Beginning Friday, May 17, and continuing through Saturday, June 1, 2013, the public is invited to the Firestone Library to view the original art for the dust jacket of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s first edition of The Great Gatsby. The gouache painting by Francis Cugat (1896-1981) along with a copy of the final published novel in its original dust jacket will be on view in the Rare Books and Special Collections 18th century gallery just off Firestone’s main lobby.
Thanks to the generous donation of Charles Scribner III, Class of 1973, the Princeton University Library owns this original dust jacket art. Writing for the Princeton University Library Chronicle in 1992, Scribner explained how he came by the drawings. His cousin, George Schieffelin, discovered the Cugat gouache sketch in a trash can of publishing “dead matter” and took it home. Passed down through the family, the art eventually came into the hands of Charles Scribner III, who kindly donated it along with hundreds of other books, papers, and works of art to Princeton.
According to Scribner’s research, Francis Cugat was born in Spain and raised in Cuba along with his brother, the musician and orchestra leader Xavier Cugat. Francis worked in New York City as an illustrator in the 1920s and 1930s, before moving to Hollywood. The Great Gatsby commission came in 1924, while the book was still unfinished. Originally titled “Among the Ash Heaps and Millionaires,” Fitzgerald also toyed with calling it “Trimalchio in West Egg,” “On the Road to West Egg,” and “Gold-hatted Gatsby.”
Fitzgerald liked the design Cugat proposed (for which the artist was paid $100) and wrote to his publisher, “For Christ’s sake don’t give anyone that jacket you’re saving for me. I’ve written it into the book.” Cugat called his design “Celestial Eyes.” The novel was first published with this jacket in 1925 and again in 1979 for the Scribner Library paperback edition.
This display is free and open to the public Monday to Friday 9:00 to 5:00 and weekends noon to 5:00.
The film adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby, directed by Baz Luhrmann and starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby and Carey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan, premieres this evening in New York and arrives in theaters on May 10. Thanks to the movie, the Princeton University Library and its Fitzgerald holdings—which include the original manuscript of The Great Gatsby as well as extensive correspondence and other manuscripts by F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife, Zelda—have been frequently mentioned in the news:
A recent article and accompanying video in The New York Times, ”Judging ‘Gatsby’ by Its Cover(s),” discusses various book jacket designs and their influence on sales, including the famous original cover art by Francis Cugat which is housed at Princeton.
“What Baz Luhrmann Asked Me About The Great Gatsby,” an article in The Huffington Post by James West, Professor of English at Pennsylvania State University and general editor of the Cambridge Edition of the Works of F. Scott Fitzgerald, mentions DiCaprio’s interest in Trimalchio, Fitzgerald’s early version of The Great Gatsby, and Carey Mulligan’s visit to Princeton to read letters from Fitzgerald’s first love, Ginevra King, who became an inspiration for Daisy’s character. Both the Trimalchio manuscript and Ginevra King’s letters are held at Princeton.
“What Did F. Scott Fitzgerald Think of The Great Gatsby, the Movie, in 1926? He Walked Out,” by Anne Margaret Daniel, Class of 1999, makes use of the Zelda Fitzgerald Papers at Princeton. Professor Daniel, who has taught at Princeton, the New School, New York University, and Bard College, writes frequently on the subject of the Fitzgeralds for The Huffington Post: Fitzgerald entries.
For more news coverage on the movie, the book, and Princeton’s Fitzgerald holdings, see:
The Hudson Review celebrates its 65th anniversary next month. One of the most notable and influential American literary quarterlies of the post-World War II era, it was co-founded in 1947 by Princeton graduates Frederick Morgan (Class of 1943), Joseph Bennett (Class of 1943), and William Arrowsmith (Class of 1945). Its archives, comprising 250 linear feet worth of correspondence, manuscripts, proofs, journals, and other materials, are held in Princeton University Library’s Manuscripts Division. Among the numerous prominent authors, critics, intellectuals, and translators represented in the files are Saul Bellow, Isaiah Berlin, Yves Bonnefoy, Kenneth Burke, Hayden Carruth, E. M. Cioren, T. S . Eliot, Robert Fitzgerald, Northrop Frye, Wyndham Lewis, Robert Lowell, Hugh MacDiarmid, Thomas Mann, Marianne Moore, Saint-John Perse, Sylvia Plath, Theodore Roethke, Anne Sexton, Allen Tate, William Carlos Williams, and Yvor Winters.
The Hudson Review is profiled in The Wall Street Journal this week: “The Quarterly Wins the Race” by Pia Catton.
Australian director Baz Luhrmann’s latest film, The Great Gatsby, will open the 66th Festival de Cannes in the Grand Théâtre Lumière of the Palais des Festivals on May 15, 2013.
For trailers, photographs, and more, see the Warner Bros. official site, The Great Gatsby.
During the summer of 2011, Luhrmann and several members of his production team made a research visit to the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections to view Fitzgerald’s heavily corrected autograph manuscript and galleys of The Great Gatsby, as well as related material in the F. Scott Fitzgerald Papers and other collections in the Manuscripts Division. The British actress Carey Mulligan, who plays Daisy Buchanan in the movie, also visited to view portions of the Fitzgerald Papers and in particular to meet with Don C. Skemer, Curator of Manuscripts, to discuss Fitzgerald’s relationship with Ginevra King, who served as a model for Daisy, Jay Gatsby’s lost love.
For more about the visit, including comments from Luhrmann and Mulligan, see “A Gatsby Visit.”
For more on the relationship between Fitzgerald and King, see the Princeton Alumni Weekly November 5, 2003 cover story, “Fitzgerald’s First Love: Before Scott Married Zelda” by Merrell Noden, ’78.
Also see, The Perfect Hour: The Romance of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ginevra King, His First Love (Random House, 2005) by James L. W. West, III.
The March 20th issue of the Princeton Alumni Weekly highlights the current Main Gallery exhibition, “A Republic in the Wilderness: Treasures of American History from Jamestown to Appomattox.”
“True Treasures: Two and A Half Centuries of American History Are On Display in Firestone” by W. Barksdale Maynard ’88
The exhibition is free and open to the public, and is on view in the Main Gallery of Firestone Library from February 22 through August 4, 2013, weekdays from 9 am to 4:45 pm, and weekends from noon to 5 pm.
An accompanying online exhibition, featuring selected items on display, is available at http://rbsc.princeton.edu/republic.