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Gatsby Fever Hits the Ransom Center

Original film still from the original 1926 silent film of The Great Gatsby.

Thanks to last Friday’s premiere of the new The Great Gatsby film, Gatsby fever is in full swing nationwide—and now it’s hit the Forty Acres.

No, that doesn’t mean that Leo DiCaprio is at Gregory Gym (sorry, ladies). The Harry Ransom Center’s latest display, entitled Gatsby’s Many Lives, opened last Friday—and while Leo-less, it provides an intriguing glimpse into the evolution of the novel.

The display follows the course of the novel through several iterations, complete with notes and letters from F. Scott Fitzgerald himself. In one letter to fellow novelist Joseph Hergesheimer, Fitzgerald lamented the book’s initial reception, writing “I’m afraid it’s a financial failure.” Little did he know that some 88 years later, that “financial failure” would become a glittering 3-D Baz Luhrmann adaptation that earned $51.1 million on its opening weekend.

In addition to some of Fitzgerald’s own writings, the display features Francis Cugat’s iconic first-edition dust jacket (pictured below). Cugat reportedly finished the cover before Fitzgerald finished the novel—and according to the display, Fitzgerald loved it so much that “he wrote it into his book.”

Whether you’re just now joining the Gatsby fan club or you’ve been a member since high school, Gatsby’s Many Lives promises to shed new light on an American classic. Visit the display at the Harry Ransom Center, on view through June 9.

Original book cover (1925)

 

Top: Original film still from the 1926 silent film (now lost) of The Great GatsbyImage courtesy of Harry Ransom Center.

Bottom: First edition (1925) of The Great Gatsby. Image courtesy of Harry Ransom Center.

 

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