The Great Gatsby
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
The Great Gatsby is a novel by the American author F. Scott Fitzgerald. First published on April 10, 1925, the story is set in New York City and Long Island during the summer of 1922. The novel chronicles an era that Fitzgerald himself dubbed the "Jazz Age." Following the shock and chaos of World War I, American society enjoyed unprecedented levels of prosperity during the 1920s as the economy soared. At the same time, Prohibition, the ban on the sale and manufacture of alcohol mandated by the Eighteenth Amendment, made millionaires out of bootleggers and led to increases in organized crime. Although Fitzgerald, like Nick Carraway in his novel, idolized the riches and glamour of the age, he was uncomfortable with the unrestrained materialism and lack of morality that went with it.
The Great Gatsby was not popular upon initial printing, selling fewer than 25,000 copies during the remaining fifteen years of Fitzgerald's life.
Although it was adapted into both a Broadway play and a Hollywood film within a year of publication, it was largely forgotten during the Great Depression and World War II. After it was republished in 1945 and 1953, it quickly found a wide readership, and is now often regarded as the Great American Novel. It is now a standard text in high school and university courses on American literature in countries around the world.