The Great Gatsby

gatsby

Inarguably one of my favorite books of all time, “The Great Gatsby” has stayed with me ever since I read it in high school. I re-read it every year or two, and find new things about it, parts of dialogue that stick out more than the last time, and I fall in love with it all over again. My friend Tom used to joke that he was going to get the last paragraph of the book tattooed on his arm…in Swedish. I get the sentiment, loving a book so much you want to forever keep it as close to you as possible. There’s something about the last line, “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past” that just makes me weak in the knees.

So when I saw this collage of various Gatsby covers, a collection spanning 83 years from F. Scott Fitzgerald biographer and scholar Matthew J. Bruccoli, in last week’s T Magazine, my jaw dropped. The collection includes a few different languages and artistic interpretations, including the iconic blue cover by artist Francis Coradal-Cugat. The version I have isn’t shown, funnily enough. It goes without saying that this is basically book porn for me. The collection is now housed at the University of South Carolina and is worth several million dollars. Bruccoli didn’t care about the money, saying “You don’t buy books as an investment,” he said. “You buy them because it gives you pleasure to read them, to touch them . . . to see them on shelves.” Amen.

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April 22, 2013 / art / photo / read / watch / LEAVE A COMMENT / 28

28 comments

  • I am looking forward to the movie next month!!! :D For the sets and clothes!

    • The first time I came across The Great Gatsby, it was the beginning of Chapter 3, describing one of Gatsby’s Saturday night parties, as an unseen prose passage in an English Lit exercise in secondary school. In high school I borrowed the book from the school library.

      • That’s so neat that you got a sneak peek before you read the whole thing! Did you end up liking it? I’m tentative about seeing the movie but I know it will be sumptuously done in terms of the costumes and sets!

        • It could be a matter of personal taste, I found it OK. My favourite part is still the original passage I first saw. (It was a photocopy from the book so the passage cut off in the middle of a sentence and enticed me to borrow the book for the rest.) I did download the ebook a few days ago to read again for the movie and even Googled for some Lit analysis.

          I like some of the songs from the new movie soundtrack – been replaying Florence + The Machine’s Over The Love and am looking forward to the full jazz cover of Crazy in Love!

  • oh i love this post erin! i’m mesmerised by this book & i don’t even actually know if i’ve read it or not… crazy, right… i’m getting feverish with the lead-up to the movie also because i love the work of baz luhrmann & catherine martin… they dare to dream big…
    if we didn’t live an ocean apart i’d suggest co-hosting a gatsby party! how fab would that be!

    • Ohh, how much fun would that be?! We could all don our flapper best, with fabulous feathered headbands and long beaded necklaces, and drink cocktails and swoon around like we were 1920s royalty. Maybe we can have s Skype party instead?? That’s not the same, but it could be fun! xo

  • well, i will be forever referring to it now as de grote gatsby. oh, that first cover. they really captured the book with that one ; ) i would love to own a copy of that first one, i would treasure it. i think one of my copy’s is the third.

    i thought that you had done this and i was truly amazed, how long would it take to painstaking look for all of these covers on the internet? and then make it look so artistic?!

    and that last line, that’s why i don’t read book on devices. it’s a whole ritual. it’s like food. and you couldn’t eat virtual food and have the same experience (if virtual food were, of course, more comparable to reading on a device, say it gave you nutrients and such. okay maybe a pill for food . . . okay i am stopping now.) happy monday!! xoxoxox

    • I wish I could take credit for it, but thankfully someone else did all the hard work for me. ;) My copy isn’t shown, but the ones they handed out in high school were the 3rd one, with the blue cover. That’s the most common one, I think. I’ve never seen most of these before!

      And I’m so, so with you on real books > e-readers. The experience is just not the same. The very tangible nature of books makes the experience visceral and just touches every sense when you read lines that powerful. It’s just not the same in any other form. And food in pill form is just reminding me of The Jetsons! Haha. xoxo

      • Yes, the copy I borrowed from my high school library was also the blue one.

  • A Gatsby party would be fun!
    That’s an awesome collage.
    Must admit I read the book in my early 20s and didn’t get it, I really didn’t see what all the fuss was about but perhaps I need to read it again. Didn’t get Catcher in the Rye either!
    Will defo be seeing the film although it’s a shame it’s Baz Lurman as his films are basically all exactly the same and I can’t bear the over the top nature of them. I just want to see the clothes and interiors really which look amazing.

    • What??! Birdy! You need to re-read it. It’s a classic and it’s fantastic and just beautiful. I think the best thing that could have happened was that we read it in high school with a really dedicated teacher who pointed out all the imagery and symbolism that we would have missed otherwise. Once that door is opened it makes the book so much more powerful. I’ll be glad to be your mini-English teacher if you want to read it again! :D
      But yes, all of those movies are so over the top and gaudy, which is why I’m nervous about seeing it. I don’t want them to trash the story in favor of ritzy and decadent costumes, you know? I’ll still end up seeing it, but I’d be just as happy if they hadn’t made this movie version. xoxo

  • I was in 10th grade the first time I read TGG. I loved it then and I still do. It was a final semester project and we all got questions on the books we’d read to answer in class. You go into class, blue examination notebooks and bic pens at the ready and are handed your question. It felt like opening a fortune. Mine read, “What price wealth?”

    I wrote for an hour solid and a little longer because I had to dash to my next class. I can still remember the rush of adrenaline as I fell into my seat.

    What price wealth? I have two of those book covers…

    • I clearly have not turned off my high-school brain, because your essay question made me start brainstorming my own response. “What price wealth?” OH, I could write for hours on that topic. Gatsby’s green light, the parties, the cars…stop me. I wrote my AP English exam on Gatsby’s green light! I love this book. LOVE.

      Which covers do you have?? xoxo

  • That’s exactly how I feel about books (the last quote). The Great Gatsby was so much better the second time around, after I graduated from college. Any others that you feel like that about?

    • yes!

    • I find new things to appreciate every time I read it, but my favorite time was still the first time. Nothing beats the first time you read something, when you don’t know what will happen next. That’s the magic of books.

      Other books I feel that way about: An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin, This Side of Paradise also by Fitzgerald, A Moveable Feast by Hemingway, and Tunnel Vision by a little-known writer Keith Lowe. I’d recommend any of them whole-heartedly. xoxo

    • OH! And Atonement by Ian McEwan!! I wanted to hug that book when I was finished. I’ll probably think of more, just wait.

  • I’m reeeally excited for the upcoming movie :-) These covers are amazing!

    • Haha, I’m much more hesitant than excited! I’m still going to go see it, but I love this story so much and I’m nervous it’s going to be given a backseat role in favor if the glitz and over the top Baz Luhrmann-esque elements he’s famous for. xoxo

  • Totally feeling the sentiment that books aren’t invested in. I have 4 different editions of my favorite novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray. Mostly because I love re-reading the first edition I ever bought, the one with soft and loved pages and my notes in the margins. And because I love seeing the gold embossed letters of the early 1900s edition I have. And because I just need to have two other pretty-cover editions because just like you, I love good book porn.

    • I love this. I’m so glad you understand! I recently just bought a second copy of Steve Martin’s “An Object of Beauty” this time in hardcover, because I needed a fancy copy to keep on display. My paperback copy is dog-eared but I love it so much. I’d think about collecting Gatsby versions but it seems someone already beat me to the punch! xoxo

  • For minute there, I thought you put that collage together. Well, who knew there were so many different book covers. That’s pretty cool to see them all together. I’ve read the one with the blue cover and the eyes and I also own one that isn’t shown (the black and gold art deco version). Such a great, spellbinding book! I just reread recently and I think I’ll read it again before the movie comes out. I can’t remember if you’re excited about seeing the movie by Baz Luhrmann.

    • Ha, I would love to take credit. I’m a pretty lazy blogger though ;) The art deco version is gorgeous, I’ve only seen it recently but I might have to make it mine, just for the collection. The version I have came from my brother’s mom, who I believe got it in the 70s. It’s a paperback with a brown and blue cover. It’s this one!I just remembered I took a pic of it on Instagram, haha.

      I’m excited about it because it’s The Great Gatsby, but I’m also very, very trepidatious because Baz Luhrmann has ALWAYS been about style over substance, and the whole thing could come off very glossy and slick with tons of money thrown into the sets and costumes but zero thought about the actual story. I’m a little protective over Gatsby as a story, and I want to see it done well, not done for shock value, if that makes sense? The Beyonce song they’re including is leading me to believe my nerves are well-founded :( xoxo

  • I am quite sheepish to say that, as a great lover of all books, The Great Gatsby is not one that I have read (*hangs head in shame*). I am currently rectifying that by devouring it on my tube ride home and I am Loving It! I can’t wait for the movie, I think I have seen the trailer at least 15 times.

    • That’s awesome, Meghan! It’s never too late to read it, haha. And just in time for the movie, too. I’m a big stickler for reading the book before seeing the movie, but that’s just because I’m weird :) Let me know what you think when you’re finished! xoxo

  • I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve never read it! xx

    • Whaaaaaat?! Fix that at once! I promise it will be worth it!! xoxo

  • Funny, I was in the bookstore here the other day and making AUDIBLE BARF SOUNDS at the revamped cover of TGG with Leonardo’s greezy face glaring out at me, and horrible photoshopping and otherwise buttraping of what should be a beautiful book cover, and then you post this. Hur! Also, to my horror, they had made Wuthering Heights look like a Twilight-related ghosty/vampire love story. I suppose they’re trying to appeal to a new generation of readers, but UGHHHHHH it makes me sad. And make retch noises.

    Yech.