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9 things you didn’t know about ‘The Great Gatsby’ on its 90th anniversary

🕐 2 min read

“The Great Gatsby” turns 90 this Friday. The story, with its legendary tragic hero, may feel as familiar as the Charleston, but how much do you really know about the great American novel?

To celebrate, the publisher is reissuing a commemorative edition with that famous jacket art by Francis Cugat. And on the Scribner website, you can read statements from Anthony Doerr, Nelson DeMille, Ann Beattie and others about how “The Great Gatsby” influenced their writing.

Here are nine curious facts about the novel, noted in Matthew J. Bruccoli’s 1992 preface to “The Great Gatsby” and Maureen Corrigan’s recent book, “So We Read On: How The Great Gatsby Came to Be and Why It Endures”:

– That we’re still talking about “The Great Gatsby” would have surprised its author. When Fitzgerald died in 1940, copies of the second printing were still piled up unsold.

– Today, Scribner sells more than 500,000 copies a year.

– Editor Maxwell Perkins commissioned Cugat’s jacket cover design months before Fitzgerald finished the novel.

– The first publication said Daisy’s daughter was 3, suggesting that Daisy was already pregnant when she married Tom.

– The Jewish gangster associated with Gatsby works at “The Swastika Holding Company.”

– After Fitzgerald’s death, Edmund Wilson changed the spelling from “orgastic” to “orgiastic” in the famous closing line: “Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us.”

– Over the years, more than 1,000 of Fitzgerald’s original punctuation marks were omitted from the novel. Bruccoli’s “authorized” version restored them in 1992.

– Maybe Gatsby didn’t dodge a bullet, but we did: Fitzgerald considered calling his masterpiece “The High-Bouncing Lover” or even “Trimalchio in West Egg.” Yikes.

– One of the first reviews to appear — in the New York World — carried this headline: “F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Latest a Dud.” A bad call, old sport.

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