The Many Faces (and Book Covers) of The Great Gatsby
For many readers, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s masterpiece The Great Gatsby is the great American novel. Thought of as a commercial failure upon first publication, the book now sells more copies in one year than it did in the author’s lifetime, and its critical reputation only continues to grow. And though it may possess the most singularly iconic book cover of any novel (see below), Gatsby and Daisy have appeared elsewhere in a variety of guises on book covers throughout the world.
Top: What must be the most iconic book jacket of all time, illustration by Francis Cugat, who was commissioned while Fitzgerald was still in the midst of writing the novel. American readers will struggle to remember any cover other than this one (except maybe the recent movie tie-in edition) as it has been reused and repurposed for nearly every paperback printing by its publisher Scribner’s. Of course, the face here is not Gatsby’s but that of his beloved obsession, Daisy Buchanan.
Second Row: Portrait of F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Scribner’s current iteration of the cover (right), complete with Jazz Age Art Deco lettering.
Third Row: Daisy Buchanan has inspired many, if not most, of the novel’s covers—here are three further examples, again done in Art Deco-style, including the current German edition (left), Oxford Worlds Classics (middle), and Wordsworth Classics (right) paperbacks.
Fourth Row: Three covers pairing a flapper styled woman and a dapper dressed gentleman, obviously meant to evoke Daisy and Gatsby, which includes French publisher Le Livre de pouche’s edition (left), and two from Penguin UK’s Modern Classics imprint, the “silver band” (middle) and the current edition in print (right).
Fifth Row: Here we have three covers featuring Gatsby solo, more or less, an earlier Penguin edition (left) where the gentleman in profile bears a striking resemblance to F. Scott Fitzgerald; a current French edition (middle), which does away with the adjective “Great”; and a tie-in edition for the 1949 noir-tinged film version (right), starring Alan Ladd and Betty Field.
Sixth Row: Gatsby’s car, which plays a pivotal role in the novel’s denouement, figures prominently on this trio of covers, including the current Italian edition (left), the current Spanish edition (center), and the UK’s Everyman paperback (right).
Bottom Row: “[T]hose gleaming, dazzingly parties of his were with me so vividly that I could still hear the music and the laughter, faint and incessant, from his garden…” Those legendarily glamourous affairs at Gatsby’s West Egg Mansion inspire these last few covers.
As much as I love Penguin books, there are times when I end up buying cheaper versions of the same classics by other publishers such as Collins Classics or, as featured in this photo, Wordsworth classics.
With deep devotion, Nature, did I feel,
In that enormous City’s turbulent world
Of men and things, what benefit I owed
To thee, and those domains of rural peace,
Where to the sense of beauty first my heart
I wandered lonely as a cloud That floats on high o'er vales and hills, When all at once I saw a crowd, A host, of golden daffodils; Beside the lake, beneath the trees, Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine And twinkle on the milky way, They stretched in never-ending line Along the margin of a bay: Ten thousand saw I at a glance, Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they Out-did the sparkling waves in glee: A poet could not but be gay, In such a jocund company: I gazed—and gazed—but little thought What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie In vacant or in pensive mood, They flash upon that inward eye Which is the bliss of solitude; And then my heart with pleasure fills, And dances with the daffodils.
March 20th 2016 • 11h09
I am still feeling terrible and I wish I could take another day off from all the studying but I can’t. So today I’m going to try to read as much of Mrs Dalloway as possible. That’s my main focus for today. I have 4 weeks left to finish reading V. Woolf (I have 4 books left to read: Mrs Dalloway, Night and Day, The Years and Three Guineas) and write my dissertation so I really need to hurry up. I also have 2 other papers to write and 2 exams to study for + 2 oral exams. I need to stay focused. Ugh. I wish I could just sleep it off.