The Great Gatsby is considered the great American novel. Fitzgerald’s beautiful poetic prose mixed with unlikeable characters puts an exposing light on a romanticized part of American history. Although regarded as one of highest points of American literature, there are still many facts not known to the general public. Did you know these nine facts about The Great Gatsby?
1. Fitzgerald’s third novel was not highly praised during his lifetime.
Many considered the classic worse than his first three novels; Fitzgerald only grossed $4000 from it by the time he passed away. It’s a character-driven novel filled with horrible characters, particularly the female ones. This was bad news for Fitzgerald as women drove the literature market causing the novel to flop on it’s release.
2. The novel was only popular after Fitzgerald’s death.
The novel started to become recognized after Edmund Wilson included it with Fitzgerald’s posthumously published The Last Tycoon. This inspired people to read the book and it soon became a cult classic, specifically during World War 2, when it finally became a mainstream success. More books were pressed and sent to soldiers fighting in the war then the total amount published during Fitzgerald’s life.
3. Fitzgerald changed the book to fit the cover.
Fitzgerald loved the book cover so much that he made the billboard with the two female eyes more prominent in the story, perhaps even not even creating the haunting image until after he saw the cover art.
4. The poet that opens the novel is not a real person.
Poet Thomas Parke D’Invilliers is a character from Fitzgerald’s In This Side of Paradise.
5. It was almost published under a different name
Fitzgerald considered MANY different names before coming to the amazing The Great Gatsby: Among Ash Heaps and Millionaires; Trimalchio; Trimalchio in West Egg; On the Road to West Egg; Under the Red, White, and Blue; Gold-Hatted Gatsby; and The High-Bouncing Lover.
6. The Sun Also Rises shares a publisher!
Max Perkins, who published the novel, also published Fitzgerald’s close friend, Ernest Hemingway’s novel The Sun Also Rises. Perkins was a critic and publisher, who was close to two American literary giants, which Hemingway solidified by dedicating his famous novel The Old Man and the Sea to the publisher.
7. Meyer Wolfshiem was based on an actual person
Bootlegger Meyer Wolfshiem is a reference to real-life Arnold Rothstein. Rothstein is responsible for the 1919 World Series Scandal, where multiple members of Chicago White Sox threw the game because of bets they had made before the game. This allusion is made clear when someone remarks that Wolfshiem helped fix the World Series.
8. Jay Gatsby was also partially inspired by someone Fitzgerald knew
Fitzgerald took the inspiration for part of Jay Gatsby from his bootlegger friend Max Gerlach. When Fitzgerald scholar rummaged through some of the writer’s things he found a letter from the bootlegger with “here for a few days — how are you and the family old Sport? – Gerlach,” written next to a picture of Fitzgerald with his family.
9. Zelda hated the film adaptation
Six directors have attempted to adapt the novel onto the big screen, and even though most were flops, they did not have to suffer from hearing that their film sucked directly from his partner’s mouth. Zelda Fitzgerald hated the 1926 film adaption claiming that she walked out and writing to her daughter Scottie that she found it rotten and awful.
Image courtesy of Huffington Post UK.