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Handwritten Great Gatsby Manuscript Unveils Surprising Revisions
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Handwritten Great Gatsby Manuscript Unveils Surprising Revisions

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Updated: 5 January 2018
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s perennially-read 1925 masterpiece The Great Gatsby has inspired such fervor in readers over the years that, besides numerous film adaptations, its setting of West Egg (in reality the town of Great Neck in Long Island) has become a popular site of pilgrimage.

Now Gatsby devotees can read the original manuscript of the novel, in Fitzgerald’s own handwriting, courtesy of French publisher Editions des Saints Pères, who are issuing 1,800 facsimiles for $249 apiece, with Fitzgerald’s original notes and corrections and with an essay by Baz Luhrmann, who adapted the novel into his 2013 film version of The Great Gatsby with Leonardo DiCaprio as the titular Jay Gatsby.

Courtesy SP Books
Courtesy SP Books

The publishers have previously issued handwritten editions by Gustave Flaubert, Jules Verne, and Victor Hugo — but Gatsby is bound to be their masterstroke. Besides coming in a slate gray slipcase and an Art Deco cover design, buyers will discover telling discrepancies between the holograph manuscript and the book-as-published. Daisy’s name is given as “Ada,” while narrator Nick Carraway’s name was changed (for the better) from “Dud.” Jay Gatsby’s preferred term of endearment “old sport” is used more judiciously, appearing only four times in the text, and the memorable green light that Jay Gatsby admires from the docks was meant, in the earlier format, to be two distinct green lights.

Courtesy SP books
Courtesy SP books

Just as interesting as the “deleted scenes” of the manuscript, which is sourced from Princeton University’s library, are Fitzgerald’s editorial marks, which amend evidence of Nick’s culpability for Daisy’s adultery and Gatsby’s parting words to Nick at the former’s funeral, wherein he can be heard to say: “Don’t let it worry you, old sport,” are inscribed over the earlier draft’s farewell of “I’m all right now, thank you. Good bye.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald
F. Scott Fitzgerald | © WikiCommons

SP Books, who are issuing similar editions for Mary Shelley and Oscar Wilde in 2018, describe their process as similar to art restoration, saying that “we want you to feel like Fitzgerald [or any other author] has personally given you his notebook,” and Lurhman writes in his essay that the new publication, nearly 100 years after first landing on bookshelves, will keep Gatsby’s green light “blinking out there in the darkness, at the end of Daisy’s dock, inspiring readers of this generation and many more to follow their incorruptible dreams.

Through access to the author’s thought process and last-minute alterations, readers will have the means to experience the timeless power of The Great Gatsby anew.