Book cover: The Great Gatsby

I’m due soon to see Baz Luhrmann’s version of the Great Gatsby and am trying to hold back pre-emptive criticism of the lightweights amongst the cast, compared to the Redford/Farrow menage, although that 1974 film was not without its flaws or detractors.

As a result I’ve begun a re-read of Fitzgerald’s fin-de-siecle novel. The first time round I felt that any depth of narrative was somehow diluted by the superficial melee of spoiled wealth and maniacal charlestons. So much so that I really did not care whether the protagonists lived or died – which of course they did, in larger than life ways.

In the process of my re-acquaintanceship, I was inspired to do a mock-up, book cover, featuring  porcupine quills. This was a decorative motif in the jazz age and one that conjures the novel’s disturbed, defensive creature(s) along with the consequential piercings for those that stumble upon them in various, alarming encounters.

” they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made”.

The Jazz age is in full swing, the summer has begun, New York is emptying and yet the locus of the plot is a pre-war month of love that has been and gone for 5 years. Gatsby’s flawed Faustian character has tried to hold that moment still and sells his soul to the devil in return for such a possibility

“He had come a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him”

'The Great Gatsby' - bookcover mockup design

The plot is one thing but Fitzgerald’s writing stands alone as a louche rhapsody in blue, hence the duotone shading of cobalt and champagne to illustrate this most illustrious novel

In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars.”

Postscript: And here is where I originated  the book cover  – quill design


2 thoughts on “Book cover: The Great Gatsby

  1. I saw the movie in 1974 and was bored. I found the book well-written but unexciting too. Hard to work up much sympathy for the upper classes.


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