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Could you please tell me the meaning of the following excerpt from the chapter IX...

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coutelle | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted May 2, 2013 at 12:21 PM via web

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Could you please tell me the meaning of the following excerpt from the chapter IX of The Great Gatsby, especially the phrases "grotesque, circumstantial, eager" and "racy pasquinade". Does "pasquinade" refer to a kind of lampoon?

Most of those reports were a nightmare—grotesque, circumstantial, eager and untrue. When Michaelis's testimony at the inquest brought to light Wilson's suspicions of his wife I thought the whole tale would shortly be served up in racy pasquinade—but Catherine, who might have said anything, didn't say a word. 

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e-martin | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted May 2, 2013 at 1:57 PM (Answer #1)

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In this passage we see that even after Gatsby's death, people continue to spread exaggerated rumors about him. This has been a continuous facet of Gatsby's public persona.

He is seen always as something other than he really is as stories swirl about Gatsby as cousin to Kaiser Wilhelm and other outlandish things. Now dead, Gatsby continues to be the subject of speculation, exaggeration and wild stories.

Nick reports that this is the case when facts surrounding Gatsby's death are being gathered by the police.

The terms being used, "grotesque", "circumstantial", and "eager", suggest that the testimony being given is better understood as conjecture, guessing, story-telling or hyperbole.

Being circumstantial, the stories are not explanatory but instead point to circumstances or facts that do not indicate anything in particular. Being grotesque, the stories paint a picture of inhuman characters, disproportionate to reality, and in bad taste. Being eager, the stories are told by people more interested in being heard than in telling the truth; in participating in the excitement of the drama. 

You are correct about the term "pascquinade". This phrase refers to a public lampoon or farce. Catherine, Myrtle's sister, is one of the few people who was aware of many of the actual facts surrounding Myrtle's death and Gatsby's. She would have made a confession of those tawdry and embarrassing and largely sexually-driven facts.  



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