Who killed Gatsby

Summary of The Great Gatsby

The Roaring Twenties

The 1920s are often referred to as the Roaring Twenties or the Jazz Age. Large sections of American society benefited from the economic upswing, which was not to come to an end until the Great Depression of 1929. Technical innovations and inventions changed everyday life, people presented themselves as modern; as a countermovement to the puritanical austerity of the past century, there was a lot of partying, dancing and drinking. The self-image of women changed: smoking cigarettes and with androgynous bobbed hair, women took part for the first time publicly in the pleasures previously reserved for men.

It was precisely in this heated atmosphere that a prohibition law came into force in 1920 that banned the production and serving of alcohol in the USA. Since the demand for alcoholic beverages did not decline, there was a subsequent boom in organized crime. A fortune could be made by smuggling alcohol during Prohibition. In this semi-criminal but exuberant mood, many a soldier who had returned from the First World War stumbled around, often cynical and disaffected.

A number of successful writers whose works were written against this background referred to themselves as the "Lost Generation". In addition to F. Scott Fitzgerald also belonged Gertrude Stein and Ernest Hemingway to this group. Fitzgerald formulated the common attitude towards life as follows: For his generation "all gods are dead, all wars fought, all beliefs destroyed".


In June 1922, the 25-year-old Fitzgerald wrote to his editor that he wanted to write “something new, something extraordinary and beautiful and simple and intricately constructed”. However, it took him a while to actually find the peace of mind to get to work. He moved in with his wife Zelda Fitzgerald from Minnesota to the Plaza Hotel in New York and from there to Long Island, where the wild party life awaited them, which Fitzgerald would later describe in his book. The couple's love of drinking had previously been notorious and grew into a serious drinking problem on Long Island. Fitzgerald would not be able to finish his novel in Paris until a year and a half later. While working on The Great Gatsby he dealt with the works of the one who is known for his complex first-person narrators Joseph Conrad. First-person storytelling was no longer a novelty in American literature of the 1920s; Herman MelvillesMoby Dick (1851) and Mark TwainsHuckleberry Finn (1884) are well-known examples of narratives from the first-person perspective. Fitzgerald's use of the - only partially reliable - first-person narrator can, however, be read as a subtle continuation of this tradition and on his reading while working on Gatsby to be led back.

Impact history

F. Scott Fitzgerald had with This side of paradise and The beautiful and the damned already published two successful novels as of 1925 The Great Gatsby appeared. The book was received favorably by the critics, but remained a failure from a commercial point of view. No more than 24,000 copies were sold during Fitzgerald's lifetime. The reason for the cautious response from the audience was probably Fitzgerald's bitter criticism of the “American way of life”. The novel was read - rightly - as a mirror of the society of the time and did not harmonize with the self-image of Fitzgerald's previous readership.

The author and his novel were rated quite differently by the writing colleagues. For Ernest Hemingway, Fitzgerald was "the greatest of us all," and T. S. Eliot wrote, The Great Gatsby is "the first step forward that American literature has taken since Henry James".

After the Second World War the book was reprinted and there was a real Fitzgerald renaissance. The novel's literary craftsmanship began to attract more general attention, and sales rose, with 400,000 copies being sold annually in the United States alone. The Great Gatsby is treated as a teaching text in schools and universities around the world and is often referred to as the most important American novel of the 20th century. Not least because Fitzgerald masterfully managed to bridge the gap between serious and entertaining literature. The great Gatsby was born in 1974 Robert Redford filmed and in 2013 with Leonardo DiCaprio