With The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald made a conscious departure from the writing process of his previous novels. He started planning it in June 1922, after completing his play The Vegetable and began composing The Great Gatsby in 1923. He ended up discarding most of it as a false start, some of which resurfaced in the story "Absolution". Unlike his previous works, Fitzgerald intended to edit and reshape Gatsby thoroughly, believing that it held the potential to launch him toward literary acclaim. He told his editor Maxwell Perkins that the novel was a "consciously artistic achievement" and a "purely creative work — not trashy imaginings as in my stories but the sustained ...view middle of the document...
The Fitzgeralds then moved to Rome for the winter. Fitzgerald made revisions through the winter after Perkins informed him that the novel was too vague and Gatsby's biographical section too long. Content after a few rounds of revision, Fitzgerald returned the final batch of revised galleys in the middle of February 1925.
Original cover art
The cover of The Great Gatsby is among the most celebrated pieces of art in American literature. It depicts disembodied eyes and a mouth over a blue skyline, with the image of a naked woman reflected in the irises. A little-known artist named Francis Cugat was commissioned to illustrate the book while Fitzgerald was in the midst of writing it. The cover was completed before the novel, with Fitzgerald so enamored of it that he told his publisher he had "written it into" the novel.
Fitzgerald's remarks about incorporating the painting into the novel led to the interpretation that the eyes are reminiscent of those of Dr. T. J. Eckleburg (the novel's erstwhile optometrist on a faded commercial billboard near George Wilson's auto repair shop) which Fitzgerald described as "blue and gigantic — their retinas are one yard high. They look out of no face, but instead, from a pair of enormous yellow spectacles which pass over a non-existent nose." Although this passage has some resemblance to the painting, a closer explanation can be found in the description of Daisy Buchanan as the "girl whose disembodied face floated along the dark cornices and blinding signs".
Ernest Hemingway recorded in A Moveable Feast that when Fitzgerald lent him a copy of The Great Gatsby to read, he immediately disliked the cover, but "Scott told me not to be put off by it, that it had to do with a billboard along a highway in Long Island that was important in the story. He said he had liked the jacket and now he didn't like it."
Fitzgerald was ambivalent about the title, making it hard for him to choose. He entertained many choices before settling on The Great Gatsby. Fitzgerald shifted between Gatsby; Among Ash-Heaps and Millionaires; Trimalchio; Trimalchio in West Egg; On the Road to West Egg; Under the Red, White, and Blue; Gold-Hatted Gatsby and The High-Bouncing Lover. Initially, he preferred Trimalchio, after the crude parvenu in Petronius's Satyricon. Unlike Fitzgerald's protagonist, Trimalchio participated in the audacious and libidinous orgies that he hosted. That Fitzgerald refers to Gatsby by the proposed title once in the novel reinforces the view that it would have been a misnomer. As Tony Tanner observed, there are subtle similarities between the two. A notable difference between Trimalchio and The Great Gatsby is a less complete failure of Gatsby's dream in Trimalchio. In Trimalchio, the argument between Tom Buchanan and Jay Gatsby is much more even, although Tom still wins in that Daisy returns to him.
On November 7, 1924, Fitzgerald wrote to Perkins. — "I have now decided to stick...