The Great Gatsby


F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940)

 In the early 1920s, Fitzgerald was known primarily as a satirical novelist, and Gatsby is in large part a satire of modern America, as its first readers clearly saw. “It is doubtful whether richer satire on our bootlegging, jazzing, wasting age, is being written,” declared the Chicago Daily News on May 27 1925.  

One reason Fitzgerald decided to set his novel of modern America in 1922 (he wrote it over 1923 and 1924) is that he wanted to signal his allegiance to the annus mirabilis of literary modernism, the year that began with the publication of James Joyce’s Ulysses and ended with the publication of T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land

Fitzgerald’s original title for his novel was “Among the Ash Heaps and Millionaires”: he always conceived it as a novel about inequality, and the ash heaps were a perfect symbol of modern American waste and desolation. 


Sarah Churchwell

Professor Sarah Churchwell is the Chair of Public Understanding of the Humanities and a Professorial Fellow in American Literature at the University of London’s School of Advanced Study.  She is also a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and the author of Careless People: Murder, Mayhem, and the Invention of The Great Gatsby (2013).

In the Orson essays she answers questions like the meaning of the green light, and in her lecture shorts she covers contemporary readers' reactions, Tom Buchanan's racism, and whether or not Jay Gatsby was really "great".


Shawn Carter Peterson

Shawn graduated cum laude from Vassar College with a dual degree in Drama and Africana Studies. His appearances on television have included ABC's Castle,  FOX’s House, and CBS’ How I Met Your Mother. He has shared the silver screen with Miley Cyrus and Faye Dunaway and most recently appeared in Pitch Perfect 2 and Please Come with Me.

He is married to the soul singer, Sy Smith.

Key features

86 images, including magazine covers from the months during which the story is set

8 music tracks, including songs referenced in the chapters

8 lecture shorts featuring Sarah Churchwell

8 essay answers to commonly asked questions


Orson publication date: 2016

File size: 771 MB

Original publication date: 1925

Original edition publisher US: Scribner

Editor: Lauren Murray