Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Gatsby: Glorious & Misunderstood

My main Literature task for this June holidays is to work on my A. Lit SIA thesis paper.

And I chose to include The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald in my analysis of the American Dream, squeezing it into the thousand-word limit simply because I am hopelessly in love with this novel. So much that I strongly advocated for the protagonist of our Herstory task to be Daisy Buchanan, a shallow but interesting woman.

Normally after intensely studying a text, I tend to tire of it. However, after deconstructing Gatsby layer by layer and reading countless of online journals and analyses (including Sparknotes!), I am all the more in love with it.

Today, I'm here to talk about the cover, which I didn't like at first. But, after reading the story in its entirety, I am beyond impressed by the artist's construal. I went to search him up and turns out, there was little known about him, the Spanish artist Francis Cugat.

This cover encapsulates the essence of the novel perfectly. The tale takes place in the gaudy, luxurious Roaring Twenties, but the fate of Jay Gatsby is cruel and sad. The cover, evocative of the sad demise of Gatsby and the surreal excess of the era, is a timeless interpretation of the  story. 

When I was surfing the net in search of explanations regarding the cover, I chanced upon a remarkable article on the eyes on the cover by Charles Scribner III. Quoting Scribner, 

"Cugat’s rendition is not illustrative, but symbolic, even iconic: the sad, hypnotic, heavily outlined eyes of a woman beam like headlights through a cobalt night sky. Their irises are transfigured into reclining female nudes. From one of the eyes streams a green luminescent tear; brightly rouged lips complete the sensual triangle."

Cugat had designed the cover before Fitzgerald completed his book and Fitzgerald actually maintained that he had “written it (the cover) into” the book. I would think this probably refers to the symbolic billboard eyes of Dr. T. J. Eckleburg.

I'd be eagerly anticipating the covers that the publishers have in store for us in the newer editions of Gatsby to come. 

With the 2013 film adaptation in theaters, some recent printings of the book have abandoned the classic cover in favor of one that ties in more closely with the film, with Leondardo DiCaprio plastered over the cover. Scribner himself has expressed that he likes the cover, ”I confess to liking the Leonardo DiCaprio cover, too (the new movie tie-in). I would not be ashamed to be seen reading it on the subway, but then I’m a Gemini.” 

Well, so am I. And Leonardo DiCaprio is hot.

Good links: