F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby has become a classic in American literature. It is taught in classes from high school to graduate school, has been adapted multiple times for film, and is lauded by many as the best singular expression of the Jazz age. But, it was not always so well received. In fact, it completely fell out of print for a period.
We recently acquired a minor rarity to accompany our first edition: the 1934 Modern Library reprint. At the time, the Modern Library was the premier publisher of inexpensive reprints of popular literary novels. Their famous Promethean trademark usually assured solid sales. But it couldn’t work its magic for The Great Gatsby, a novel of 1920’s excess that lost its glamor during the Great Depression. The Modern Library printed only 5,000 copies. After five years, the initial printing still has not sold out, and they reluctantly discontinued the title.
Our copy is unusual because it appears to have actually been sold–it lacks the “Discontinued” stamp usually found on Modern Library editions of Gatsby.