Magazine June 1, 2020, Issue

Why The Great Gatsby’s Tragic Catastrophe Feels so Contemporary

Mia Farrow (Daisy Buchanan) and Robert Redford (Jay Gatsby) in promotional art for the 1974 film version of The Great Gatsby (Paramount Pictures)
Under the Red White and Blue: Patriotism, Disenchantment and the Stubborn Myth of the Great Gatsby, by Greil Marcus (Yale University Press, 176 pp., $26)

Sometimes a short book casts a long shadow. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s slim 1925 novel The Great Gatsby looms large in American culture: It has sold well over 25 million copies and spawned film adaptations ranging from a lost silent movie to A-list productions with Redford and DiCaprio. There’s a Gatsby opera, a forthcoming graphic novel, and even a retro computer game in the style of the original Nintendo. It wasn’t always canonical literature — like many classics, the book was widely considered a flop until after the author’s death — but now this gem of the Jazz Age is a

This article appears as “Before the Crash” in the June 1, 2020, print edition of National Review.

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Kelly Scott Franklin — Mr. Franklin is an associate professor of English at Hillsdale College, where he teaches American literature and the great books.

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A reader responds to Theodore Kupfer and Ramesh Ponnuru’s article, “Coronavirus Lockdowns: Going the Distance.”

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