Murder, Mayhem, and the Invention of The Great Gatsby

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1921 (Wikimedia Commons)

The autumn of 1922, F. Scott Fitzgerald returned to New York for the publication of his fourth book, Tales of the Jazz Age. The Fitzgeralds’ arrival coincided with another event: the discovery of a brutal double murder in nearby New Jersey, a crime made all the more horrible by the police investigation—which failed to accomplish anything beyond generating enormous publicity for the newfound celebrity participants. The Mills-Hall murder has been wholly forgotten today, but the enormous impact of this bizarre crime can still be seen in The Great Gatsby. Sarah Churchwell combines a forensic search for clues to an unsolved crime and an examination of the roots of America’s best loved novel in her book Careless People: Murder, Mayhem, and the Invention of The Great Gatsby.

Director Baz Luhrmann's film adaptation of The Great Gatsby was released last summer.


Sarah Churchwell

Comments [2]

tom from astoria

The main idea for Anna Karenina was also inspired by a real life story from the papers -- an upper class woman who threw herself under a train.

Jun. 17 2014 12:58 PM
tom from astoria

I appreciate how Fitzgerald cast the poor ash-coveredneighborhood by the railroad tracks -- which is long island city, as Astoria, which allowed him to have the "Astor" name attached.
And talk about crimes: How about the recent development, tearing out of the old plaster-decorated rooms of the Plaza Hotel, where two key scenes take place in the Great Gatsby

Jun. 17 2014 12:52 PM

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