Fun fact! At the start of each new year, thousands of U.S. copyrights expire. As we all rang in 2021 a couple of weeks ago, every single work published in 1925 subsequently entered the public domain—most notably, perhaps, the acclaimed classic The Great Gatsby.
About the Work
Frequently spotted in high school English courses or on “classic books” lists, The Great Gatsby has been a staple 20th century American novel for nearly 100 years. Penned by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the work is a window into the social life of 1920s America—complete with jazz music, glamorous flappers, bootlegging, and speakeasies—while also a reflection of the life of the author.
Both mesmerized and repulsed by this “Jazz Age” (a term which he helped coin), Fitzgerald drew upon themes which he perceived in society in order to round out the tragedy:
- Disillusionment in young people following the devastation of World War I, resulting in an excess of cynicism and pursuit of pleasure
- A post-war economic surge, leading to a sharp increase in personal wealth and materialism (which would all come to a crashing halt with the Great Depression in the next decade)
- Tension between “old money”—long-wealthy aristocratic American families—and “new money” (recently wealthy people who achieved success regardless of their social background).
- Unrequited love due to lack of financial success and social standing
- Controversy surrounding the passage of the Eighteenth Amendment (the prohibition of alcohol), fostering widespread underground rebellion
Often considered an allegory for the idealized and unattainable American dream, Gatsby’s obsession with Daisy Buchanan has become a timeless tale that many consider to be “the Great American Novel.”
However, though often packed into a dazzling setting, the narrative surprisingly failed to dazzle during Fitzgerald’s lifetime. Literary critics offered mixed reviews, and the book only sold about 20,000 copies in its first release.
Some thought the novel indicated the end of Fitzgerald’s success, but after his death two decades later, it became slightly more popular, particularly among soldiers in World War II. Subsequently, the novel re-emerged in scholarly discussions across the nation, and the consensus that it might actually be one of the greatest novels ever written soon prevailed.
Find Gatsby in HeinOnline
It was a Happy New Year indeed when this seminal contribution to American literature was released from copyright on January 1, 2021. As such, we are pleased to announce that users can turn to HeinOnline to immerse themselves in the work. Attend one of Gatsby’s soirées, wander through the valley of ashes with Nick Carroway, or gaze at that lonely green light across the bay, all within the HeinOnline interface.
To get started, navigate to HeinOnline’s Legal Classics Library, a collection of thousands of works from some of the greatest minds in history. In the browse-by options at the top of the page, browse by the letter “G” or perform a full-text search for the book’s title.
Select the Great Gatsby entry to view the full title in HeinOnline in an image-based PDF format, providing the authority of print along with the convenience found in our online research platform. For example, with just a click, jump around through the various chapters of the work, print or download a portion of the text, bookmark a page, or perform a full-text search to quickly locate a favorite quote.
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