Skip to main content

The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby

Dr Katie McGettigan on The Great Gatsby

Dr Kate McGettigan's TeacherHub>English Forum Lecture on the context for The Great Gatsby and The Grapes of Wrath

Time is crucial in The Great Gatsby

Gatsby wants to repeat the past or to return to the past

There are over 500 references to time in The Great Gatsby

Events in the novel are set at very particular times

The novel itself is located in a very specific moment in time: the summer of 1952

At the end the novel goes from temporal specificity the novel opens up into historical time

Coming Soon!

Jordan Brower, “Written with the Movies in Mind”: Twentieth-Century American Literature and Transmedial Possibility, Modern Language Quarterly, 78: 2 (2017), pp. 243-273. (included in resource packs)

Situates Gatsby within Fitzgerald’s career as a screenwriter, the increasingly popularity of film adaptations of books, and a new culture of authors selling screen rights. He argues that Gatsby shows Fitzgerald’s ambivalent relationship to the movie industry, as the novel both courts and frustrates the possibility of its own filmic existence, creating what Brower calls “transmedial possibility”. Too complex and lengthy for most A Level students, but has some useful close readings that could be extracted, and provides a fresh take on the novel.

Sarah Churchwell, Careless People: Murder, Mayhem and the Invention of the Great Gatsby. London: Virago, 2013.

A history of the writing of and inspirations behind The Great Gatsby. Useful for very specific contextual interpretations of some of the novel’s characters, settings and symbols. Written for a popular audience – engaging and student friendly, with Churchwell offering clear opinions on the text.

Jim Cullen, The American Dream; A Short History of an Idea that Shaped a Nation. Oxford: OUP, 2003

A cultural history of the American dream from Puritans to Hollywood. Not specifically on The Great Gatsby other than a short section in the conclusion, but introduction is good for encouraging students to think more critically and questioningly about the concept of the American Dream.

Barbara Will, “Gatsby Redux”, American Literary History, 27: 2 (2015), pp. 342-350. (in resource pack)

Actually a review of several recent books on Gatsby, this essay neatly sets out two competing interpretations of the text: as a novel strictly bound to its 1920s context, or as a novel that transcends its immediate context, and reaches for the mythic. Useful for showing alternative readings. 

H.L. Mencken’s review of TGG in the Chicago Sunday Tribune, 3 May 1925

One of the great journalists of early twentieth-century America, Menken gives a lukewarm review of Gatsby – calling it a “glorified anecdote”. Menken reads the novel as torn between “Fitzgerald the stylist” and “Fitzgerald the social historian”, the former’s love of beauty removing the possibility of real social critique.

chicagotribune.com/lifestyles/books/ct-prj-great-gatsby-f-scott-fitzgerald-hl-mencken-20141010-story.html

Edwin Clark’s review of TGG in the New York Times, 19 April 1925

Calls Gatsby “a curious book, a mystical, glamourous story of today”, and suggests that Fitzgerald’s stylist “economy” compliments the story of excess.

nytimes.com/books/00/12/24/specials/fitzgerald-gatsby.html

Explore Royal Holloway

Get help paying for your studies at Royal Holloway through a range of scholarships and bursaries.

There are lots of exciting ways to get involved at Royal Holloway. Discover new interests and enjoy existing ones

Heading to university is exciting. Finding the right place to live will get you off to a good start

Whether you need support with your health or practical advice on budgeting or finding part-time work, we can help

Discover more about our 21 departments and schools

Find out why Royal Holloway is in the top 25% of UK universities for research rated ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’

Royal Holloway is a research intensive university and our academics collaborate across disciplines to achieve excellence.

Discover world-class research at Royal Holloway

Discover more about who we are today, and our vision for the future

Royal Holloway began as two pioneering colleges for the education of women in the 19th century, and their spirit lives on today

We’ve played a role in thousands of careers, some of them particularly remarkable

Find about our decision-making processes and the people who lead and manage Royal Holloway today