88 years ago today, 10th April, The Great Gatsby was first published. It took Fitzgerald nearly 3 years to write and finish the novel. He was never happy with the title asked many times for it to be changed. His title changes were rejected because they were too obscure, and later because the printing process had already started.
One of the titles he suggested was Gold Hatted Gatsby. I like this title but I prefer The Great Gatsby. I’d wanted to read this book for quite a while and thought it was about a magician. (In some ways I was right, but when I tell people that, most disagree.) I first read it in my first year at A-Level. We were told to read the first chapter and no more for the first session because the teacher wanted us to discuss our thoughts on Gatsby without any of his back story or a real introduction.
It’s one of the only books that I picked up and really couldn’t put it down. I finished the first chapter and phoned a friend. They hadn’t even started it. I wanted to talk to someone about it, but couldn’t so I carried on reading. I can’t remember exactly but I think I was on about chapter 4 out of 9 by the next morning. The green light, the mystery of Gatsby, the image of the valley of ashes. Little bits of genius on near enough every page.
When it was first published, despite critical acclaim, the novel didn’t sell well. 15 years later when Fitzgerald died the New York Times described Gatsby as a novel that showed potential. A lot of the early prints remained unsold and in 1945 they were sent to troops in WW2. It took nearly 20 years for Gatsby’s reputation to grow and he finally gained recognition.
I’ve read the book a few times now and it stands out as on of my favourites, along with Dracula, The Bell Jar and The Hobbit. I’m looking for a 5th book to add to the list, I feel like there should be a 5th one. Each of these books truly captivated me, and are the only ones that I can honestly say kept me reading until I’d finished. Some have come close, but none quite like these. The Great Gatsby is as relevant now as ever. A criticism of capitalism, the upper classes neglect of the poor and the search for a return to the past. Ultimately the book is about the desire of hope, love and happiness.
Fitzgerald truly created a book that will continue to inspire and captivate audiences for a long time.
“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
Thanks for reading,