The Great Gatsby: An Edition of the Manuscript


Product Details

Cambridge University Press
Publish Date
5.86 X 8.76 X 0.77 inches | 0.93 pounds

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About the Author

Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald, an American essayist, short story writer, novelist and screenwriter, was born on September 24, 1896. During his life, he published four novels, four short-story collections, and 164 short stories. While he achieved popular success in the 1920s, his work was not recognized by critics until after he died. Now widely regarded as one of the great writers of the 20th-Century, he was best known for his depictions of the excesses of the Jazz Age. Born into a middle-class family in St. Paul, MN, Fitzgerald spent most of his childhood in New York and went to Princeton University. After a failed romance, he dropped out of college to join the Army during World War I. While stationed in Alabama, he met the southern debutante Zelda Sayre. While she initially rejected his advances because of his poor financial prospects, she agreed to marry him after he published This Side of Paradise in 1920. The book was a commercial success and became a cultural sensation. His second novel, The Beautiful and Damned, published two years later, enhanced his reputation. He also wrote for popular magazines such as The Saturday Evening Post, Collier's Weekly, and Esquire, which helped support his affluent lifestyle. Fitzgerald began traveling to Europe, where he met the writers and artists of the "Lost Generation" ex-pat community, including Ernest Hemingway. Fitzgerald's third and best-known novel, The Great Gatsby, was published in 1925 to generally favorable reviews, but it did not sell well. His last novel, Tender Is the Night, was published in 1934.Fitzgerald's final years were difficult. His wife was institutionalized for mental health reasons and he struggled financial as the popularity of his works declined. He moved to Hollywood to become a screenwriter but was not successful at it. Fitzgerald struggled with alcoholism and eventually overcame it, but he died of a heart attack at the age of 44. He had been working on a fifth novel, The Last Tycoon, but didn't finished it. His friend from Princeton, Edmund Wilson, who became an influential literary critic, finished the book and published it a year later.
James L. W. West III is Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of English at Pennsylvania State University. He has recently published a collected edition of William Styron's non-fiction under the title My Generation (2015).
Don C. Skemer is Curator of Manuscripts, Princeton University Library, New Jersey.


'Like a jazz album offering multiple takes on a single tune, the value of this edition lies in the access it offers to the creative process. Comparing it to the novel published in April 1925 reveals the decisions Fitzgerald made as he revised his greatest work and supplies fascinating insights into its evolution ... Seeing The Great Gatsby as it might have been shows that Fitzgerald's drive for perfection matched that of his beloved hero.' Sarah Graham, The Times Literary Supplement