How Mr F Scott Fitzgerald Wrote The Great Gatsby
Photograph courtesy of spbooks.com
The author’s handwritten manuscript has recently been republished.
These days, novel writing usually takes place on a computer with nothing more than a few working fingers and a Microsoft Word document. Back in the champagne-soaked fug of the 1920s, though, there was none of that nonsense, and writing things out by hand was par for the course. Just look at The Great Gatsby, Mr F Scott Fitzgerald’s era-defining novel – the manuscript was mostly handwritten in pencil, and has recently been republished in a limited edition run of just 1,800 copies.
With blown-up pages printed on luxury paper and encased in an Art Deco slipcase gilded with iron, the collectable book is a reproduced manuscript of the novel, the original of which resides in Princeton University library after being donated in 1950 by Mr Scott Fitzgerald’s daughter, Ms Frances “Scottie” Fitzgerald. Edits and amendments are written throughout, certain scenes are extended and parts have been crossed out or added elsewhere. In other words, the creative process behind Mr Scott Fitzgerald’s heady magnum opus is laid out on the actual pages, and provides a rare and charming insight into one of the greatest novels of the 20th century.
Set in a world of feathered flapper girls and debaucherous mansion parties, Mr Scott Fitzgerald’s sybaritic masterpiece tells the story of Jay Gatsby, a wealthy and distant bachelor who is not quite the man he appears. A comment on the unchecked hedonism of the 1920s and the darkness that often accompanied the decadence of the American Dream, the book is regularly named as a Great American Novel and took on particular relevance again in 2013 when Mr Baz Luhrmann brought it to the big screen with Mr Leonardo DiCaprio and Ms Carey Mulligan.
Mr Luhrmann has also contributed a foreword to the facsimile. He writes: “[In the year he died], some people say that his books were out of print, but they’re wrong – that year  Fitzgerald sold nine copies of Tender Is The Night and seven of The Great Gatsby, earning royalties of $13.13. Fitzgerald himself could occasionally be spotted, in those final years, wandering in and out of stores buying up copies of his own books, just so that they’d register some sales.” How times have changed.