An Early Version of The Great Gatsby

Francis Scott Fitzgerald’s letter to his editor, Max Perkins when he set out to write The Great Gatsby. Fitzgerald was ambivalent about the title, making it hard for him to choose. He entertained many choices e.g. Trimalchio in West Egg, before settling on the definitive one. Trimalchio is a character in Satyricon by Gaius Petronius. In the AD Roman work of fiction Trimalchio is a very rich freedman who displays his wealth

 
 

Transcript
July, 1922.

Dear Mr. Perkins:

Glad you liked the addenda to the Table of Contents. I feel quite confident the book will go. How do you think The Love Legend will sell? You’ll be glad to know that nothing has come of the movie idea & I’m rather glad myself. At present working on my play — the same one. Trying to arrange for an Oct. production in New York. Bunny Wilson (Edmund Wilson Jr.) says that it’s without doubt the best American comedy to date (that’s just between you and me.)

Did you see that in that Literary Digest contest I stood 6th among the novelists? Not that it matters. I suspect you of having been one of the voters.

Will you see that the semi-yearly account is mailed to me by the 1st of the month — or before if it is ready? I want to see where I stand. I want to write something new — something extraordinary and beautiful and simple & intricately patterned.

As Usual

(Signed, ‘F Scott Fitzgerald’)

 
 

Cover of the first edition, 1925 illustrated by Francis Cugat. Ernest Hemingway confessed to Fitzgerald he did loathe that book jacket

 
 

Handwritten manuscript of Chapter 1

 

 
 

“Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgasmic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter–tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther…and one fine morning–so we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past”?
(Chapter 9)

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