Like the novel itself, the epigraph of The Great Gatsby has achieved mythic status.
Then wear the gold hat, if that will move her;
If you can bounce high, bounce for her too,
Till she cry “Lover, gold-hatted, high-bouncing lover,
I must have you!”
- Thomas Parke D’Invilliers
Who was Thomas Parke D’Invilliers? First appearing in This Side of Paradise, he is the poet-companion of Amory Blaine and carried the epithet “that awful highbrow.” Here, on the title page of Fitzgerald’s third novel, D’Invilliers provides paratextual poetry. Custom expects real authors to provide epigraphs. His signed epigraph reverses what we understood him to be when we first met him.
According to the general editor of the Cambridge Fitzgerald Edition, Professor James L.W. West III “… several times during his life, F. Scott Fitzgerald received queries from people who wanted to quote that epigraph. They wanted to know who T. P. D’Invilliers was, so they could seek permission. But I have never seen, am not aware of, any document in which Fitzgerald says that T.P. D’Invilliers is a fictional character, and that he wrote that epigraph himself.”
A recent gift of a presentation copy of The Great Gatsby provides documentary evidence of what has long been assumed regarding Fitzgerald’s authorship of the epigraph. Moreover, this copy has an added attraction. The presentation inscription is the autograph original of a Fitzgerald poem.
“From Scott Fitzgerald / (Of doom a herald) / To Horace McCoy / (no harbinger of joy)
Horace McCoy was a novelist and near contemporary of Fitzgerald. McCoy is best known for his novel They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (1935).
The gift is a legacy to the Library from the Lawrence D. Stewart Living Trust. Prof. Stewart purchased the book in an California bookstore and published his findings in 1957 —- Lawrence D. Stewart, “Scott Fitzgerald D’Invilliers,” American Literature, XXIX (May 1957), 212-213. [Stable URL http://www.jstor.org/stable/2922109.] His article did not reproduce the signed title page nor the autograph presentation.