Monday, April 13, 2009

Liver Exercises and Willie Voltaire

In the spirit of sharing, here are two of my favorite little moments in The Great Gatsby.
The oddest line for the contemporary reader is probably

-- intruding into one chamber where a dishevelled man in pajamas was doing liver exercises on the floor. (91)


But Chapter IV, in which he describes the Long Island crowd, is filled with great nuggets as well. For example:

From East Egg, then, came the Chester Beckers and the Leeches, and a man named Bunsen, whom I knew in Yale, and Doctor Webster Civet, who was drowned last summer up in Maine. And the Hornbeams and the Willie Voltaires, and a whole clan named Blackbuck, who always gathered in a corner and flipped up their noses like goats at whosoever came near. And the Ismays and the Chrysties (or rather Hubert Auerbach and Mr. Chrystie’s wife), and Edgar Beaver, whose hair, they say, turned cotton-white one winter afternoon for no good reason at all. (61-2)

2 comments:

Mya Barrett said...

Liver exercises? I picture someone with a piece of liver, stretching it, massaging it, getting it ready for the pan. lol It's always interesting to see how language changes.

Goedi said...

I googled it. I think it's some sort of self-massage. It does involve lying on one's back in order to relax everything around the liver.
Next time I have a drink, I'll think about liver exercises.