READ GATSBY-DISCUSS GATSBY is the blog to go to if you are part of The Big Read. In addition to Vigo County, Indiana, the following communities have been selected to participate in The Big Read and have chosen The Great Gatsby as the book they will be reading: Libertyville, IL, Sioux City, IA, Craven, Pamlico and Carteret counties of NC, Newark, OH and Charlottesville, VA. All are invited to post comments and questions on The Great Gatsby and The Big Read on this blog. At READ GATSBY-DISCUSS GATSBY we agree with F. Scott Fitzgerald, “Either you think, or else others have to think for you and take power from you, pervert and discipline your natural tastes, civilize and sterilize you.”

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Great Gatsby, “Discontinued Title”

"As the cover of this 1934 Modern Library edition stamped “Discontinued Title” suggests, The Great Gatsby was never a commercial success during Fitzgerald’s lifetime. In a 1936 letter to the series’ editor, Bennett Cerf, Fitzgerald blamed Gatsby’s failure on its size, noting consumers’ preference for bulky books. Eleven years after its first publication, Fitzgerald estimated that The Great Gatsby had sold fewer than 25,000 copies in America, excluding the weak sales of the Modern Library edition. Fitzgerald suggested Cerf include the weightier Tender Is the Night alongside Gatsby in the Modern Library line (Letters, pp. 557-558). However, as this cover shows, Modern Library not only declined to pick up Tender, the publisher also discontinued Gatsby.

"The Modern Library reprint is noteworthy for Fitzgerald’s introduction, which includes his defense of his subject matter: “. . . I had recently been kidded half haywire by critics who felt that my material was such as to preclude all dealing with mature persons in a mature world. But, my God! it was my material, and it was all I had to deal with” (p. ix)."
This is from the F. Scott Fitzgerald Centenary website which was launched in 1996, the 100th anniversary of his birth. The site is designed to increase awareness of a great American writer and to celebrate his writings, his life, and his relationship with other writers of the twentieth century. The website draws extensively on books, photographs, and related materials in the Matthew J. and Arlyn Bruccoli Collection of F. Scott Fitzgerald at at the Thomas Cooper Library, University of South Carolina. GO HERE to enjoy this amazing resource.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Terre Haute Tribune Star Big Read Column

Gary Daily, "More than thousand copies of The Great Gatsby are circulating in Vigo County"

“Born originals, how comes it to pass that we die Copies?”
— Edward Young, 1742

GO HERE for column

Monday, March 12, 2007

Terre Haute Tribune Star Big Read Column

Gary Daily, "The Big Read about enticing all of Vigo County to read novel"

GO HERE for column

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Can You Tell a Book By Its Cover?

"Francis Cugats painting for F. Scott Fitzgeralds The Great Gatsby is the most celebrated and widely disseminated jacket art in twentieth-century American literature, and perhaps of all time (see above). After appearing on the first printing in 1925, it was revived more than a half-century later for the Scribner Library paperback edition in 1979; more than two decades (and several million copies) later it may be seen in classrooms of virtually every high school and college throughout the country. Like the novel it embellishes, this Art Deco tour-de-force has firmly established itself as a classic. At the same time, it represents a most unusual, in my view, unique form of collaboration between author and jacket artist. Under normal circumstances, the artist illustrates a scene or motif conceived by the author; he lifts, as it were, his image from a page of the book. In this instance, however, the artists image preceded the finished manuscript and Fitzgerald actually maintained that he had written it into his book. But what precisely did he mean by this claim?"

Read the full and fascinating article on Cugat's cover art for the first edition of Gatsby, "Celestial Eyes: From Metamorphosis to Masterpiece" by Charles Scribner III GO HERE.

The challenging question Scribner poses remains: ". . .
Fitzgerald actually maintained that he had 'written it [the cover art] into' his book. But what precisely did he mean by this claim?"

Comments and interpretations welcomed.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Terre Haute Tribune Star Big Read Column

Gary Daily, "Raise your own questions; make ‘Gatsby’ your book" GO HERE for column

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Did Fitzgerald’s famous kiss sell perfume or something else?

Jay Gatsby spared no expense on his parties, his rainbow of silk shirts came from England and his cream finished and silver-plated automobile makes a garage full of James Bond vehicles sound like they’re something straight off of a used car lot. And Daisy’s voice? Well, it sounds like money.

Conspicuous consumption, everything from lap dogs to gilt-edged bonds, all priced for a moment’s pleasure or the leverage of power, runs through The Great Gatsby. Maybe this Obsession commercial is about more than The Kiss and those tuning forks, stars, and blooming flowers. Or, the smell of the stuff.

Nick Carraway observes part of what all of this getting and spending might mean:

“They were careless people, Tom and Daisy — they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made…”

And then there was this assessment: "I make my money by supplying a public demand. If I break the law, my customers who number hundreds of the best people in Chicago, are as guilty as I am. The only difference is that I sell and they buy. Everybody calls me a racketeer. I call myself a businessman." – Al Capone, 1929

Any thoughts on the materialism and meretriciousness found in The Great Gatsby versus the values we live by today?


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