Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Gatsby Week, Day 3: Title Woes

Here’s an interesting essay about the evolution of The Great Gatsby’s iconic cover and various preliminary drawings—as well as a quick summary of the various titles Fitzgerald wanted for the book:

Among the Ash Heaps and Millionaires
[Perkins writes, “The weakness is in the words ‘Ash Heaps’ which do not seem to me to be a sufficiently definite and concrete expression of that part of the idea.”]

“On October 27 [1924], Fitzgerald writes that he is finally sending The Great Gatsby. (He offers as an alternate title Gold-hatted Gatsby.) He follows up a week or so later with a letter in which he says that he has decided to retain his original title:

“'Trimalchio in West Egg. The only other titles that seem to fit it are Trimalchio and On the Road to West Egg. I had two others Gold-hatted Gatsby and The High-bouncing Lover but they seemed too light.'

“On November 14th Perkins replies that none of his Scribner colleagues likes the Trimalchio title, and urges him to change it.”

Good call, Max…there’s a reason you're a legendary editor!

I didn’t realize the original cover artwork is owned by Princeton University.


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.