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Journal Article

“Civilization's Going to Pieces”: The Great Gatsby, Identity, and Race, From the Jazz Age to the Obama Era

Joseph Vogel
The F. Scott Fitzgerald Review
Vol. 13, No. 1 (2015), pp. 29-54
DOI: 10.5325/fscotfitzrevi.13.1.0029
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5325/fscotfitzrevi.13.1.0029
Page Count: 26
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“Civilization's Going to Pieces”: The Great Gatsby, Identity, and Race, From the Jazz Age to the Obama Era
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Abstract

With the release of Baz Luhrmann's bold and controversial adaptation of The Great Gatsby in 2013, F. Scott Fitzgerald's once-neglected story reached an unprecedented level of popularity. The film grossed a remarkable $144 million in the U.S. and $350 million worldwide. Meanwhile, the novel, already a perennial classroom favorite, reached the top of bestseller lists. From these statistics alone, one might conclude that The Great Gatsby resonates more in the Obama era than it ever did in the Jazz Age. Its remarkable popularity, however, raises the question: Why? This essay contends that its currency—both as a film and a novel—has to do with its intersectional exploration of identity. Race and ethnicity in particular have been the focus of a growing body of scholarship on Gatsby over the past two decades. This essay attempts to add to this relatively new body of work by focusing on how The Great Gatsby functions as a multi-media text in the Obama era, and speaks in strikingly familiar—and incisive—terms to the intersectional identity politics of our time..

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