Banning books is something that has been around for thousands of years and continues today. When society doesn’t like what is in a book, it decides no one is allowed to read it. That is when the book gets banned.
Many of the banned books are ones we consider classic works of literature. They are revered for the timeless messages and entertainment. Yet they are the very ones that groups have deemed dangerous. In this article, we will discuss a banned book — The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
The Great Gatsby
by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Originally Published — 1925
The story of the fabulously wealthy Jay Gatsby and his love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan, of lavish parties on Long Island at a time when, The New York Times remarked, “gin was the national drink and sex the national obsession,” (from Amazon)
Born in St. Paul Minnesota in 1896, Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald had his first piece published when he was 13 years old in the school newspaper. From there he continued to develop his writing through college where he was published in the Princeton newspapers/magazines. From there he joined the army and took up a career in advertising. A few years later his first novel was published, This Side of Paradise. Short stories and one more novel followed. It was when Fitzgerald moved to France that he wrote The Great Gatsby. Fitzgerald struggled the rest of his life in his marriage, in his health, and in his career.
History Behind the Book
The book is set in the 1920s. It was a wild time of parties and money when laws banning alcohol “made millionaires out of bootleggers and the social elite lived an exceedingly extravagant lifestyle.” (http://bannedbooks.world.edu/2012/11/25/banned-books-awareness-the-great-gatsby/) It opened the door to a world that was lived but not really written about nor discussed. The drinking, the parties, and the times were lived but kept quiet. It was considered bad form to talk about such a wild lifestyle as it drifted too far from overall accepted society behavior.
What was the world like when the book was published? This was a very strange world compared to what we live in now. Different subjects were in the center of the public’s eye. Here is a quick rundown of the culture at the time.
President: Calvin Coolidge
Economy: Booming until the end of the decade when it all came crashing down. It was the era of drinking and dancing — The Roaring Twenties.
World: The first great war that swept across the Western world had ended the decade before.
Science: refrigerators, radios, televisions, toasters,
Literature: James Joyce, Ulysses
Autobiography of Mark Twain
Politics: This was a period of intense Communism suspicion. Everyone was fearing everyone else. Wars were increasing and affecting more of the world than before. The unrest in the rest of the world led to unrest within America with strikes and riots popping up across the nation.
The Great Gatsby was mostly banned due to the the language and wild living it portrayed. Within its pages were people sleeping together who were not married. It was not acceptable to the public at large. It has language that was shocking the era it was written. Certain swear words were never used in public nor in the presence of women. Unlike today, you wouldn’t have heard those four letter words in polite society: “There are a few “damns” and “hells;” and the occasional “son-of-a-bitch,” but that’s about it.” (http://bannedbooks.world.edu/2012/11/25/banned-books-awareness-the-great-gatsby/) In today’s world, those words aren’t much to get up in arms over as they are spoken by public figures and in the classroom. Even back in the days the story was written, the language was not unspoken.