11 Things You Don't Know About 'The Great Gatsby'

great gatsby dicaprio carey mulligan‘The Great Gatsby’ comes to theatres May 10.

F. Scott Fitzgerald always wanted his novel “The Great Gatsby” to become a “consciously artistic achievement.”

Today, it is just that. 

His American classic is mandatory reading across English classrooms. However, there was a time no one wanted to read about Gatsby and his lost love, Daisy.

With Baz Luhrmann’s anticipated film adaptation in theatres this month, we re-read our copy of the book. 

Ahead of the 182-pages of the novel is a 22-page introduction from Charles Scribner III.

You’ve probably passed over it to finish required reading and mull over symbolism regarding the green light at the end of a dock and the watchful eyes of Dr. T. J. Eckleberg

If you go back and take a read before the film comes out May 10, we recommend reading Scribner’s forward.

It shares many details about the early drafts of Fitzgerald’s novel, the lengthy process and pains with which he went through to produce it—settling on a title was one of the most difficult tasks—and the immediate failure of the book. 

Some would say, “Gatsby” was simply ahead of its time.

Fitzgerald spent a year and a half working on the comedy -- a satire on the American Dream and spoof of President Harding's administration -- which he hoped would make him a famous Broadway playwright.

The young author began work on 'Gatsby' after the first draft of 'Vegetable' was complete while travelling between Long Island, Great Neck, and New York City for play rehearsal.

'Vegetable' was a disaster opening night in the fall of 1923 in Atlantic City, NJ.

(Source: 'The Great Gatsby')

The original concept was to have a 'Catholic element' in the novel.

Today, the story takes place in the summer of 1922 -- during the Jazz Age -- in both Long Island and New York City.

(Source: 'The Great Gatsby')

9. There's a short story dedicated to Gatsby's childhood.

During Fitzgerald's early manuscript of Gatsby, he wrote about a Catholic boy growing up in the Midwest.

According to Fitzgerald, this was to describe Gatsby's childhood in a prologue; however, it was cut from the book.

Instead, the bit was published nearly a year before 'The Great Gatsby' in June 1925 in the short story, 'Absolution.'

(Source: 'The Great Gatsby')

8. Ernest Hemingway hated the now-iconic cover of the novel.

The author described it as 'the ugliest jacket he'd seen.'

(Source: 'The Great Gatsby')

Instead, he suggested the following:

'Among the Ash-Heaps and Millionaires'
'Trimalchio in West Egg'
'Gold-Hatted Gatsby'
simply 'Gatsby'
'The High-Bouncing Lover'
'On the Road to West Egg'

(Source: 'The Great Gatsby')

However, it was too late to change the title, and 'The Great Gatsby' remained.

(Source: 'The Great Gatsby')

Trimalchio is a fictional character from a 1664 novel 'Satyricon' who achieved wealth and success through hard work.

You can read portions of it here.

While Fitzgerald hoped his most passioned work would sell 75,000 copies upon in 1925, the first printing sold slightly more than 20,0000 -- just enough to repay publisher Scribners.

(Source: 'The Great Gatsby')

3. Initial reviews called the book a dud.

2. Fitzgerald blamed poor sales on the title of the book.

He claimed at the time the book had no important women characters for the females who controlled the fiction market.

Yet, Daisy Buchanan was both the main love interest and depicted on the book's famed cover.

(Source: 'The Great Gatsby')

1. Fitzgerald died before his masterpiece became a success.

When the author died in 1940, there were still unsold copies of 'Gatsby' on store shelves.

It took more than a decade for the tale to find a following among a new generation. By 1959, the book was selling at the rate of 50,000 books per year.

It's suggested the book gained readers after the Armed Services Editions gave away copies to the American military during World War II.

(Source: 'The Great Gatsby')

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