Wilson's essay examines The Great Gatsby's depiction, displacement, and appropriation of the urban tabloid journalism of its day. By offering a direct look at the rhetorical forms and visual cues of the tabloids surrounding F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel—and in particular the “intermedial” strategies that were designed to mobilize readers to engage news stories and insert themselves in such tales—this essay argues that Fitzgerald's reenvisioning of tabloid culture permeates both his aesthetic technique and Nick Carraway's attempts to provide an account of the scandalous “death car” crime at the heart of the book. Rather than competing with the novel's modernist form, mass culture therefore helps to constitute it: suffusing Fitzgerald's account of popular reading, shaping the text's experimental use of background and foreground, and ultimately complicating the portrait of Jay Gatsby's criminality. In the end, these tabloid shadows allow us to challenge the recent revisionist arguments about the corporate and Fordist character of Gatsby's gangsterhood, and to reassess Fitzgerald's contribution to the form of vernacular modernism we now call American noir.
Christopher P. Wilson; “He Fell Just Short of Being News”: Gatsby's Tabloid Shadows. American Literature 1 March 2012; 84 (1): 119–149. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00029831-1540968
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