With The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald made a conscious departure from the writing process of his previous novels. He started planning it in June 1922, after completing his play The Vegetable and began composing The Great Gatsby in 1923. He ended up discarding most of it as a false start, some of which resurfaced in the story "Absolution". Unlike his previous works, Fitzgerald intended to edit and reshape Gatsby thoroughly, believing that it held the potential to launch him toward literary acclaim. He told his editor Maxwell Perkins that the novel was a "consciously artistic achievement" and a "purely creative work — not trashy imaginings as in my stories but the sustained imagination of a sincere and yet radiant world". He added later, during editing, that he felt "an enormous power in me now, more than I've ever had".
After the birth of their child, the Fitzgeralds moved to Great Neck, Long Island in October 1922, a setting used as the scene for The Great Gatsby. Fitzgerald's neighbors in Great Neck included such prominent and newly wealthy New Yorkers as writer Ring Lardner, actor Lew Fields and comedian Ed Wynn. These figures were all considered to be 'new money', unlike those who came from Manhasset Neck or Cow Neck Peninsula, places which were home to many of New York's wealthiest established families, and which sat across a bay from Great Neck. This real-life juxtaposition gave Fitzgerald his idea for "West Egg" and "East Egg." In this novel, Great Neck became the new-money peninsula of "West Egg" and Manhasset the old-money peninsula of "East Egg".
Class inequality and 'the gospel of wealth' – in tackling such issues F Scott Fitzgerald's masterpiece has never been more relevant.
Caitlin Moser's insight:
One theme of The Great Gatsby is the decay of the American Dream. Is it possible? What has the American Dream come to mean today? How is it different from what it was for our ancestors who settled this land?
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