When Critics Miss The Point

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For Slate, Cristina Hartmann explains how The Great Gatsby went from a marginal publication to a central part of America’s literary canon. According to Hartmann, much of the novel’s early struggles emerged from criticism that misrepresented Fitzgerald’s satirical position, as critics stood too close to a cultural moment:

Fitzgerald’s contemporaries were unable to see the novel for what it was—biting satire of the hypocrisy of the profligate Jazz Age—because they were in the thick of it. Sometimes zeitgeist works aren’t recognized as such until we have sufficient distance and time to appreciate the time period and its cultural significance.


Jake Slovis earned his MFA in Writing from Rutgers University, where he now teaches English Composition. He is a second-generation Argentine American and has spent significant time living and writing in Buenos Aires. He currently resides in Brooklyn. More from this author →