Trimalchio in West Egg. Trimalchio. On the Road to West Egg. Gold-hatted Gatsby. The High-bouncing Lover. Did you have any idea that these were all batted around as alternative titles for F. Scott Fitzgerald’s now-classic third novel? In a fascinating post over on Letters of Note, we see not only Fitzgerald’s indecisiveness about what to call his book, but the insecurities that plagued him about its quality.
“I think that at last I’ve done something really my own, but how good ‘my own’ is remains to be seen… I’m tired of being the author of This Side of Paradise and I want to start over,” Fitzgerald wrote in a 1924 letter that he sent to his editor Maxwell Perkins, along with an early draft of the book. The response he received? “I think the novel is a wonder. I’m taking it home to read again and shall then write my impressions in full; — but it has vitality to an extraordinary degree, and glamour, and a great deal of underlying thought of unusual quality.”
Head over to Letters of Note to read their full exchange, which provides a rare, behind-the-scenes glimpse into how one of the greatest American novels was born.