Poignant, penetrating, and persuasive! Gatsby is an exemplary literary/cultural study and must reading for anyone interested in literature during America’s richest literary period.
— Phillip Sipiora, editor of The Mailer Review
Few are bold enough to use the term ‘great American novel’ anymore. Fewer still are those who can make a compelling case for its application…Batchelor claims this status for The Great Gatsby, and his arguments are captivating, readable, and convincing. His embrace of didactic purpose for literature is daring, considering the disdain many critics hold for this notion…Batchelor asserts early on that Fitzgerald’s ‘inherent ambiguity enables readers to use the novel as a barometer for measuring their own lives and the culture they inhabit.’ He demonstrates how Gatsby accomplishes this feat by carrying enough intellectual freight to defy categorization and to remain relevant to American society.
— CHOICE, June 2014

In 1925, F. Scott Fitzgerald produced his third novel, a slim work for which he had high expectations. Despite such hopes, the novel received mixed reviews and lackluster sales. Over the decades, however, the reputation of The Great Gatsby has grown and millions of copies have been sold. One of the bestselling novels of all time, it is also considered one of the most significant achievements in twentieth-century fiction. But what makes Gatsby great? Why do we still care about this book more than eighty-five years after it was published? And how does Gatsby help us make sense of our own lives and times?

In Gatsby: The Cultural History of the Great American Novel, Bob Batchelor explores the birth, life, and enduring influence of The Great Gatsby—from the book’s publication in 1925 through today’s headlines filled with celebrity intrigue, corporate greed, and a roller-coaster economy. A cultural historian, Batchelor explains why and how the novel has become part of the fiber of the American ethos and an important tool in helping readers to better comprehend their lives and the broader world around them.

A “biography” of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s masterpiece, this book examines The Great Gatsby’s evolution from a nearly-forgotten 1920s time capsule to a revered cultural touchstone. Batchelor explores how this embodiment of the American Dream has become an iconic part of our national folklore, how the central themes and ideas emerging from the book—from the fulfillment of the American Dream to the role of wealth in society—resonate with contemporary readers who struggle with similar uncertainties today. By exploring the timeless elements of reinvention, romanticism, and relentless pursuit of the unattainable, Batchelor confirms the novel’s status as “The Great American Novel” and, more importantly, explains to students, scholars, and fans alike what makes Gatsby so great.