Great Gatsby: Significance of Fitzgerald’s Title & Surprising Facts with Prof. Bernstein

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Want the inside scoop on F. Scott Fitzgeralds perspective on the title of The Great Gatsby? Stay tuned! Hi. Its Professor Bernstein and in previous episodes of my Get Into Lit series on The Great Gatsby, Ive talked a little about the title of the novel. In this very short episode, I want to call your attention to Fitzgeralds own thoughts about the title and introduce you to how you can use this information to develop an analysis of the significance of the title. So heres something you should know. Right before the novel was published, Fitzgerald sent a telegram to Maxwell Perkins, his editor, asking: “Is it too late to change title?” As one of the participants in Studio 360s “American Icons”

episode on The Great Gatsby points out, “in the end,” Fitzgerald “didnt think The Great Gatsby was a very good title and was dissatisfied with it.” Fitzgerald “went through many, many titles.” He was thinking about naming it Under the Right, White and Blue, Gold-Hatted Gatsby, High-Bouncing Lover and Among Ash Heaps and Millionaires as well as Trimalchio, which A. Scott Berg–author of Max Perkins: Editor of Genius–points out “referred to the ostentatious multimillionaire in Petronius Arbiters Satyricon, who was famous for his colossal and extravagant banquets.” I dont about you, but I love getting behind-the-scenes perspectives on writers and their process, but you can do more than just appreciate the information you learn from these glimpses into their perspective and experiences. That is, if youre writing an

essay on a novel like The Great Gatsby, you can do more than just state that these were some alternative titles. If you want to step up your level of analysis–if you want to really learn how to create your own interpretations rather than depending exclusively on the thoughts of others and then running the risk of plagiarism and keeping your interpretive muscles weak. . . You could compare the final title to one or more of the other titles that Fitzgerald was contemplating. Why is The Great Gatsby a more powerful, effective, attention-grabbing title than Under the Right, White and Blue? Or why isnt as powerful? What are the different meanings and connotations of these titles? Would Trimalchio have been a more apt title

for the novel? Why? Why not? The Great Gatsby is known as a classic work of American literature. Would naming it after a Roman novel somehow diminish this status? Why? Why not? Is the title Among Ash Heaps and Millionaires a more literal, accurate description of the novel? If so, how? Does it capture the heart of the story in the way the title The Great Gatsby does? Why? Why not? What is the function of a novels title? Whats the significance of a title? Why does a title matter? Now remember, unless your teacher or professor tells you otherwise, he or she expects you to support your analysis–to support your interpretation–with specific passages–preferably direct quotes–from the novel. So youd

contemplate questions like the ones I just posed and go through the novel looking for quotes that help you answer them. Then youd analyze these quotes in relation to your point about the title or titles. If you want to learn more about the sources I mention in this video, head over to my website and go to the Get Into LIt section. As always, if you liked this video, Id love it if you “liked” and subscribed to my channel. Im also curious. What do you think is the significance of a title? Share your thoughts in the comment box below. Okay, thats it for now. See you in the next episode of Get Into Lit. 51 00:06:25,350 –> 00:06:25,600

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