In my youthful years, when a person is especially susceptible, I somehow received advice from my father, which I remembered for a long time.
“If you suddenly want to condemn someone,” he said, “remember that not all people in the world have the advantages that you possessed.”
He added nothing to this, but we always understood each other perfectly without further ado, and it was clear to me that he thought much more than he said. This is where my habit of restraint in judgments came from – a habit that often served me as the key to the most complex natures and more often made me a victim of tired nagging. An unhealthy mind always senses this restraint at once, if it is manifested in an ordinary, normal person, and hurries to cling to it; even in college, I was unjustly accused of politicking, because the most inhospitable and secluded students confided to me their secret sorrows. I didn’t look for such confidence at all – how many times, having noticed some symptoms foreshadowing the next intimate confession, I started to yawn sleepily, in a hurry to bury my head in a book or let on a perky frivolous tone of self; after all, the intimate confessions of young people, at least the verbal form in which they are clothed, are usually plagiarism and, moreover, suffer from obvious omissions. Restraint in judgment is a pledge of inexhaustible hope. I am still afraid of missing something if I forget that (as my father spoke not without snobbery and I repeat after him with snobbery) the sense of basic moral values is not released by nature to everyone in equal measure.
And now, having praised my tolerance, I must confess that this tolerance has limits. Human behavior may be under a different soil – solid granite or viscous bog; but at some point I do not care what the ground is beneath. When I returned from New York last fall, I wanted the whole world to be morally draped in uniform and hold on “at attention”. I no longer sought fascinating forays with the privilege of looking into human souls. Only for Gatsby, the man by whose name this book is named, I made an exception – Gatsby seemed to embody everything that I sincerely despise and despise. If you measure your personality with your ability to express yourself, then this person was truly something magnificent, some kind of heightened sensitivity to all promises of life, as if he was part of one of those complex instruments that record tremors somewhere tens of thousands of miles away. This ability to respond instantly had nothing to do with the flabby impressionability, magnificently called the “artistic temperament,” it was a rare gift of hope, a romantic fuse that I had never met in anyone and probably wouldn’t meet. No, Gatsby justified himself in the end; not him, but the fact that he was under the influence of the poisonous dust that heaved around his dreams — this made me temporarily lose all interest in human fleeting sorrows and joys in a hurry.
I belong to a respectable wealthy family, now in the third generation playing a prominent role in the life of our mid-western town. Carrauei is a whole clan, and, according to family tradition, he leads his ancestry from the Dukes of Bakle, but the father of our branch must be considered my grandfather’s brother, who came here in 1851, sent a mercenary for himself to the Federal Army and opened his own business in wholesale of hardware, which is now headed by my father.
I have never seen this of my ancestor, but it is believed that I resemble him, which is supposed to serve as proof of a rather gloomy portrait hanging from his father in the office. I graduated from Yale University in 1915, exactly a quarter of a century after my father, and a little later I took part in the Great World War – the name that is usually given to the late migration of the Teutonic tribes. The counterattack was so fascinating to me that when I returned home I could not find peace in myself. The Midwest now seemed to me not as the seething center of the universe, but rather the frayed hem of the universe; and in the end I decided to go to the East and study the loan business. All my friends served in the credit part; so is there really no place for one more person? The whole family synclite was convened, as if it was about choosing the right educational institution for me; Aunts and uncles talked for a long time, anxiously frowning foreheads, and finally hesitantly uttered: “Well, oh well …” My father agreed to give me financial support for one year, and so, after long delays, in the spring of 1922 I arrived in New York as I thought at that time – forever.
It would have been more prudent to find an apartment in New York itself, but it was going to fly by the summer, but I still did not have time to grow out of the wide green lawns and the tender shade of the trees, and therefore, when one young colleague offered to live with him somewhere in the suburbs, I really liked this idea. He also found a house – an eighty dollars a month covered roofing yard, but at the last minute the company sent him to Washington, and I had to get settled myself. I started a dog – though it ran away after a few days – I bought an old Dodge and hired an elderly Finn who cleaned my bed in the mornings and cooked breakfast on the electric stove, muttering some Finnish wisdom under his breath. At first I felt lonely, but on the third or fourth morning I was stopped near a train station by someone who apparently had just stepped off the train.