The Great Gatsby

Cover art

The cover of the first printing of The Great Gatsby is among the most celebrated pieces of art in American literature.[39] It depicts disembodied eyes and a mouth over a blue skyline, with images of naked women reflected in the irises. A little-known artist named Francis Cugat was commissioned to illustrate the book while Fitzgerald was in the midst of writing it.[39] The cover was completed before the novel; Fitzgerald was so enamored with it that he told his publisher he had "written it into" the novel.[39] Fitzgerald's remarks about incorporating the painting into the novel led to the interpretation that the eyes are reminiscent of those of fictional optometrist Dr. T. J. Eckleburg[40] (depicted on a faded commercial billboard near George Wilson's auto repair shop) which Fitzgerald described as "blue and gigantic – their retinas[note 2] are one yard high. They look out of no face, but instead, from a pair of enormous yellow spectacles which pass over a non-existent nose." Although this passage has some resemblance to the painting, a closer explanation can be found in the description of Daisy Buchanan as the "girl whose disembodied face floated along the dark cornices and blinding signs."[39] Ernest Hemingway wrote in A Moveable Feast that when Fitzgerald lent him a copy of The Great Gatsby to read, he immediately disliked the cover, but "Scott told me not to be put off by it, that it had to do with a billboard along a highway in Long Island that was important in the story. He said he had liked the jacket and now he didn't like it."[41]

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