The Great Gatsby is Published
It seems to me, though, that no American novel comes closer than "Gatsby" to surpassing literary artistry, and none tells us more about ourselves.
In an extraordinarily compressed space -- the novel is barely 50,000 words long -- Fitzgerald gives us a meditation on some of this country's most central ideas, themes, yearnings and preoccupations: the quest for a new life, the preoccupation with class, the hunger for riches and "the last and greatest of all human dreams; for a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an aesthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder."
The Great Gatsby is a novel by the American author F. Scott Fitzgerald. First published on April 10, 1925, it is set on Long Island's North Shore and in New York City during the summer of 1922 and is a critique of the American Dream. It is considered one of the greatest novels of the 20th century.
The novel chronicles the anomie following the First World War. American society enjoyed unprecedented levels of 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 and led to an increase in organized crime. Although Fitzgerald, like Nick Carraway in his novel, idolized the riches and glamor of the age, he was uncomfortable with the unrestrained materialism and the lack of morality that went with it, a kind of decadence.
Although it was adapted into both a Broadway play and a Hollywood film within a year of publication, it was not popular upon initial printing, selling fewer than 25,000 copies during the remaining fifteen years of Fitzgerald's life. It was largely forgotten during the Great Depression and the Second World War. 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 Great Gatsby has become a standard text in high school and university courses on American literature in countries around the world, and is ranked second in the Modern Library's lists of the 100 Best Novels of the 20th Century.
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”— F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Great Gatsby: A Research Guide for Students
F. Scott Fitzgerald Centenary Homepage