious of the shaping influence that the socio-political has on the individual's ideology - They are consciousness of the impact of Capitalism. The industrialization of that era (late 19th, early 20th century), and the subsequent commodification of everything, creates the crisis of self. The central questions that arises in these contexts concerns the extent to which the individual can be perceived as individual, capable of imaginative aspirations outside the economic determinism of his society. The central question to Realist authors is: Are we dealing with the loss of actualized selves or merely cogs, and if the latter is the case, what have we lost?
With this question still relatively unanswered, Scott Fitzgerald's "Wi...
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...ve (though not the grief itself). He wants to care. Fitzgerald makes his readers care about "the loss of illusions that give such color to the world" - those exquisite "winter dreams" (Preface, Gatsby XV). He compels us to ask the two great Keatsian questions:
Was it a vision, or a waking dream?
Fled is that music:- Do I wake or sleep?
Ode to the Nightingale, Stanza 8
Fitzgerald, F. Scott. "Winter Dreams." in The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Ed. Nina Baym. 4th Edition. New York/London: W.W. Norton & Company, 1999. 2125 - 2141.
Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York: Scribner Paperback Fiction, 1925.
Hegel, G.W.F. Encyclopedia of Philosophical Sciences. New York: Continuum, 1990.
Jameson, Fredric. Postmodernism or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. Durham: Duke University Press, 1991.
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