If you have been following TBTP, you are aware that an enormous tranche of American cultural works entered the public domain on January 1, 2021. One of the real treasures that is now freely available is The Great Gatsby . Most survivors of the U.S. educational system have been exposed to F.Scott Fitzgerald’s iconic novel, but if you haven’t read the book now is the time to get a digital copy for free. The Standard Ebooks edition is the first public domain edition I know of online.
The novel is a colorful study of America’s Jazz Age—a term said to be coined by Fitzgerald himself—complete with wealthy socialites living in hedonistic abandon, libertine flappers, jazz bands, roaring roadsters, and greasy speakeasies populated with shady grifters. Contrasted against the glamorous lives of wealthy socialites is the entrenched lower class, who live in gray, dingy squalor among smoldering ash-heaps. Fitzgerald uses the setting to examine the American Dream: the idea that anyone in America can achieve success through hard work and dedication. Gatsby has spent his life reaching for his dream. Some say he’s already achieved it. But has he? Is the dream even real for the hard-working poor that Gatsby and Tom race past in their glittering cars on the way to the decadent city?Fitzgerald wrote much of his real life into the novel. Like Carraway, he was a Midwesterner educated at an Ivy-league school who went to live on Long Island. Despite his meager finances he hobnobbed with socialites, and spent his career struggling for money to maintain the grand style his romantic interests were accustomed to.The cover art, titled Celestial Eyes, was commissioned from Francis Cugat, who completed it before the novel was finished. The huge eyes gazing down on the blazing city so moved Fitzgerald that he wrote them into the story.
Fitzgerald saw the novel as a purely artistic work, free of the pulp pandering required by his shorter commissions—but despite that, contemporary reviews were mixed, and it sold poorly. Fitzgerald thought it a failure, and died believing the novel to be fatally obscure. Only during World War II did it come back to the public consciousness, buoyed by the support of a ring of writers and critics and printed as an Armed Service Edition to be sent to soldiers on the front. Now it is an American classic.
This ebook is only thought to be free of copyright restrictions in the United States. It may still be under copyright in other countries. If you’re not located in the United States, you must check your local laws to verify that the contents of this ebook are free of copyright restrictions in the country you’re located in before downloading or using this ebook.