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The Great Gatsby is a 1925 novel written by American author F. Scott Fitzgerald that follows a cast of characters living in the fictional towns of West Egg and East Egg on prosperous Long Island in the summer of 1922. The story primarily concerns the young and mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby and his quixotic passion and obsession with the beautiful former debutante Daisy Buchanan. Considered to be Fitzgerald's magnum opus, The Great Gatsby explores themes of decadence, idealism, resistance to change, social upheaval, and excess, creating a portrait of the Roaring Twenties that has been described as a cautionary tale regarding the American Dream.[1][2]

The Great Gatsby
TheGreatGatsby 1925jacket.jpeg
Cover of the first edition in 1925
AuthorF. Scott Fitzgerald
Cover artistFrancis Cugat
CountryUnited States
PublishedApril 10, 1925
(Charles Scribner's Sons)
Media typePrint (hardcover & paperback)
Preceded byThe Beautiful and Damned (1922) 
Followed byTender Is the Night (1934) 

Fitzgerald—inspired by the parties he had attended while visiting Long Island's North Shore—began planning the novel in 1923, desiring to produce, in his words, "something new—something extraordinary and beautiful and simple and intricately patterned."[3] Progress was slow, with Fitzgerald completing his first draft following a move to the French Riviera in 1924. His editor, Maxwell Perkins, felt the book was vague and persuaded the author to revise over the following winter. Fitzgerald was repeatedly ambivalent about the book's title and he considered a variety of alternatives, including titles that referred to the Roman character Trimalchio; the title he was last documented to have desired was Under the Red, White, and Blue.

First published by Scribner's in April 1925, The Great Gatsby received mixed reviews and sold poorly; in its first year, the book sold only 20,000 copies. Fitzgerald died in 1940, believing himself to be a failure and his work forgotten. However, the novel experienced a revival during World War II, and became a part of American high school curricula and numerous stage and film adaptations in the following decades. Today, The Great Gatsby is widely considered to be a literary classic and a contender for the title "Great American Novel."


Historical contextEdit

Set on the prosperous Long Island of 1922, The Great Gatsby provides a critical social history of America during the Roaring Twenties within its fictional narrative. That era, known for widespread economic prosperity, the development of jazz music, flapper culture, new technologies in communication (motion pictures, broadcast radio, recorded music) forging a genuine mass culture, and bootlegging, along with other criminal activity, is plausibly depicted in Fitzgerald's novel. Fitzgerald uses many of these societal developments of the 1920s to build Gatsby's stories, from many of the simple details like automobiles to broader themes like Fitzgerald's discreet allusions to the organized crime culture which was the source of Gatsby's fortune.[4] Fitzgerald depicts the garish society of the Roaring Twenties by placing the book's plotline within the historical context of the era.[5]

Fitzgerald's visits to Long Island's North Shore and his experience attending parties at mansions inspired The Great Gatsby's setting. Today, there are a number of theories as to which mansion was the inspiration for the book. One possibility is Land's End, a notable Gold Coast Mansion where Fitzgerald may have attended a party.[6] Many of the events in Fitzgerald's early life are reflected throughout The Great Gatsby. Fitzgerald was a young man from Minnesota, and, like Nick, who went to Yale, he was educated at an Ivy League school, Princeton. Fitzgerald is also similar to Jay Gatsby in that he fell in love while stationed far from home in the military and fell into a life of decadence trying to prove himself to the girl he loved. Fitzgerald became a second lieutenant and was stationed at Camp Sheridan in Montgomery, Alabama. There he met and fell in love with a wild 17-year-old beauty named Zelda Sayre. Zelda finally agreed to marry him, but her preference for wealth, fun, and leisure led her to delay their wedding until he could prove a success.[7] Like Nick in The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald found this new lifestyle seductive and exciting, and, like Gatsby, he had always idolized the very rich.[7] In many ways, The Great Gatsby represents Fitzgerald's attempt to confront his conflicted feelings about the Jazz Age. Like Gatsby, Fitzgerald was driven by his love for a woman who symbolized everything he wanted, even as she led him toward everything he despised.[7]

In her book Careless People: Murder, Mayhem and the Invention of The Great Gatsby (2013), Sarah Churchwell speculates that parts of the ending of The Great Gatsby were based on the Hall-Mills Case.[8] Based on her forensic search for clues, she asserts that the two victims in the Hall-Mills murder case inspired the characters who were murdered in The Great Gatsby.[9]

Plot summaryEdit

In the summer of 1922, Nick Carraway, a Yale graduate from the Midwest and veteran of the Great War —who serves as the novel's narrator—takes a job in New York as a bond salesman. He rents a small house on Long Island, in the fictional village of West Egg, next door to the lavish mansion of Jay Gatsby, a mysterious multi-millionaire who holds extravagant parties but does not participate in them. Nick drives around the bay to East Egg for dinner at the home of his beautiful cousin, Daisy Fay Buchanan, and her husband, Tom, a college acquaintance of Nick's. They introduce Nick to Jordan Baker, an attractive, cynical young golfer. She reveals to Nick that Tom has a mistress, Myrtle Wilson, who lives in the "valley of ashes,"[10] an industrial dumping ground between West Egg and New York City. Not long after this revelation, Nick travels to New York City with Tom to a garage owned by Myrtle's husband George Wilson, before heading to an apartment that Tom uses like a hotel room for Myrtle, as well as other women with whom he also sleeps. At Tom's New York apartment, a vulgar and bizarre party takes place. It ends with Tom physically abusing Myrtle, breaking her nose in the process, after she says Daisy's name several times, which makes him angry.

The Plaza Hotel in the early 1920s

Nick eventually receives an invitation to one of Gatsby's parties. Nick encounters Jordan Baker at the party and they meet Gatsby himself, an aloof and surprisingly young man who recognizes Nick because they were in the same division in the Great War. Through Jordan, Nick later learns that Gatsby knew Daisy through a purely chance meeting in 1917 when Daisy and her friends were doing volunteer service work with young officers headed to Europe. From their brief meetings and casual encounters at that time, Gatsby became (and still is) deeply in love with Daisy. Gatsby had hoped that his wild parties would attract an unsuspecting Daisy, who lived across the bay, to appear at his doorstep and allow him to present himself as a man of wealth and position.

Having developed a budding friendship with Nick, Gatsby uses him to arrange a reunion between himself and Daisy. Nick invites Daisy to have tea at his house without telling her that Gatsby will also be there. After an initially awkward reunion, Gatsby takes Nick and Daisy to his large mansion in an attempt to show Daisy his wealth and sophistication. Daisy, Nick and Gatsby spend the day enjoying all the activities Gatsby can provide and Nick realizes Daisy is still in love with Gatsby. Soon, the two begin an affair. At a luncheon at the Buchanan estate, Daisy speaks to Gatsby with such undisguised intimacy that Tom realizes their affair. Though Tom is himself an adulterer, he is outraged by his wife's infidelity. The group decides to drive to the Plaza Hotel, where Tom confronts Gatsby in his suite, asserting that he and Daisy have a history that Gatsby could never understand. In addition to that, he announces to his wife that Gatsby is a criminal whose fortune comes from bootlegging alcohol and other illegal activities. Daisy decides to stay with Tom, and Tom contemptuously sends her back to East Egg with Gatsby, attempting to prove that Gatsby cannot hurt him.

On the way back, Gatsby's car strikes and kills Tom's mistress, Myrtle. Nick later learns that Daisy, not Gatsby himself, was driving the car at the time of the accident. George falsely concludes that the driver of the yellow car is the secret lover he suspects his wife had. George learns from Tom that the yellow car is Jay Gatsby's. He fatally shoots Gatsby at his pool, and then turns the gun on himself. Nick organizes a funeral for Gatsby, but only one of Gatsby's party-goers and his estranged father, Henry Gatz, attend. None of Gatsby's business associates come nor does Daisy. Nick runs into Tom in New York and learns it was Tom who told George the yellow car belonged to Gatsby, and gave him Gatsby's address. Disillusioned with the East, Nick moves back to the Midwest, having decided not to tell Tom that it was Daisy behind the wheel of the car that killed Myrtle.

Major charactersEdit

  • Nick Carraway—a Yale University graduate from the Midwest, a World War I veteran, and, at the start of the plot, a newly arrived resident of West Egg, age 29 (later 30). He also serves as the first-person narrator of the novel. He is Gatsby's next-door neighbor and a bond salesman. He is easy-going, occasionally sarcastic, and somewhat optimistic, although this latter quality fades as the novel progresses. He is more grounded and more practical than the other characters, and is always in awe of their lifestyles and morals.
  • Jay Gatsby (originally James "Jimmy" Gatz)—a young, mysterious millionaire with shady business connections (later revealed to be a bootlegger), originally from North Dakota. He is obsessed with Daisy Buchanan, a beautiful debutante from Louisville, Kentucky whom he met when he was a young military officer stationed at the Army's Camp Taylor in Louisville during World War I. According to Some Sort of Epic Grandeur, Matthew J. Bruccoli's biography of F. Scott Fitzgerald, the character is based on the bootlegger and former World War officer, Max Gerlach. Gatsby is also said to have briefly studied at Trinity College, Oxford in England after the end of the war.
  • Daisy Buchanan – an attractive, though shallow and self-absorbed, young debutante and socialite from Louisville, Kentucky, identified as a flapper.[11] She is Nick's second cousin once removed, and the wife of Tom Buchanan. Before she married Tom, Daisy had a romantic relationship with Gatsby. Her choice between Gatsby and Tom is one of the central conflicts in the novel. Daisy is believed to have been inspired by Fitzgerald's own youthful romances with Ginevra King.[12]
  • Thomas "Tom" Buchanan—a millionaire who lives in East Egg, and Daisy's husband. Tom is an imposing man of muscular build with a "husky tenor" voice and arrogant demeanor. He was a football star at Yale University. 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.[13]
  • Jordan Baker—An amateur golfer and Daisy Buchanan's long-time friend with a sarcastic streak and an aloof attitude. She is Nick Carraway's girlfriend for most of the novel, though they grow apart towards the end. She has a slightly shady reputation because of rumours that she had cheated in a tournament, which harmed her reputation socially and as a golfer. Fitzgerald told Maxwell Perkins that Jordan was based on the golfer Edith Cummings, a friend of Ginevra King, though Cummings was never suspected of cheating.[13] Her name is a play on the two popular automobile brands, the Jordan Motor Car Company and the Baker Motor Vehicle, alluding to Jordan's "fast" reputation and the new freedom presented to Americans, especially women, in the 1920s.[14][15][16]
  • George B. Wilson—a mechanic and owner of a garage. He is disliked by both his wife, Myrtle Wilson, and Tom Buchanan, who describes him as "so dumb he doesn't know he's alive." At the end of the novel, he kills Gatsby, wrongly believing that he had been driving the car that killed Myrtle, and then kills himself.
  • Myrtle Wilson—George's wife, and Tom Buchanan's mistress. Myrtle, who possesses a fierce vitality, is desperate to find refuge from her disappointing marriage. She is accidentally killed by Gatsby's car, as she thinks it is Tom still driving and runs after it (driven by Daisy, though Gatsby takes the blame for the accident).
  • Meyer Wolfsheim[note 1]—a Jewish friend and mentor of Gatsby's, described as a gambler who fixed the 1919 World Series. Wolfsheim appears only twice in the novel, the second time refusing to attend Gatsby's funeral. He is a clear allusion to Arnold Rothstein, a New York crime kingpin who was notoriously blamed for the Black Sox Scandal that tainted the 1919 World Series.[19]

Writing and productionEdit

The now-demolished Beacon Towers served as an inspiration for Gatsby's home.
Oheka Castle was another North Shore inspiration for the novel's setting.

Fitzgerald began planning his third novel in June 1922,[4] but it was interrupted by production of his play, The Vegetable, in the summer and fall.[20] The play failed miserably, and Fitzgerald worked that winter on magazine stories struggling to pay his debt caused by the production.[21][22] The stories were, in his words, "all trash and it nearly broke my heart,"[22] although included among those stories was "Winter Dreams," which Fitzgerald later described as "a sort of first draft of the Gatsby idea."[23]

After the birth of their only child, Frances Scott "Scottie" Fitzgerald, the Fitzgeralds moved to Great Neck, New York, on Long Island, in October 1922. The town was used as the scene of The Great Gatsby.[24] Fitzgerald's neighbors in Great Neck included such prominent and newly wealthy New Yorkers as writer Ring Lardner, actor Lew Fields, and comedian Ed Wynn.[4] These figures were all considered to be "new money," unlike those who came from Manhasset Neck or Cow Neck Peninsula—places that were home to many of New York's wealthiest established families, and which sat across the bay from Great Neck. This real-life juxtaposition gave Fitzgerald his idea for "West Egg" and "East Egg." In this novel, Great Neck (King's Point) became the "new money" peninsula of West Egg and Port Washington (Sands Point) the old-money East Egg.[25] Several mansions in the area served as inspiration for Gatsby's home, such as Oheka Castle[26] and Beacon Towers, since demolished.[27]

By mid-1923, Fitzgerald had written 18,000 words for his novel,[28] but discarded most of his new story as a false start. Some of it, however, resurfaced in the 1924 short story "Absolution."[4][29]

Work on The Great Gatsby began in earnest in April 1924. Fitzgerald wrote in his ledger, "Out of woods at last and starting novel."[22] He decided to make a departure from the writing process of his previous novels and told Perkins that the novel was to be a "consciously artistic achievement"[30] and a "purely creative work—not trashy imaginings as in my stories but the sustained imagination of a sincere and yet radiant world."[31] He added later, during editing, that he felt "an enormous power in me now, more than I've ever had."[32] Soon after this burst of inspiration, work slowed while the Fitzgeralds made a move to the French Riviera, where a serious crisis in their relationship soon developed.[22] By August, however, Fitzgerald was hard at work and completed what he believed to be his final manuscript in October, sending the book to his editor, Maxwell Perkins, and agent, Harold Ober, on October 30.[22] The Fitzgeralds then moved to Rome for the winter.[33] Fitzgerald made revisions through the winter after Perkins informed him in a November letter that the character of Gatsby was "somewhat vague" and Gatsby's wealth and business, respectively, needed "the suggestion of an explanation" and should be "adumbrated."[34]

Content after a few rounds of revision, Fitzgerald returned the final batch of revised galleys in the middle of February 1925.[35] Fitzgerald's revisions included an extensive rewriting of Chapter VI and VIII.[22] Despite this, he refused an offer of $10,000 for the serial rights in order not to delay the book's publication.[22] He had received a $3,939 advance in 1923[36] and $1,981.25 upon publication.[37]

Cover artEdit

The cover of the first printing of The Great Gatsby is among the most celebrated pieces of art in American literature.[38] It depicts disembodied eyes and a mouth over a blue skyline, with images of naked women reflected in the irises. A little-known artist named Francis Cugat was commissioned to illustrate the book while Fitzgerald was in the midst of writing it.[38] The cover was completed before the novel; Fitzgerald was so enamored with it that he told his publisher he had "written it into" the novel.[38] Fitzgerald's remarks about incorporating the painting into the novel led to the interpretation that the eyes are reminiscent of those of fictional optometrist Dr. T. J. Eckleburg[39] (depicted on a faded commercial billboard near George Wilson's auto repair shop), which Fitzgerald described as "blue and gigantic—their retinas[note 2] 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."[38] Ernest Hemingway wrote 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."[40]


Fitzgerald had difficulty choosing a title for his novel and entertained many choices before reluctantly choosing The Great Gatsby,[41] a title inspired by Alain-Fournier's Le Grand Meaulnes.[42] Previously he had shifted between Gatsby, Among Ash-Heaps and Millionaires, Trimalchio,[41] Trimalchio in West Egg,[43] On the Road to West Egg,[43] Under the Red, White, and Blue,[41] The Gold-Hatted Gatsby,[41][43] and The High-Bouncing Lover.[41][43] The titles The Gold-Hatted Gatsby and The High-Bouncing Lover came from Fitzgerald's epigraph for the novel, one which he wrote himself under the pen name of Thomas Parke D'Invilliers.[44] He initially preferred titles referencing Trimalchio, the crude parvenu in Petronius's Satyricon, and even refers to Gatsby as Trimalchio once in the novel: "It was when curiosity about Gatsby was at its highest that the lights in his house failed to go on one Saturday night—and, as obscurely as it had begun, his career as Trimalchio was over."[45] Unlike Gatsby's spectacular parties, Trimalchio participated in the audacious and libidinous orgies he hosted but, according to Tony Tanner's introduction to the Penguin edition, there are subtle similarities between the two.[46]

In November 1924, Fitzgerald wrote to Perkins that "I have now decided to stick to the title I put on the book ... Trimalchio in West Egg,"[47] but was eventually persuaded that the reference was too obscure and that people would not be able to pronounce it.[48] His wife, Zelda, and Perkins both expressed their preference for The Great Gatsby and the next month Fitzgerald agreed.[49] 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, 1925,[50] Fitzgerald expressed intense enthusiasm for the title Under the Red, White and Blue, but it was at that stage too late to change.[51][52] The Great Gatsby was published on April 10, 1925.[53] Fitzgerald remarked that "the title is only fair, rather bad than good."[54]

Early drafts of the novel have been published under the title Trimalchio: An Early Version of The Great Gatsby.[55][56] A notable difference between the Trimalchio draft and The Great Gatsby is a less complete failure of Gatsby's dream in Trimalchio. Another difference is that the argument between Tom Buchanan and Gatsby is more even,[57] although Daisy still returns to Tom.


Sarah Churchwell sees The Great Gatsby as a "cautionary tale of the decadent downside of the American dream."[58] The story deals with the limits and realities of America's ideals of social and class mobility, and the inevitably hopeless lower class aspirations to rise above the station(s) of their birth. The book in stark relief through the narrator, Nick Carraway, observes that: "... a sense of the fundamental decencies is parcelled out unequally at birth."[59] Using elements of irony and tragic ending, it also delves into themes of excesses of the rich and recklessness of youth.[60][61]

Journalist Nick Gillespie sees The Great Gatsby as a story of the underlying permanence of class differences, even "in the face of a modern economy based not on status and inherited position but on innovation and an ability to meet ever-changing consumer needs."[62] This interpretation asserts that The Great Gatsby captures the American experience because it is a story about change and those who resist it, whether the change comes in the form of a new wave of immigrants (Southern Europeans in the early 20th century, Latin Americans today), the nouveau riche, or successful minorities. Americans from the 1920s to the 21st century have plenty of experience with changing economic and social circumstances. As Gillespie states, "While the specific terms of the equation are always changing, it's easy to see echoes of Gatsby's basic conflict between established sources of economic and cultural power and upstarts in virtually all aspects of American society."[62] Because this can be seen throughout American history, readers are able to relate to The Great Gatsby, which has lent the novel an enduring popularity.[62]

Later critical writings on The Great Gatsby, following the novel's revival, focus in particular on Fitzgerald's disillusionment with the American Dream—life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness—in the context of the hedonistic Jazz Age, a name for the era which Fitzgerald said he had coined. In 1970, Roger Pearson published "Gatsby: False prophet of the American Dream," in which he states that Fitzgerald "has come to be associated with this concept of the AMERICAN Dream more than any other writer of the twentieth century."[63] Pearson goes on to suggest that Gatsby's failure to realize the American dream demonstrates that it no longer exists except in the minds of those as materialistic as Gatsby. He concludes that the American dream pursued by Gatsby "is, in reality, a nightmare," bringing nothing but discontent and disillusionment to those who chase it as they realize that it is unsustainable and ultimately unattainable.

In addition to exploring the trials and tribulations of achieving the great American dream during the Jazz Age, The Great Gatsby explores societal gender expectations as a theme, exemplifying in Daisy Buchanan's character the marginalization of women in the East Egg social class that Fitzgerald depicts. As an upper-class white woman living in East Egg during this time period, Daisy must adhere to certain societal expectations, including but certainly not limited to actively filling the role of dutiful wife, mother, keeper of the house, and charming socialite. As the reader finds in the novel, many of Daisy's choices, ultimately culminating in the tragedy of the plot and misery for all those involved, can be at least partly attributed to her prescribed role as a "beautiful little fool" who is completely reliant on her husband for financial and societal security. For instance, one could argue that Daisy's ultimate decision to remain with her husband despite her feelings for Gatsby can be attributed to the status, security, and comfort that her marriage to Tom Buchanan provides. Additionally, the theme of the female familial role within The Great Gatsby goes hand in hand with that of the ideal family unit associated with the great American dream—a dream that goes unrealized for Gatsby and Daisy in Fitzgerald's prose.[64]

21st-century criticism of Gatsby seeks to place the novel and its characters in historical context almost 100 years after its original publication, showing that Gatsby is still largely influential culturally and academically. For example, it has been argued that Jay Gatsby and The Great Gatsby can be viewed as the personification and representation of human-caused climate change, as "Gatsby’s life depends on many human-centered, selfish endeavors" which are "in some part responsible for Earth’s current ecological crisis."[65]


The green light that shines at the end of the dock of Daisy's house across the Sound from Gatsby's house is frequently mentioned in the background of the plot. It has variously been interpreted as a symbol of Gatsby's longing for Daisy and, more broadly, of the American dream.[66]


The Great Gatsby was published by Charles Scribner's Sons on April 10, 1925. Fitzgerald called Perkins on the day of publication to monitor reviews: "Any news?"[22] "Sales situation doubtful," read a wire from Perkins on April 20, "[but] excellent reviews." Fitzgerald responded on April 24, saying the cable "depressed" him, closing the letter with "Yours in great depression."[67] Fitzgerald had hoped the novel would be a great commercial success, perhaps selling as many as 75,000 copies.[67] By October, when the original sale had run its course, the book had sold fewer than 20,000 copies.[22][61][67] Despite this, Scribner's continually kept the book in print; they carried the original edition on their trade list until 1946, by which time Gatsby was in print in three other forms and the original edition was no longer needed.[22] Fitzgerald received letters of praise from contemporaries T. S. Eliot, Edith Wharton, and Willa Cather regarding the novel; however, this was private opinion, and Fitzgerald feverishly demanded the public recognition of reviewers and readers.[22]

The Great Gatsby received mixed reviews from literary critics of the day. Generally the most effusive of the positive reviews was Edwin Clark of The New York Times, who felt the novel was "A curious book, a mystical, glamourous [sic] story of today."[68] Similarly, Lillian C. Ford of the Los Angeles Times wrote, "[the novel] leaves the reader in a mood of chastened wonder," calling the book "a revelation of life" and "a work of art."[69] The New York Post called the book "fascinating ... His style fairly scintillates, and with a genuine brilliance; he writes surely and soundly."[70] The New York Herald Tribune was less impressed, referring to The Great Gatsby as "purely ephemeral phenomenon, but it contains some of the nicest little touches of contemporary observation you could imagine-so light, so delicate, so sharp ... a literary lemon meringue."[71] In The Chicago Daily Tribune, H. L. Mencken called the book "in form no more than a glorified anecdote, and not too probable at that," while praising the book's "careful and brilliant finish."[72]

Several writers felt that the novel left much to be desired following Fitzgerald's previous works and promptly criticized him. Harvey Eagleton of The Dallas Morning News believed the novel signaled the end of Fitzgerald's success: "One finishes Great Gatsby with a feeling of regret, not for the fate of the people in the book, but for Mr. Fitzgerald."[73] John McClure of The Times-Picayune said that the book was unconvincing, writing, "Even in conception and construction, The Great Gatsby seems a little raw."[74] Ralph Coghlan of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch felt the book lacked what made Fitzgerald's earlier novels endearing and called the book "a minor performance ... At the moment, its author seems a bit bored and tired and cynical."[75] Ruth Snyder of New York Evening World called the book's style "painfully forced," noting that the editors of the paper were "quite convinced after reading The Great Gatsby that Mr. Fitzgerald is not one of the great American writers of to-day."[76] The reviews struck Fitzgerald as completely missing the point: "All the reviews, even the most enthusiastic, not one had the slightest idea what the book was about."[22]

Fitzgerald's goal was to produce a literary work which would truly prove himself as a writer,[77] and Gatsby did not have the commercial success of his two previous novels, This Side of Paradise and The Beautiful and Damned. Although the novel went through two initial printings, some of these copies remained unsold years later.[78] Fitzgerald himself blamed poor sales on the fact that women tended to be the main audience for novels during this time, and Gatsby did not contain an admirable female character.[78] According to his own ledger, now made available online by University of South Carolina's Thomas Cooper library, he earned only $2,000 from the book.[79] Although 1926 brought Owen Davis' stage adaption and the Paramount-issued silent film version, both of which brought in money for the author, Fitzgerald still felt the novel fell short of the recognition he hoped for and, most importantly, would not propel him to becoming a serious novelist in the public eye.[22] For several years afterward, the general public believed The Great Gatsby to be nothing more than a nostalgic period piece.[22]


Like many of Fitzgerald's works, The Great Gatsby has been accused of displaying anti-Semitism through the use of Jewish stereotypes.[80] The book describes Meyer Wolfsheim as "a small, flat-nosed Jew," with "tiny eyes" and "two fine growths of hair" in his nostrils, while his nose is described as "expressive," "tragic," and able to "flash...indignantly."[81] A dishonest and corrupt profiteer who assisted Gatsby's bootlegging operations and spearheaded the Black Sox scandal, Wolfsheim has also been seen as representing the Jewish miser stereotype. Richard Levy, author of Antisemitism: A Historical Encyclopedia of Prejudice and Persecution, claims that Wolfsheim "pointedly connected Jewishness and crookedness."[81] In a 1947 article for Commentary, Milton Hindus, an assistant professor of humanities at the University of Chicago, stated that while believed the book was "excellent" on balance, Wolfsheim "is easily its most obnoxious character," and "the novel reads very much like an anti-Semitic document." Hindus argued that the Jewish stereotypes displayed by Wolfsheim was typical of the time period in which the novel was written and set, and that any anti-Semitism was of the "habitual, customary, 'harmless,' unpolitical variety."[81]

In the 2013 film adaptation of the book, director Baz Luhrmann admitted that the ethnic stereotypes were problematic for casting Wolfsheim's part. The role eventually went to Indian actor Amitabh Bachchan, but David Denby noted in The New Yorker that "the gangster's name remains Wolfsheim and Tom later refers to him as 'that kike.' "[81] A 2015 article by Arthur Krystal agreed with Hindus' assessment that Fitzgerald's use of Jewish caricatures was not driven by malice and merely reflected commonly-held beliefs of his time. He notes the accounts of Frances Kroll, a Jewish woman and secretary to Fitzgerald, who claimed that Fitzgerald was hurt by accusations of anti-Semitism and responded to critiques of Wolfsheim by claiming that he merely "fulfilled a function in the story and had nothing to do with race or religion."[80] This claim is further supported by evidence that Wolfsheim was based on real-life Jewish gambler Arnold Rothstein.[80]

Legacy and modern analysisEdit

In 1940, Fitzgerald suffered a third and fatal heart attack, and died believing his work forgotten.[82] His obituary in The New York Times mentioned Gatsby as Fitzgerald "at his best."[83] A strong appreciation for the book had developed in underground circles; future writers Edward Newhouse and Budd Schulberg were deeply affected by it and John O'Hara showed the book's influence.[84] The republication of Gatsby in Edmund Wilson's edition of The Last Tycoon in 1941 produced an outburst of comment, with the general consensus expressing the sentiment that the book was an enduring work of fiction.[22]

In 1942, a group of publishing executives created the Council on Books in Wartime. The Council's purpose was to distribute paperback books to soldiers fighting in the Second World War. The Great Gatsby was one of these books. The books proved to be "as popular as pin-up girls" among the soldiers, according to the Saturday Evening Post's contemporary report.[85] 155,000 copies of Gatsby were distributed to soldiers overseas.[86]

By 1944, full-length articles on Fitzgerald's works were being published, and the following year, "the opinion that Gatsby was merely a period piece had almost entirely disappeared."[22] This revival was paved by interest shown by literary critic Edmund Wilson, who was Fitzgerald's friend.[87] In 1951, Arthur Mizener published The Far Side of Paradise, a biography of Fitzgerald.[88] He emphasized The Great Gatsby's positive reception by literary critics, which may have influenced public opinion and renewed interest in it.[89]

By 1960, the book was steadily selling 50,000 copies per year, and renewed interest led by now The New York Times editorialist Mizener to proclaim the novel "a classic of twentieth-century American fiction."[22] The Great Gatsby has sold over 25 million copies worldwide as of 2013, annually sells an additional 500,000 copies, and is Scribner's most popular title; in 2013, the e-book alone sold 185,000 copies.[82]

Scribner's copyright will expire on January 1, 2021, when all works published in 1925 enter the public domain in the United States.


Cover of the first edition of Gatsby il magnifico, The Great Gatsby's Italian-language edition, as published by Mondadori in 1936.


Computer gamesEdit

Film and televisionEdit

The Great Gatsby has resulted in a number of film and television adaptations:


  • The Double Bind (2007) 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.[101]
  • Great (2014) by Sara Benincasa is a modern-day young adult fiction retelling of The Great Gatsby with a female Gatsby (Jacinta Trimalchio).[102]


The New York Metropolitan Opera commissioned John Harbison to compose an operatic treatment of the novel to commemorate the 25th anniversary of James Levine's debut. The work, called The Great Gatsby, premiered on December 20, 1999.[103]



See alsoEdit


  1. ^ The spelling "Wolfshiem" appears throughout Fitzgerald's original manuscript, while "Wolfsheim" was introduced by an editor (Edmund Wilson) in the second edition[17] and appears in later Scribner's editions.[18]
  2. ^ The original edition used the anatomically incorrect word "retinas," while some later editions have used the word "irises."


  1. ^ Karolides, Nicholas J.; Bald, Margaret; Sova, Dawn B. (2011). 120 Banned Books: Censorship Histories of World Literature (Second ed.). Checkmark Books. p. 499. ISBN 978-0-8160-8232-2. Rather than a celebration of such decadence, the novel functions as a cautionary tale in which an unhappy fate is inevitable for the poor and striving individual, and the rich are allowed to continue without penalty their careless treatment of others' lives.
  2. ^ Hoover, Bob (10 May 2013). "'The Great Gatsby' still challenges myth of American Dream". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 10 May 2013.
  3. ^ "Something Extraordinary". Letters of Note. Images by Gareth M. 25 March 2013. Retrieved 24 May 2013.CS1 maint: others (link)
  4. ^ a b c d Bruccoli 2000, pp. 53–54
  5. ^ Gross, Dalton (1998). Understanding the Great Gatsby: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. p. 167.
  6. ^ Kellogg, Carolyn. "Last gasp of the Gatsby house". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 26 April 2013.
  7. ^ a b c SparkNotes Editors. "The Great Gatsby: Context". SparkNotes. Retrieved 2013-11-25.CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  8. ^ Powers, Thomas (July 4, 2013). "The Road to West Egg". London Review of Books. 13. pp. 9–11.
  9. ^ Sarah Churchwell (June 17, 2014). "Murder, Mayhem, and the Invention of The Great Gatsby". The Leonard Lopate Show.
  10. ^ David Holowka (December 17, 2009). "The Iron Triangle, part 1 / Wilson's Garage". ArchiTakes.
  11. ^ Conor, Liz (22 June 2004). The Spectacular Modern Woman: Feminine Visibility in the 1920s. Indiana University Press. p. 301. ISBN 978-0-253-21670-0.
  12. ^ Borrelli, Christopher. "Revisiting Ginevra King, the Lake Forest woman who inspired 'Gatsby'". Retrieved 2018-10-21.
  13. ^ a b Bruccoli 2000, pp. 9–11
  14. ^ Fitzgerald, F. Scott (1991). Bruccoli, Matthew J. (ed.). The Great Gatsby. The Cambridge Edition of the Works of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press. p. 184. ISBN 9780521402309. This name combines two automobile makes: the sporty Jordan and the conservative Baker electric.
  15. ^ Fitzgerald, F. Scott (2006). Bloom, Harold (ed.). The Great Gatsby. New York: Chelsea House Publishers. p. 95. ISBN 9781438114545.
  16. ^ Fitzgerald, F. Scott (1997). Tredell, Nicolas (ed.). F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Great Gatsby. Columbia Critical Guides. New York: Columbia University Press. p. 184. ISBN 9780231115353. ISSN 1559-3002.
  17. ^ F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Great Gatsby. Cambridge University Press. 1991. p. liv. ISBN 9780521402309.
  18. ^ F. Scott Fitzgerald: The Great Gatsby. Cambridge University Press. 1991. p. 148. ISBN 9780521525053.
  19. ^ Bruccoli 2000, p. 29
  20. ^ Mizener, Arthur (24 April 1960). "Gatsby, 35 Years Later". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 July 2013. He had begun to plan the novel in June, 1923, saying to Maxwell Perkins, 'I want to write something new – something extraordinary and beautiful and simple and intricately patterned.' But that summer and fall was devoted to the production of his play, 'The Vegetable.'
  21. ^ Curnutt, Kirk (2004). A Historical Guide to F. Scott Fitzgerald. Oxford University Press. p. 58. ISBN 978-0195153033. Retrieved 11 October 2013. The failure of The Vegetable in the fall of 1923 caused Fitzgerald, who was by then in considerable debt, to shut himself in a stuffy room over a garage in Great Neck, New York, and write himself out of the red by turning out ten short stories for the magazine market.
  22. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Mizener, Arthur (24 April 1960). "Gatsby, 35 Years Later". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 May 2013.
  23. ^ Fitzgerald, F. Scott (1963). Turnbull, Andrew (ed.). The Letters of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Charles Scribner's Sons. p. 189. 3. 'Winter Dreams' (a sort of first draft of the Gatsby idea from Metropolitan 1923)
  24. ^ Murphy, Mary Jo (30 September 2010). "Eyeing the Unreal Estate of Gatsby Esq". The New York Times.
  25. ^ Bruccoli 2000, pp. 38–39
  26. ^ Bruccoli 2000, p. 45
  27. ^ Randall, Mónica (2003). The Mansions of Long Island's Gold Coast. Rizzoli. pp. 275–277. ISBN 978-0-8478-2649-0.
  28. ^ West, James L. W., III (2000). Trimalchio: An Early Version of The Great Gatsby. The Cambridge Edition of the Works of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Cover Design by Dennis M. Arnold. Cambridge University Press. p. xi. ISBN 978-0-521-89047-2. Retrieved 27 July 2013. He produces 18,000 words; most of this material is later discarded, but he salvages the short story "Absolution," published in June 1924.
  29. ^ Haglund, David (7 May 2013). "The Forgotten Childhood of Jay Gatsby". Slate.
  30. ^ Eble, Kenneth (Winter 1974). "The Great Gatsby". College Literature. 1 (1): 37. ISSN 0093-3139. JSTOR 25111007. consciously artistic achievement
  31. ^ Flanagan, Thomas (21 December 2000). "Fitzgerald's 'Radiant World'". The New York Review of Books. Retrieved 24 May 2013. He may have been remembering Fitzgerald's words in that April letter: So in my new novel I'm thrown directly on purely creative work—not trashy imaginings as in my stories but the sustained imagination of a sincere yet radiant world.
  32. ^ Leader, Zachary (21 September 2000). "Daisy packs her bags". London Review of Books. 22 (18): 13–15. ISSN 0260-9592. Retrieved 24 February 2013.
  33. ^ Tate, Mary Jo (2007). Critical Companion to F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Literary Reference to His Life and Work. Infobase Publishing. p. 326. ISBN 9781438108452. They lived in ROME from October 1924 to February 1925...
  34. ^ Perkins, Maxwell Evarts (2004). Bruccoli, Matthew Joseph; Baughman, Judith S. (eds.). The Sons of Maxwell Perkins: Letters of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Thomas Wolfe, and Their Editor. Univ. of South Carolina Press. pp. 27–30. ISBN 9781570035487.
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  39. ^ Scribner, Charles, III (Winter 1992). "Celestial Eyes: From Metamorphosis to Masterpiece" (PDF). Princeton University Library Chronicle. 53 (2): 140–155. Retrieved 27 July 2013. We are left then with the enticing possibility that Fitzgerald's arresting image was originally prompted by Cugat's fantastic apparitions over the valley of ashes; in other words, that the author derived his inventive metamorphosis from a recurrent theme of Cugat's trial jackets, one which the artist himself was to reinterpret and transform through subsequent drafts. (originally published as a brochure on 24 October 1991 to celebrate the Cambridge Edition of The Great Gatsby)
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  41. ^ a b c d e Anderson, Kurt (25 November 2010). "American Icons: The Great Gatsby". Studio 360. 14:26. Archived from the original on 13 October 2013. Retrieved 22 May 2013. [Donald Skemer (introduced 12:59) speaking] He went through many many titles, uh, including Under the Red, White, and Blue and Trimalchio and Gold-hatted Gatsby ... [James West (introduced at 12:11) speaking] The High Bouncing Lover. And, uh, he in the end didn't think that The Great Gatsby was a very good title, was dissatisfied with it.
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  43. ^ a b c d Vanderbilt, Arthur T. (1999). The Making of a Bestseller: From Author to Reader. McFarland. p. 96. ISBN 978-0786406630. A week later, in his next letter, he was floundering: 'I have not decided to stick to the title I put on the book, Trimalchio in West Egg. The only other titles that seem to fit it are Trimalchio and On the Road to West Egg. I had two others, Gold-hatted Gatsby and The High-bouncing Lover, but they seemed too slight.'
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  46. ^ Tanner's introduction to the Penguin edition (2000), p. vii–viii.
  47. ^ Hill, W. Speed; Burns, Edward M.; Shillingsburg, Peter L. (2002). Text: An Interdisciplinary Annual of Textual Studies. 14. University of Michigan Press. ISBN 978-0472112722. ..., because in early November he wrote Perkins that "I have now decided to stick to the title I put on the book. Trimalchio in West Egg.
  48. ^ Fitzgerald, Francis Scott; Perkins, Maxwell (1971). Kuehl, John; Bryer, Jackson R. (eds.). Dear Scott/Dear Max: the Fitzgerald-Perkins correspondence. Macmillan Publishing Company. p. 87. When Ring Lardner came in the other day I told him about your novel and he instantly balked at the title. 'No one could pronounce it,' he said; so probably your change is wise on other than typographical counts.
  49. ^ Bruccoli 2002, pp. 206–07
  50. ^ Tate, Mary Jo (2007). Critical Companion to F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Literary Reference to His Life and Work. Infobase Publishing. p. 87. ISBN 9781438108452. He settled on The Great Gatsby in December 1924, but in January and March 1925 he continued to express his concern to Perkins about the title, cabling from CAPRI on March 19: CRAZY ABOUT TITLE UNDER THE RED WHITE AND BLUE STOP WHART [sic] WOULD DELAY BE
  51. ^ Lipton, Gabrielle. "Where Is Jay Gatsby's Mansion?". The Slate Group, a Division of the Washington Post Company. Retrieved 6 May 2013. However, nearing the time of publication, Fitzgerald, who despised the title The Great Gatsby and toiled for months to think of something else, wrote to Perkins that he had finally found one: Under the Red, White, and Blue. Unfortunately, it was too late to change.
  52. ^ Churchwell, Sarah (3 May 2013). "What makes The Great Gatsby great?". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 October 2013. At the last minute, he had asked his editor if they could change the new novel's title to Under the Red, White and Blue, but it was too late.
  53. ^ Lazo, Caroline Evensen (2003). F. Scott Fitzgerald: Voice of the Jazz Age. Twenty-First Century Books. p. 75. ISBN 978-0822500742. When the book was published on April 10, 1925, the critics raved.
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  55. ^ West, James L. W., III (2000). Trimalchio: An Early Version of The Great Gatsby. The Cambridge Edition of the Works of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Cover Design by Dennis M. Arnold. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-89047-2. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
  56. ^ West, James L. W., III (10 April 2013). "What Baz Luhrmann Asked Me About The Great Gatsby". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 27 July 2013. Luhrmann was also interested in Trimalchio, the early version of The Great Gatsby that I published in 2000 as a volume in the Cambridge Edition.
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Further readingEdit

  • McCullen, Bonnie Shannon (2007). "This Tremendous Detail: The Oxford Stone in the House of Gatsby". In Assadi, Jamal; Freedman, William (eds.). A Distant Drummer: Foreign Perspectives on F. Scott Fitzgerald. New York: Peter Lang. pp. 11–20. ISBN 978-0820488516.

External linksEdit