Cover of the first edition in 1925
|Author||F. Scott Fitzgerald|
|Cover artist||Francis Cugat|
|Published||April 10, 1925 (US)|
February 10, 1926 (UK)
|Publisher||Charles Scribner's Sons (US)|
Chatto & Windus (UK)
|Media type||Print (hardcover & paperback)|
|Pages||218 (Original US Edition)|
|Preceded by||The Beautiful and Damned (1922)|
|Followed by||Tender Is the Night (1934)|
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[a] tale regarding the American Dream.
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." 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 of the "Great American Novel."
Set on the prosperous Long Island of 1922, The Great Gatsby provides a critical social history of Prohibition-era America during the Jazz Age.[b] That period--known for its jazz music, economic prosperity,flapper culture, libertine mores, rebellious youth, and ubiquitous speakeasies--is fully rendered in Fitzgerald's fictional narrative. Fitzgerald uses many of these 1920s societal developments to tell his story, from simple details such as petting in automobiles to broader themes such as Fitzgerald's discreet allusions to bootlegging as the source of Gatsby's fortune.
Fitzgerald educates his readers about the hedonistic society of the Roaring Twenties by placing a relatable plotline within the historical context of "the most raucous, gaudy era in U.S. history," which "raced along under its own power, served by great filling stations full of money." In many ways, The Great Gatsby represents Fitzgerald's attempt to confront his conflicted feelings about the Jazz Age, an era whose themes he would later regard as reflective of events in his own life.
Many events in Fitzgerald's life are reflected throughout The Great Gatsby. Fitzgerald was a young Midwesterner from Minnesota, and, like the novel's narrator who went to Yale, he was educated at an Ivy League school, Princeton. While at Princeton, the 19-year-old Fitzgerald met Ginevra King, a 16-year-old socialite with whom he fell in love. However, Ginevra's family discouraged Fitzgerald's pursuit of their daughter due to his lower-class status, and her father purportedly told the young Fitzgerald that "poor boys shouldn't think of marrying rich girls."
Rejected as a suitor due to his lack of financial prospects, Fitzgerald joined the military and became a second lieutenant. He was stationed at Camp Sheridan in Montgomery, Alabama where he met Zelda Sayre, a vivacious 17-year-old Southern beauty. Zelda agreed to marry him but her parents delayed their wedding until he could prove a financial success. Thus Fitzgerald is similar to Jay Gatsby in that he fell in love while stationed far from home in the military and then sought success to prove himself to the woman he loved.
After his success as a novelist and as a short story writer, Fitzgerald married Zelda and moved to New York. He found his new affluent lifestyle in the exclusive Long Island social milieu to be seductive and exciting. Much like Gatsby, Fitzgerald had always idolized the rich and was driven by his love for a woman who symbolized everything he wanted, even as he was led towards a lifestyle which he despised.
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In Spring 1922, Nick Carraway--a Yale alumnus from the Midwest and a veteran of the Great War--journeys east to New York City to learn finance and to obtain employment as a bond salesman. He rents a summer bungalow in the village of West Egg on Long Island. Next door is a luxurious estate inhabited by an enigmatic multi-millionaire called Jay Gatsby who hosts dazzling soirées yet does not partake in them.
On a summer evening, Nick motors to the more fashionable town of East Egg to dine with his second cousin once removed, Daisy Buchanan. She is married to the supercilious Tom Buchanan, formerly a Yale football star whom Nick knew during his college days. The couple--who recently relocated to Long Island from Chicago--reside in a colonial mansion directly across the bay from Gatsby's estate. At their mansion, Nick encounters Jordan Baker, an insolent flapper and golf champion who is a childhood friend of Daisy's from Louisville. Jordan confides to Nick that Tom keeps a mistress, Myrtle Wilson, who brazenly telephones him at his home and who lives in the "valley of ashes," a sprawling refuse dump. That evening, Nick returns to his bungalow where he glimpses his secretive neighbor, Gatsby, standing alone on the darkened lawn of his estate and staring at a green light across the bay.
Days later, Nick reluctantly accompanies a drunken and agitated Tom to New York City by train. En-route, they stop at a garage inhabited by mechanic George Wilson and his wife Myrtle. After their departure, Myrtle later joins them, and the trio proceed to a small New York apartment that Tom has rented for trysts with Myrtle. Other guests are invited to Tom's apartment, and a party ensues which ends near midnight with Tom angrily slapping Myrtle and breaking her nose after she says Daisy's name several times. Nick departs and sleeps on a bench at Pennsylvania Station.
One morning, a uniformed chauffeur visits Nick's bungalow and delivers a formal invitation to visit Gatsby's mansion that evening. At the mansion, Nick joins the revelry but is embarrassed that he recognizes no one. He begins imbibing heavily until he meets Jordan Baker. While chatting with Jordan, he is approached by a charismatic figure who reveals himself to be Jay Gatsby and who insists that both he and Nick served in the 3rd Infantry Division during the war. Gatsby attempts to ingratiate himself to Nick and, when Nick leaves the party, he notices Gatsby watching him from the mansion's veranda.
In late July, Nick and Gatsby have lunch at a speakeasy. Gatsby regales him with tales of his war heroism and his Oxford days in order to make a favorable impression. Afterwards, Nick meets Jordan at the Plaza Hotel. She reveals that Gatsby and Daisy had met circa 1917 when Gatsby was an officer in the American Expeditionary Forces stationed in Louisville. They fell in love but, when Gatsby was deployed overseas, Daisy had reluctantly married Tom instead. Gatsby now hopes that his dazzling parties and newfound wealth will make Daisy reconsider him as a suitor. Gatsby uses Nick to stage a reunion with Daisy, and she is lured to Nick's bungalow for tea where Gatsby secretly awaits her. Reunited, Daisy and Gatsby embark upon a sexual affair.
In September, Tom discerns their affair when Daisy carelessly addresses Gatsby with unabashed intimacy in front of him. Later, in a Plaza Hotel suite, an argument ensues between Gatsby and Tom. Gatsby insists that Daisy declare that she never loved Tom, but she refuses to do so. Tom reveals to Gatsby that he and Daisy share a deeper relationship of which Gatsby is ignorant. Tom then discloses that Gatsby is a swindler and bootlegger whose fortune comes from selling grain alcohol. Upon hearing this revelation, Daisy chooses to stay with Tom. With magnanimous scorn, Tom suggests that Gatsby drive her back to East Egg, knowing that Daisy will never leave him.
-- F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
While returning to East Egg, Gatsby's yellow station wagon passes by Wilson's garage and strikes Tom's mistress, Myrtle, killing her instantly. Gatsby tells Nick that Daisy was driving the car, and Nick urges Gatsby to flee to avoid prosecution but he refuses. Meanwhile, George--distraught with grief--assumes the owner of the yellow vehicle was Myrtle's paramour. Learning that the vehicle's owner is Gatsby, George fatally shoots Gatsby in his mansion's swimming pool and then commits suicide.
Several days after Gatsby's murder, his father Henry Gatz arrives from Minnesota for his son's funeral which is attended by only himself, Nick, and one of Gatsby's former guests. With Gatsby's passing, Nick now despises New York and believes that Gatsby, Daisy, Tom, and he were all Westerners unsuited to Eastern life. Nick encounters Tom on Fifth Avenue and balks at shaking his hand. Tom admits that he was the one who told George that Gatsby owned the vehicle which killed Myrtle. Before returning to the Midwest, Nick returns to Gatsby's mansion one last time and stares across the bay at the green light emanating from the end of Daisy's dock.
Fitzgerald began planning his third novel in June 1922, but it was interrupted by production of his play, The Vegetable, in the summer and fall. The play failed miserably, and Fitzgerald worked that winter on magazine stories struggling to pay his debt caused by the production. The stories were, in his words, "all trash and it nearly broke my heart," although included among those stories was "Winter Dreams," which Fitzgerald later described as "a sort of first draft of the Gatsby idea."
After the birth of their only child, Frances Scott "Scottie" Fitzgerald, the Fitzgeralds moved in October 1922 to Great Neck, New York, on Long Island. The town was used as the scene of The Great Gatsby. 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. 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 (Kings Point) became the "new money" peninsula of West Egg and Port Washington (Sands Point) became the "old money" East Egg. Several mansions in the area served as inspiration for Gatsby's home, such as Oheka Castle and Beacon Towers, since demolished. (Another possible inspiration was Land's End, a notable Gold Coast Mansion where Fitzgerald may have attended a party.)
While the Fitzgeralds were living in New York, the Hall-Mills murder case was sensationalized in the daily newspapers over the course of many months, and the highly publicized case likely influenced the plot of Fitzgerald's novel. The case involved the double-murder of a man and his lover which occurred on September 14, 1922, mere weeks before Fitzgerald and his wife arrived in Great Neck. Scholars have speculated that Fitzgerald based certain aspects of the ending of The Great Gatsby as well as various characterizations on this factual incident.
By mid-1923, Fitzgerald had written 18,000 words for his novel, but discarded most of his new story as a false start. Some of it, however, resurfaced in the 1924 short story "Absolution." Work on The Great Gatsby began in earnest in April 1924. Fitzgerald wrote in his ledger, "Out of woods at last and starting novel." 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" and a "purely creative work--not trashy imaginings as in my stories but the sustained imagination of a sincere and yet radiant world." Soon after this burst of inspiration, work slowed while the Fitzgeralds made a move to the French Riviera, where a serious crisis[d] in their relationship soon developed.
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. The Fitzgeralds then moved to Rome for the winter. 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." Fitzgerald thanked Perkins for his detailed criticisms and stated, "With the aid you've given me I can make Gatsby perfect."
Content after a few rounds of revision, Fitzgerald returned the final batch of revised galleys in the middle of February 1925. Fitzgerald's revisions included an extensive rewriting of Chapter VI and VIII. Despite this, he refused an offer of $10,000 for the serial rights in order not to delay the book's publication. He had received a $3,939 advance in 1923 and $1,981.25 upon publication.
|"||Unlike Gatsby and Tom Buchanan, I had no girl whose disembodied face floated along the dark cornices and blinding signs...||"|
The cover of the first printing of The Great Gatsby is among the most celebrated pieces of art in American literature. 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.
The cover was completed before the novel, and Fitzgerald was so enamored with 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 fictional optometrist Dr. T. J. Eckleburg, depicted on a faded commercial billboard near George Wilson's auto repair shop, which Fitzgerald described as:
blue and gigantic--their retinas[e] 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." Years later, 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."
Fitzgerald had difficulty choosing a title for his novel and entertained many choices before reluctantly choosing The Great Gatsby, a title inspired by Alain-Fournier's Le Grand Meaulnes. Previously he had shifted between Gatsby, Among Ash-Heaps and Millionaires, Trimalchio,Trimalchio in West Egg,On the Road to West Egg,Under the Red, White, and Blue,The Gold-Hatted Gatsby, and The High-Bouncing Lover. 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. 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."
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.
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," but was eventually persuaded that the reference was too obscure and that people would not be able to pronounce it. His wife, Zelda, 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, 1925, Fitzgerald expressed intense enthusiasm for the title 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."
Early drafts of the novel have been published under the title Trimalchio: An Early Version of The Great Gatsby. 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, although Daisy still returns to Tom.
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?" "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." Fitzgerald had hoped the novel would be a great commercial success, perhaps selling as many as 75,000 copies. By October, when the original sale had run its course, the book had sold fewer than 20,000 copies. 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. 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 sought the public recognition of reviewers and readers.
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 story of today." 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."The New York Post called the book "fascinating ... His style fairly scintillates, and with a genuine brilliance; he writes surely and soundly." 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." 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 "charm and beauty of the writing" and the "careful and brilliant finish."
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." 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." 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." 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." 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."
Fitzgerald's goal was to produce a literary work which would truly prove himself as a writer, 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. 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. 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. 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. For several years afterward, the general public believed The Great Gatsby to be nothing more than a nostalgic period piece. By the time Fitzgerald died in 1940, the novel had fallen into near obscurity.
In 1940, Fitzgerald suffered a third and fatal heart attack, and died believing his work forgotten. His obituary in The New York Times mentioned Gatsby as Fitzgerald "at his best." A strong appreciation for the book gradually developed in underground circles. Future writers Edward Newhouse and Budd Schulberg were deeply affected by it, and author John O'Hara acknowledged its influence. 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.
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 Posts contemporary report. 155,000 copies of Gatsby were distributed to soldiers overseas.
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." This revival was paved by interest shown by literary critic Edmund Wilson, who was Fitzgerald's friend. In 1951, Arthur Mizener published The Far Side of Paradise, a biography of Fitzgerald. He emphasized The Great Gatsbys positive reception by literary critics, which may have influenced public opinion and renewed interest in it.
By 1960, the book was steadily selling 50,000 copies per year, and renewed interest led The New York Times editorialist Mizener to proclaim the novel "a classic of twentieth-century American fiction."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.
Following the novel's revival, later critical writings on The Great Gatsby focus in particular on Fitzgerald's disillusionment with the American dream[a] in the context of the hedonistic Jazz Age,[b] a name for the era which Fitzgerald claimed to have coined. In 1970, scholar Roger L. Pearson published an essay in which he asserted that Fitzgerald "has come to be associated with this concept of the American dream more than any other writer of the twentieth century." Pearson traced the literary origins of this particular dream to Colonial America:
"The American dream, or myth, is an ever recurring theme in American literature, dating back to some of the earliest colonial writings. Briefly defined, it is the belief that every man, whatever his origins, may pursue and attain his chosen goals, be they political, monetary, or social. It is the literary expression of the concept of America: The land of opportunity."
However, Pearson noted that "Fitzgerald's unique expression of the American dream lacks the optimism, the sense of fulfillment, so evident in the expressions of his predecessors." He posited that Fitzgerald created the character of Gatsby to serve as a false prophet of the American dream and to demonstrate how that dream no longer exists except in the minds of those as materialistic as Gatsby. Pearson concluded 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.
Echoing Pearson's interpretation, scholar Sarah Churchwell similarly views The Great Gatsby to be a "cautionary tale of the decadent downside of the American dream." Churchwell posits the story concerns the limits of America's ideals of social and class mobility, and the hopelessness of lower-class aspirants to transcend the stations of their birth. This is illustrated through the novel's narrator, Nick Carraway, who observes that "a sense of the fundamental decencies is parcelled out unequally at birth." Churchwell posits that Fitzgerald's novel is "a story of class warfare in a nation that denies it even has a class system, in which the game is eternally rigged for the rich to win."
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.
In addition to exploring the trials and tribulations of achieving the American dream during the Jazz Age, The Great Gatsby explores societal gender expectations as a theme. Although early scholars viewed the character of Daisy Buchanan to be a "monster of bitchery," later scholars such as Leland S. Person, Jr. asserted that Daisy's character exemplifies the marginalization of women in the East Egg social milieu that Fitzgerald depicts. Writing in 1978, Person noted that:
"Daisy, in fact, is more victim than victimizer: She is victim first of Tom Buchanan's 'cruel' power, but then of Gatsby's increasingly depersonalized vision of her. She becomes the unwitting 'grail' in Gatsby's adolescent quest to remain ever-faithful to his seventeen-year-old conception of self."
Daisy is thus "reduced to a golden statue, a collector's item which crowns Gatsby's material success." As an upper-class white woman living in East Egg during this time period, Daisy must adhere to societal expectations and gender norms such as actively fulfilling the roles of dutiful wife, mother, keeper of the house, and charming socialite. Many of Daisy's choices--ultimately culminating in the tragedy of the ending and misery for all those involved--can be partly attributed to her prescribed role as a "beautiful little fool"[f] who is reliant on her husband for financial and societal security. Her decision to remain with her husband despite her feelings for Gatsby is thus attributable to the status, security, and comfort that her marriage to Tom Buchanan provides.
Journalist Nick Gillespie interprets 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." 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 or the nouveau riche or successful minorities. Americans living in the 1920s to the present are thus defined by their fluctuating economic and social circumstances. As Gillespie states, "While the specific terms of the equation are always changing, it's easy to see echoes of Gatsbys basic conflict between established sources of economic and cultural power and upstarts in virtually all aspects of American society." Because this can be seen throughout American history, readers are able to relate to The Great Gatsby, which has contributed to the novel's enduring popularity.
Postmodern 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, as "Gatsby's life depends on many human-centered, selfish endeavors" which are "in some part responsible for Earth's current ecological crisis."
Like many of Fitzgerald's works, The Great Gatsby has been accused of displaying anti-Semitism through the use of Jewish stereotypes. The book describes Meyer Wolfsheim[c] 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." 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 is "pointedly connected Jewishness and crookedness."
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 were 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."
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." This claim is further supported by evidence that Wolfsheim was based on real-life Jewish gambler Arnold Rothstein.
The Great Gatsby has resulted in a number of film and television adaptations: