Tracking down the best covers of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Unfortunately, the brilliant art deco style design above is not commercially available. It’s a fan work by Aled Lewis, and one of many amazing entries in a “re-covered books” challenge on The Fox is Black. Check it out (and if you happen to work high up enough in the publishing industry, get this man a steady stream of cover commissions already!)
Happily, there are no shortage of great covers already on the market. Here are some of our favourites.
The original cover art, featuring a gigantic disembodied face (representing both Daisy Buchanan and a prominent billboard in the novel) remains one of literature’s biggest visual icons. Francis Cugat finished the painting before F. Scott Fitzgerald had completed the novel, compelling the author to reference it in the text.
“Unlike Gatsby and Tom Buchanan, I had no girl whose disembodied face floated along the dark cornices and blinding signs, and so I drew up the girl beside me, tightening my arms. Her wan, scornful mouth smiled, and so I drew her up again closer, this time to my face.”
This image has been kept alive with frequent reuse. Popular paperback and hardcover editions both feature the original artwork. In fact, if you’re feeling brave, it’s not impossible to find a good deal on a first edition via ebay.
Bickford-Smith covered the the entire F. Scott Fitzgerald library for Penguin Hardback Classics.
When it comes to imagery, many take on the difficult task of capturing the vividly-described beauty of Daisy.
This 1998 Essential Penguin paperback edition absolutely nails it by giving us only a fleeting glimpse of Daisy’s features, leaving her face in the imagination where it belongs.
That said, I have a soft spot for Penguin’s recent mass market edition (admittedly owing more to the broader range’s monochrome shine and beautiful use of the Avant Garde font).