The Great Gatsby
Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald
Pages: 208 pages
Publisher: Charles Scribner's Sons (US) Chatto & Windus (UK)
Publication Date: April 10, 1925 (US) February 10, 1926 (UK)
The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s third book, stands as the supreme achievement of his career. First published in 1925, this quintessential novel of the Jazz Age has been acclaimed by generations of readers.
The story of the mysteriously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, of lavish parties on Long Island at a time when The New York Times noted “gin was the national drink and sex the national obsession,” it is an exquisitely crafted tale of America in the 1920s.
On the surface, The Great Gatsby is a story of the thwarted love between a man and a woman. The main theme of the novel, however, encompasses a much larger, less romantic scope. Though all of its action takes place over a mere few months during the summer of 1922 and is set in a circumscribed geographical area in the vicinity of Long Island, New York, The Great Gatsby is a highly symbolic meditation on 1920s America as a whole.
Fitzgerald portrays the 1920s as an era of decayed social and moral values, evidenced in its greed, and empty sense of pleasure.
Fitzgerald places his characters as the symbols of these social trends. Nick and Gatsby, both of whom fought in World War I, exhibit the cosmopolitanism and cynicism that resulted from the war. The various social climbers and ambitious speculators who attend Gatsby’s parties shows the greedy scramble for wealth.
The American dream was originally about discovery, individualism, and the pursuit of happiness. In the 1920s depicted in the novel, however, easy money and relaxed social values have corrupted this dream, especially on the East Coast. The main plotline of the novel reflects this assessment, as Gatsby’s dream of loving Daisy is ruined by the difference in their respective social status.
One of the major topics explored in The Great Gatsby is the sociology of wealth, specifically, how the newly minted millionaires of the 1920s differ from and relate to the old aristocracy of the country’s richest families.
Environmental criticism of Gatsby seeks to place the novel and its characters in historical context almost a century after its original publication. These interpretations argue that Jay Gatsby and The Great Gatsby can be viewed as the personification and representation of human-caused climate change.
- The Great Gatsby (1926), directed by Herbert Brennon
- The Great Gatsby (1949), directed by Elliott Nugent
- The Great Gatsby (1974), directed by Jack Clayton
- The Great Gatsby (2013), directed by Baz Luhrmann
Milestones of the book:
- The book was nominated as one of America’s best-loved novels by PBS’s The Great American Read.
About the Author:
F. Scott Fitzgerald was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1896. He attended Princeton University, joined the United States Army during World War I, and published his first novel, This Side of Paradise, in 1920. That same year he married Zelda Sayre and for the next decade the couple lived in New York, Paris, and on the Riviera. Fitzgerald’s novels include The Beautiful and Damned, The Great Gatsby, and Tender Is the Night. He died at the age of forty-four while working on The Last Tycoon. Fitzgerald’s fiction has secured his reputation as one of the most important American writers of the 20th century.