- The Great Gatsby
The Great Gatsby
Cover of the first edition, 1925.
Author(s) F. Scott Fitzgerald Cover artist Francis Cugat Country United States Language English Genre(s) Novel Publisher Charles Scribner's Sons Publication date April 10, 1925 Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback) Pages 218 pages ISBN NA & reissue ISBN 0-7432-7356-7 (2004 paperback edition)
The novel takes place following the First World War. American society enjoyed prosperity during the "roaring" 1920s as the economy soared. At the same time, Prohibition, the ban on the sale and manufacture of alcohol as mandated by the Eighteenth Amendment, made millionaires out of bootleggers. After its republishing in 1945 and 1953, it quickly found a wide readership and is today widely regarded as a paragon of the Great American Novel, and a literary classic. The Modern Library named it the second best novel of the 20th Century.
Writing and publication
With The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald made a conscious departure from the writing process of his previous novels. He started planning it in June 1922, after completing his play The Vegetable and began composing it in 1923. He ended up discarding most of it as a false start, some of which resurfaced in the story "Absolution". Unlike his previous works, Fitzgerald intended to edit and reshape Gatsby thoroughly, believing that it held the potential to launch him toward literary acclaim. He told his editor Maxwell Perkins that the novel was a "consciously artistic achievement" and a "purely creative work — not trashy imaginings as in my stories but the sustained imagination of a sincere and yet radiant world". He added later, during editing, that he felt "an enormous power in me now, more than I've ever had".
After the birth of their child, the Fitzgeralds moved to Great Neck, Long Island in October 1922, appropriating Great Neck as the setting for The Great Gatsby. Fitzgerald's neighbors included such newly wealthy New Yorkers as writer Ring Lardner, actor Lew Fields and comedian Ed Wynn. Great Neck, on the shores of Long Island Sound, sat across a bay from Manhasset Neck or Cow Neck Peninsula, which includes the communities of Port Washington, Manhasset, Port Washington North and Sands Point and was home to many of New York's wealthiest established families. In his novel, Great Neck became the new-money peninsula of "West Egg" and Manhasset Neck the old-money peninsula of "East Egg".
Progress on the novel was slow. In May 1923, the Fitzgeralds moved to the French Riviera, where the novel was finished. In November he sent the draft to his editor Maxwell Perkins and his agent Harold Ober. The Fitzgeralds moved to Rome for the winter. Fitzgerald made revisions through the winter after Perkins informed him that the novel was too vague and Gatsby's biographical section too long. Content after a few rounds of revision, Fitzgerald returned the final batch of revised galleys in the middle of February 1925.
Original cover art
The cover of The Great Gatsby is among the most celebrated pieces of jacket art in American literature. A little-known artist named Francis Cugat was commissioned to illustrate the book while Fitzgerald was in the midst of writing it. The cover was completed before the novel, with Fitzgerald so enamored by it that he told his publisher he had "written it into" the novel.
Fitzgerald's remarks about incorporating the painting into the novel led to the interpretation that the eyes are reminiscent of those of Dr. T. J. Eckleburg (the novel's erstwhile proprietor of a faded commercial billboard near George Wilson's auto repair shop) which Fitzgerald described as "blue and gigantic — their retinas are one yard high. They look out of no face, but, instead, from a pair of enormous yellow spectacles which pass over a non-existent nose." Although this passage has some resemblance to the painting, a closer explanation can be found in the description of Daisy Buchanan as the "girl whose disembodied face floated along the dark cornices and blinding signs".
Ernest Hemingway recorded in A Moveable Feast that when Fitzgerald lent him a copy of The Great Gatsby to read, he immediately disliked the cover, but "Scott told me not to be put off by it, that it had to do with a billboard along a highway in Long Island that was important in the story. He said he had liked the jacket and now he didn't like it."
The title was hard to choose. Fitzgerald was ambivalent about it, shifting between Gatsby; Among Ash-Heaps and Millionaires; Trimalchio; Trimalchio in West Egg; On the Road to West Egg; Under the Red, White, and Blue; Gold-Hatted Gatsby and The High-Bouncing Lover. Initially, he preferred Trimalchio, after the crude parvenu in Petronius's Satyricon. Unlike Fitzgerald's protagonist, Trimalchio participated in the audacious and libidinous orgies that he hosted. That Fitzgerald refers to Gatsby by the proposed title once in the novel reinforces the view that it would have been a misnomer. As Tony Tanner observed, there are subtle similarities between the two.
On November 7, 1924, Fitzgerald wrote to Perkins — "I have now decided to stick to the title I put on the book [...] Trimalchio in West Egg" but was eventually persuaded that the reference was too obscure and that people would not be able to pronounce it. His wife and Perkins both expressed their preference for The Great Gatsby and the next month Fitzgerald agreed. A month before publication, after a final review of the proofs, he asked if it would be possible to re-title it Trimalchio or Gold-Hatted Gatsby but Perkins advised against it. On March 19, Fitzgerald asked if the book could be renamed Under the Red, White and Blue but it was at that stage too late to change. The Great Gatsby was published on April 10, 1925. Fitzgerald remarked that "the title is only fair, rather bad than good".
Nick Carraway, having graduated from Yale and fought in World War I, has returned home to begin a career. He is restless and has decided to move to New York to learn the bond business. The novel opens early in the summer of 1922 in West Egg, Long Island, where Nick has rented a house next to Gatsby's mansion.
Tom and Daisy Buchanan live across the bay in the more fashionable East Egg. Daisy is Nick's cousin and Tom had been in the same senior society at Yale College. They invite Nick to dinner at their mansion where he meets a young woman named Jordan Baker, whom Daisy wants Nick to date. Daisy, who is still as beautiful and charming as she ever was, now has a young child. Tom is muscular, brusque and considers himself an intellectual. During dinner the phone rings, and when Tom and Daisy leave the room, Jordan informs Nick that the caller is Tom's mistress from New York.
Myrtle Wilson, Tom's mistress, lives in a section of Long Island known as the Valley of Ashes, where Myrtle's husband, George Wilson, owns a garage. Painted on a large billboard nearby is a fading advertisement for an ophthalmologist: a set of huge eyes looking through a pair of glasses.
Around three weeks after that evening at the Buchanans', Tom takes Nick to meet the Wilsons. He then takes Nick and Myrtle to New York to a party in a flat he is renting for her. The party breaks up when Myrtle insolently starts shouting Daisy's name, and Tom breaks her nose with a blow of his open hand.
Several weeks later Nick is invited to one of Gatsby's elaborate parties. He attends with Jordan and finds that many of the guests are uninvited and know very little about their host, leading to much speculation about his past. Nick meets Gatsby and notices that he does not drink or join in the revelry of the party.
On the way to lunch in New York with Nick, Gatsby tells Nick that he is the son of a rich family ("all dead now") from San Francisco and that he attended Oxford. During lunch Gatsby introduces Nick to his business associate, Meyer Wolfsheim, who fixed the World Series in 1919. Nick is astonished and slightly unsettled.
At tea that afternoon Nick finds out that Gatsby wants Nick to arrange a meeting between him and Daisy. Gatsby and Daisy had loved each other five years ago, but he was penniless and chose to let Daisy believe that he was as well off as she was. Gatsby was then sent overseas by the army. Daisy had given up waiting for him and had married Tom. After the War, Gatsby decided to win Daisy back by buying a house in West Egg and throwing lavish parties in the hopes that she would attend. His house is directly across the bay from hers, and he can see a green light at the end of Daisy's dock.
Gatsby and Daisy meet for the first time in five years, and he tries to impress her with his mansion and his wealth. Daisy is overcome with emotion and their relationship begins anew. She and Tom finally attend one of Gatsby's parties, but she dislikes it. Gatsby remarks unhappily that their relationship is not like how it was five years ago.
Tom, Daisy, Gatsby, Nick and Jordan get together at Daisy's house, where they meet Daisy's young daughter, whom Daisy treats as a mere pet that she quickly gives back to a maid when the child has provided a moment's entertainment. The group decide to go to the city to escape the heat. Tom, Jordan and Nick take Gatsby's car, a yellow Rolls-Royce. Daisy and Gatsby go in Tom's car, a blue coupé. On the way to the city, Tom stops at Wilson's garage to fill up the tank. Wilson is distraught and ill, saying his wife has been having an affair, though he doesn't know with whom. Tom feels Myrtle watching them from the window.
The party goes to a hotel suite, where Tom confronts Gatsby about his relationship with Daisy. Gatsby demands that Daisy leave Tom and tell him that she never loved him. Daisy is unwilling to do either, admitting that she did love Tom once, which shocks Gatsby. Tom accuses Gatsby of bootlegging and other illegal activities, and Daisy begs to go home. Gatsby and Daisy drive back together in Gatsby's car, followed by the rest of the party in Tom's car.
On the way home by Wilson's garage, Myrtle runs out into the street, believing it to be Tom coming by in his car, and the yellow Rolls-Royce hits and kills her before speeding off. Gatsby tells Daisy, who was driving, that he'll take the blame. When Tom arrives at Wilson's garage shortly afterward, he is horrified to find Myrtle dead. He believes Gatsby killed her and drives home in tears. Once home, Tom and Daisy seem to have reconciled. After a sleepless night, Nick goes over to Gatsby's house where Gatsby ponders the uncertainty of his future with Daisy.
Wilson has been restless from grief, convinced that Myrtle's death was not accidental. He goes around town inquiring about the yellow Rolls-Royce. While Gatsby is relaxing in his pool, Wilson shoots and kills him before killing himself.
Nick struggles to arrange Gatsby's funeral, finding that while he was well-connected in life, very few people, especially business associates like Wolfsheim, are willing to attend. Daisy is unable to be reached after going off on vacation with Tom. In the end, only Nick, a few servants, Mr. Gatz (Gatsby's father) and "Owl-eyes" are present. Mr. Gatz proudly tells Nick about his son, who was born James Gatz and worked tirelessly to improve and reinvent himself. Nick decides to move back West, breaking things off with Jordan Baker. After Tom reveals that he told Wilson that the yellow car was Gatsby's, Nick loses respect for the Buchanans and shakes Tom's hand one last time before going on his own way.
- Nick Carraway (narrator)—bond salesman from the Midwest, a Yale graduate, a World War I veteran, and a resident of West Egg. He is Gatsby's next-door neighbor.
- Jay Gatsby (originally James Gatz)—a young, mysterious millionaire later revealed to be a bootlegger, originally from North Dakota, with shady business connections and an obsessive love for Daisy Fay Buchanan, whom he had met when he was a young officer in World War I.
- Daisy Buchanan née Fay—an attractive and effervescent, if shallow, young woman; Nick's second cousin, once removed; and the wife of Tom Buchanan. Daisy is believed to have been inspired by Fitzgerald's own youthful romance with Chicago heiress Ginevra King.[clarification needed]
- Tom Buchanan—millionaire who lives on East Egg, and Daisy's husband. Buchanan has parallels with William Mitchell, the Chicagoan who married Ginevra King. Buchanan and Mitchell were both Chicagoans with an interest in polo. Like Ginevra's father, whom Fitzgerald resented, Buchanan attended Yale and is a white supremacist.
- Jordan Baker—She is Daisy Buchanan's long-time friend, a professional golfer with a slightly shady reputation. Fitzgerald told Maxwell Perkins that Jordan was based on the golfer Edith Cummings, a friend of Ginevra King. Her name is a play on the two then-popular automobile brands, the The Jordan Motor Car Company and the Baker Motor Vehicle, alluding to Jordan's "fast" reputation and the freedom now presented to Americans, especially women, in the 1920s.
- George B. Wilson—a mechanic and owner of a garage.
- Myrtle Wilson—George Wilson's unstable wife and Tom Buchanan's mistress.
- Meyer Wolfsheim—a Jewish man Gatsby describes as a gambler who had fixed the World Series. Wolfsheim is a clear allusion to Arnold Rothstein, a New York crime kingpin who was notoriously blamed for the Black Sox Scandal which tainted the 1919 World Series.
- Catherine—Myrtle Wilson's sister.
- Chester and Lucille McKee—Myrtle's New York friends.
- "Owl-eyes"—a drunken party-goer whom Nick meets in Gatsby's library. One of the few people to attend Gatsby's funeral.
- Ewing "The Boarder" Klipspringer—a sponger who virtually lives at Gatsby's mansion.
- Pammy Buchanan—the Buchanans' two-year-old daughter.
- Henry C. Gatz—Gatsby's somewhat estranged father in North Dakota.
- Michaelis—George Wilson's neighbor.
- Dan Cody—an adventurer who was Gatsby's mentor as a youth.
The Great Gatsby received mostly positive reviews, but not the commercial success of Fitzgerald's previous novels This Side of Paradise and The Beautiful and Damned. The book went through two printings. Years later, some of these copies were still unsold. Many of Fitzgerald's literary friends, however, wrote him letters praising the novel.
When Fitzgerald died in 1940, he had been largely forgotten. His obituary in The New York Times mentioned Gatsby as evidence that he had great potential that he never reached. But people began to read his book again, aided in part by the Armed Services Editions giving away around 150,000 copies of Gatsby to the American military in World War II.
In 1951 Arthur Mizener published The Far Side of Paradise, a biography of Fitzgerald. By the 1960s, Gatsby's reputation was established, and it is frequently mentioned as one of the great American novels.
The Great Gatsby has been filmed six times and is being filmed for a seventh time:
- The Great Gatsby, in 1926 by Herbert Brenon – a silent movie of a stage adaptation, starring Warner Baxter, Lois Wilson, and William Powell. It is a famous example of a lost film. Reviews suggest that it may have been the most faithful adaptation of the novel, but a trailer of the film at National Archives is all that is known to exist.
- The Great Gatsby, in 1949 by Elliott Nugent – starring Alan Ladd, Betty Field, and Shelley Winters; for copyright reasons, this film is not readily available.
- The Great Gatsby, in 1974, by Jack Clayton – the most famous screen version, starring Sam Waterston as narrator Nick Carraway, with Mia Farrow as Daisy Buchanan and Robert Redford as Gatsby, with a script by Francis Ford Coppola.
- The Great Gatsby, in 2000 by Robert Markowitz – a made-for-TV movie starring Toby Stephens, Paul Rudd and Mira Sorvino.
- G, in 2002 by Christopher Scott Cherot - a modernized, loosely based adaptation starring Richard T. Jones, Blair Underwood, and Chenoa Maxwell.
- The Great Gatsby, in 2007 by Lee Kang-hoon – a Korean adaptation starring Kang Kyeong-joon, Park Ye-jin and MC Mong.
- The Great Gatsby, to be directed by Baz Luhrmann and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Amitabh Bachchan, Carey Mulligan, Tobey Maguire, Callan McAuliffe, Isla Fisher, Elizabeth Debicki, and Joel Edgerton.
The second season of the Showtime television series Californication, starting with its second episode "The Great Ashby", is partly a modern take on the novel, with the characters Lew Ashby, Janie Jones and Hank Moody as modern versions of Jay Gatsby, Daisy Buchanan and Nick Carraway.
An operatic treatment of the novel was commissioned from John Harbison by the New York Metropolitan Opera to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the debut of James Levine. The work, which is also called The Great Gatsby, premiered on December 20, 1999.
- Ernesto Quiñonez's Bodega Dreams adapted The Great Gatsby to Spanish Harlem
- The Great Gatsby, a graphic novel adaptation by Australian cartoonist Nicki Greenberg
- The Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian imagines the later years of Daisy and Tom Buchanan's marriage as a social worker in 2007 investigates the possibility that a deceased elderly homeless person is Daisy's son.
- The young adult novel Jake Reinvented by Gordon Korman is a modern version of The Great Gatsby in which the characters are high school students.
- Daisy Buchanan's Daughter (2011) by Christopher Jewett is the purported autobiography of Tom and Daisy Buchanan's daughter
- In October 2008, the BBC World Service commissioned and broadcast an abridged 10-part reading of the story, read from the view of Nick Carraway by Trevor White.
- In April 2010, the folk duo Reg & Phil released a song entitled "Daisy Buchanan" on their self-titled album. The song, told by an anonymous narrator, directly addresses the novel's titular character.
- The Guthrie Theater produced the only "official" stage adaptation to be approved by the Fitzgerald Estate since 1926 to commemorate the opening of its new theatre in July 2006. Written by Simon Levy, directed by David Esbjornson, and subsequently produced by Seattle Repertory Theatre, a revised/reworked version, to be directed by Timothy Sheader, is in pre-production for a London opening in 2011.
- Elevator Repair Service, an experimental theater group, produced a theater version of The Great Gatsby, entitled "Gatz." It is set in an office and read and performed by actor Scott Shepherd along with a cast of 12 other actors.
- In 2010 a casual Hidden Object game called Classic Adventures: The Great Gatsby was released by Oberon Media.
- As a tribute to old NES games, developer Charlie Hoey and editor Pete Smith created an 8-bit version of The Great Gatsby that is playable online.
- ^ Vavilikolanu, Priyanka. "100 Best Novels". Manager. Modern Library. http://www.modernlibrary.com/top-100/100-best-novels/. Retrieved 22 August 2011.
- ^ a b Bruccoli 2000, pp. 53–54
- ^ Leader, Zachary. "Daisy packs her bags". London Review of Books. http://www.lrb.co.uk/v22/n18/lead01_.html
- ^ Bruccoli 2000, p. 45
- ^ Bruccoli 2000, pp. 38–39
- ^ Bruccoli 2000, pp. 54–56
- ^ a b c Scribner, Charles III. "Celestial Eyes/ Scribner III Celestial Eyes—from Metamorphosis to Masterpiece". In Bruccoli 2000, pp. 160–68. Originally published in 1991.
- ^ Hemingway, Ernest (1964). A Moveable Feast. New York: Scribner. p. 176. ISBN 978-0-684-82499-4.
- ^ Tanner's introduction to the Penguin edition (2000), p. vii-viii.
- ^ Bruccoli 2002, pp. 206–07
- ^ Bruccoli 2002, pp. 215–17
- ^ a b Bruccoli 2000, pp. 9–11
- ^ Bruccoli 2000, p. 29
- ^ One example is this 1925 New York Times review
- ^ Bruccoli 2000, p. 175
- ^ "Scott Fitzgerald, Author, Dies at 44". Nytimes.com. 1940-12-23. http://www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/bday/0924.html. Retrieved 2010-08-30.
- ^ Bruccoli 2000, p. 217
- ^ A summary of interpretations from publication to present day can be found in Nicolas Tredell, F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, Columbia 1999
- ^ a b c Winston Dixon, Wheeler (2003). "The Three Film Versions of The Great Gatsby: A Vision Deferred". Literature Film Quarterly. Archived from the original on 2007-07-11. http://web.archive.org/web/20070711080728/http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3768/is_200301/ai_n9219407. Retrieved 2008-03-11 [dead link]
- ^ December 7, 2008 (2008-12-07). "'Californication': Journey to the end of the night". Latimesblogs.latimes.com. p. m. http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/showtracker/2008/12/californicati-1.html. Retrieved 2010-08-30.
- ^ October 19, 2008 (2008-10-19). "'Californication': Free Bird". Latimesblogs.latimes.com. p. m. http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/showtracker/2008/10/californicati-2.html. Retrieved 2010-08-30.
- ^ Stevens, David (December 29, 1999). "Harbison Mixes Up A Great 'Gatsby'". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/1999/12/29/style/29iht-gatsby.t.html. Retrieved 8 April 2011.
- ^ "BBC World Service programmes - The Great Gatsby". Bbc.co.uk. 2007-12-10. http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/programmes/081021_great_gatsby.shtml. Retrieved 2010-08-30.
- ^ "Reg & Phil Bandcamp Discography". Regandphil.bandcamp.com. 2010-04-22. http://regandphil.bandcamp.com. Retrieved 2010-08-30.
- ^ "Elevator Repair Service - Gatz". Elevator.org. http://www.elevator.org/shows/show.php?show=gatz. Retrieved 2010-08-30.
- ^ "Scott Shepherd". Studio 360. 2007-04-06. http://www.studio360.org/americanicons/episodes/2007/04/06/segments/76578. Retrieved 2010-08-30.
- ^ Paskin, Willa (2010-07-15). "The Great Gatsby, Now a Video Game - Vulture". Nymag.com. http://nymag.com/daily/entertainment/2010/07/the_great_gatsby_now_a_video_g.html. Retrieved 2010-08-30.
- ^ Melissa Bell (2011-02-15). "Great Gatsby 'Nintendo' game released online". The Washington Post. http://voices.washingtonpost.com/blog-post/2011/02/great_gatsby_nintendo_game_rel.html. Retrieved 2011-02-15.
- Bruccoli, Matthew Joseph (ed.) (2000). F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby: A Literary Reference. New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers. ISBN 0786709960
- Bruccoli, Matthew Joseph (2002). Some Sort of Epic Grandeur: The Life of F. Scott Fitzgerald (2nd rev. ed.). Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press. ISBN 1570034559
- Curnutt, Kirk (ed.) (2004). A Historical Guide to F. Scott Fitzgerald. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195153022
- Mizener, Arthur (1951). The Far Side of Paradise: A Biography of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt .
- Prigozy, Ruth (ed.) (2002). The Cambridge Companion to F. Scott Fitzgerald. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521624479
- Beuka, Robert (2011), American Icon: Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby in Critical and Cultural Context, Rochester, NY: Camden House, ISBN 9781571133717
- The Great Gatsby, from Project Gutenberg Australia, plain text.
- The Great Gatsby, in Wikilivres.info
OtherJay Gatsby · The Great Gatsby (opera) Works by F. Scott Fitzgerald Novels Short story
Flappers and Philosophers
Tales of the Jazz Age
All the Sad Young Men
Taps at Reveille
(1935)"The Scandal Detectives" · "The Freshest Boy" · "He Thinks He's Wonderful" · "The Captured Shadow" · "The Perfect Life" · "First Blood" · "A Nice Quiet Place" · "A Woman with a Past" · "Crazy Sunday" · "Two Wrongs" · "The Night of Chancellorsville" · "The Last of the Belles" · "Majesty" · "Family in the Wind" · "A Short Trip Home" · "One Interne" · "The Fiend" · "Babylon Revisited"
Posthumous works PlaysThe Vegetable, or From President to Postman Books
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