What is your familiarity with The Great Gatsby? Have you read it before? More than once? At different times in your life? What adaptations with The Great Gatsby have you seen?
It’s funny, The Great Gatsby is both one of those “Books That Everybody’s Read So It’s As If You Had Read Them, Too,” as well as one of those “Books You’ve Always Pretended to Have Read and Now It’s Time to Sit Down and Really Read Them,” to quote Calvino. I think the first time I encountered the novel was in my freshman year of high school in an English course. My teacher preferred to read snippets of books in the classroom and kept students engaged with movie adaptations, and it was then that I saw clips of the 2013 Great Gatsby movie. I do remember laboriously scrolling through the Sparknotes for each chapter, desperately hoping my efforts would find me prepared for our mostly short-answer quizzes. Needless to say, they did not, as the plot is winding and quite nuanced, and it's a strange kind of miracle I ended up attending college as an English major just a few years later. Once I’d made it to college, it was difficult to fess up and say that I hadn’t really read the novel growing up, as it seemed to pop up in a huge range of literary discussions. It acts as a sort of benchmark, a common cultural allusion, and my fellow English majors were hardly shy to call upon it. On January 1, 2021, The Great Gatsby officially entered the public domain, meaning that its copyright has expired. This means essentially, that any individual may use the work in any which way they choose, without restriction. An economics podcast I listen to, Planet Money, brought this fact to my attention and, just to demonstrate they could, the entire cast sat down and recorded the whole thing as an episode/audiobook, because, after all, the story is all about money. Full disclosure: I have yet to listen to their rendition, thinking it might come in handy should I fall behind on my readings, as is typical.