F. Scott Fitzgerald’s holograph of The Great Gatsby, the author’s full-length manuscript draft of his celebrated third novel, has been published by Cambridge University Press in a scholarly edition: The Great Gatsby: An Edition of the Manuscript, Cambridge Edition of the Works of F. Scott Fitzgerald (2018), co-edited by James L. W. West III, Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of English, Emeritus, Pennsylvania State University (who is general editor of the series); and Don C. Skemer, Curator of Manuscripts, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University Library. The edition includes a reading text of the holograph, as well as West’s introduction, Skemer’s bibliographical commentary, and many illustrations. Close reading of the handwritten text and a thorough analysis of physical evidence reveals much about the author’s working methods, chronology of composition, and revision and restructuring of his classic novel. In this most creative period in his life, Fitzgerald found the literary inspiration and self-discipline to produce a masterpiece that now sells hundreds of thousands of copies each year, almost a century after its first publication. Skemer’s commentary also traces the manuscript’s survival and explains how key Princeton faculty and librarians worked so tirelessly with the Fitzgerald estate to gather the author’s voluminous papers and provide a permanent home for them in the Library’s Manuscripts Division, beginning in 1943.
This book will allow critics, teachers, and students of literature to study The Great Gatsby as a fluid text. Here published for the first time is Fitzgerald’s manuscript text of 1924, begun in Great Neck, Long Island, and completed on the French Riviera, months before he would revise his text still further in the Trimalchio galleys. The novel evolved steadily from the author’s original conception (1922) to its final published form (1925). Sarah Graham, Lecturer in American Literature at the University of Leicester, notes in her review of the Cambridge edition, Times Literary Supplement (17 August 2018): “Like a jazz album offering multiple takes on a single tune, the value of this edition lies in the access it offers to the creative process. Comparing the novel published in April 1925 reveals the decisions Fitzgerald made as he revised his greatest work and supplies fascinating insights into its evolution….Seeing The Great Gatsby as it might have been shows that Fitzgerald’s drive for perfection matched that of his beloved hero.”
The Cambridge Edition of the Works of F. Scott Fitzgerald is a multi-volume edition of Fitzgerald’s collected works. The Cambridge edition was launched in the late 1980s under the general editorship of Matthew J. Bruccoli, with the approval of the Fitzgerald Literary Trust. The edition is based on the comprehensive collection of Fitzgerald’s manuscripts, typescripts, proofs, correspondence, and other papers in the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections. Princeton also holds the archives of Charles Scribner’s Sons, Fitzgerald’s publisher, including the author’s extensive correspondence with his legendary editor Maxwell Perkins. Each volume of the Cambridge edition includes an introduction, authoritative texts, lists of emendations and variants, illustrations, and historical annotations. Bruccoli edited the first two volumes: The Great Gatsby (1991) and the retitled The Love of the Last Tycoon: A Western (1993). James L. W. West III succeeded Bruccoli as general editor in 1994 and continues in that position. The edition will include eighteen volumes when complete, including all five novels, about 165 short stories, and works of nonfiction, drama, and poetry. The present book is the seventeenth volume in the Cambridge edition; the eighteenth and final volume, a variorum edition of The Great Gatsby, is being prepared for publication (2019).
For more information about this and other volumes, go to the Cambridge University Press website. Digital images of the holograph and other Fitzgerald manuscripts are available online in the Digital Princeton University Library (DPUL).