The Great Gatsby: Context Analysis

The Great Gatsby:

Context Analysis

The Great Gatsby, set in what was known as the Jazz Age, or the Roaring Twenties, brilliantly evokes its historical moment: postwar America’s economic growth, new jazz music, and free-flowing illicit whiskey. It was “a whole race turning hedonistic, choosing on pleasure,” Fitzgerald later commented in an article on the era.

West Egg’s unabashedly luxurious lifestyle reflects the sudden affluence made available during Prohibition when criminal operations involving the black-market sale of booze abounded.

Such illicit businesses provide Gatsby’s money and fund his extravagant parties, which are most likely modeled on gatherings Fitzgerald attended when he resided on Long Island in the early 1920s.

Fitzgerald completed The Great Gatsby while residing in France in early 1925, and Scribner’s published it in April of the same year. Fitzgerald battled for a long time to come up with a title, playing with Trimalchio and Under the Red, White, and Blue, among others; he was never content with the title The Great Gatsby, under which it was eventually published.

Fitzgerald’s editor, Maxwell Perkins, commissioned the dust jacket illustration seven months before he received the final text. It was created by Francis Cugat, a Spanish-born artist who worked on Hollywood movie posters and shows a woman’s eyes dangling above Coney Island’s carnival lights.

Fitzgerald liked the design and stated in a letter to Perkins that he had written it into the book, however, whether this refers to Doctor Eckleburg’s eyes or something else is unclear. Cugat’s artwork is now widely recognized as one of the most well-known and renowned instances of cover art in American literature.

Although Fitzgerald believed The Great Gatsby to be his crowning effort at the time of its release, the novel was neither a critical nor an economic triumph. The reviews were mixed, and the initial edition of 20,000 copies sold slowly. It was reprinted once more during Fitzgerald’s lifetime, and copies from the second printing remained unsold until he died in 1940.

The work was rediscovered a few years later and saw a meteoric rise in popularity in the 1950s, quickly becoming a common text in the high school curriculum. It is still one of Scribner’s best-sellers and is regarded as a classic of American literature.

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