The Dust Jacket of The Great Gatsby

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The Dust Jacket of The Great Gatsby

The dust jacket of The Great Gatsby has an extremely complex yet influential relationship to its text as well as its author. Francis Cugat, the artist of the cover, developed the painting through a series of ten sketches[1]. In each sketch he develops a new element of the painting which indicates the level of complexity in the final work. Interestingly, Fitzgerald never mentions the artist’s name in his correspondents with his editor Maxwell Perkins[2]. However, he does admit that it has a direct influence on the novel. In a correspondence written from France (estimated to have been written around august 17, 1924) Fitzgerald implores, “for Christ sake don’t give anyone that jacket you’re saving for me, I’ve written it into the book”[3]. Moreover, Fitzgerald claims to have finalized the novel on November 14, 1924. This ambiguous letter leaves the reader to seek out the influence of the painting on the novel.

The different elements of the painting on the dusk jacket appear to emerge in different parts of the novel. Some critics equate the woman’s eyes to the ominous stare of Doctor T.J Ekckleburg. However, the dissimilarities between the images on the jacket of the description of the billboard imply that the Doctor was not completely inspired by the painting. Another frequently discussed connection grows out of Nick’s statement at the end of chapter five. He observes, “Unlike Gatsby and Tom Buchanan I had no girl whose disembodied face floated along the dark cornices and blinding signs”[4]. This passage is almost an exact description of the cover of the book. Furthermore, the green tear has striking similarity to the light “that burns all night” opposite the sound...

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Bruccoli, Matthew. and Duggan, Margaret. Correspondence of F. Scott Fitzgerald New York: Random House,1980

Scribner III, Charles. “Celstial Eyes” Board of Trustees USC 17 June 1998

www.sc.edu/fitzgerald/essays/eyes/eyes.html

Watson, Mary. “Visual: Jacket for the Great Gatsby” Board of Trustees USC 29 Jan 1997

www.sc.edu/Fitzgerald/facts/facts6.html#6

[1] Scribner III, Charles. “Celstial Eyes” Board of Trustees USC 17 june 1998

www.sc.edu/fitzgerald/essays/eyes/eyes.html

[2] Scribner, 1

[3] Watson, Mary. “Visual: Jacket for the Great Gatsby” Board of Trustees USC 29 Jan 1997

www.sc.edu/Fitzgerald/facts/facts6.html#6

[4] Scribner, 1

[5] Scribner, 1

[6] Scribner, 1

[7] Berman, Rob. “The Great Gatsby and the twenties” The Cambridge Companion to F. Scott Fitzgerald ed. Ruth Prigozy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002) 81

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