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Great Gatsby Getting Nick-Centric Prequel as Soon as Copyright Expires. Oh Joy?

Tobey Maguire, Joel Edgerton, and Elizabeth Debicki in The Great Gatsby (2013)

The U.S. copyright for F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel The Great Gatsby will expire and enter the public domain on January 1st, 2021. That means it can be freely adapted without rights issues, and therefore, just like with classics before it, spinoff, sequel, and prequel stories will be fair game. There is already one in the works, Nick by Michael Farris Smith, which will focus on the book’s narrator, Nick Carraway, and his life before West Egg and Jay Gatsby.

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For those who were blessedly spared the experience of having to read this novel in high school, The Great Gatsby is a 1925 novel about a young and mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby, who is in love with a married woman, Daisy Buchanan—the cousin of our narrator, Nick Carraway. The book is a critique of the “American Dream” and the decadence of the 1920s following the aftermath of World War I.

Despite Gatsby being the titular character, Carraway functions much like Watson in the Sherlock Holmes stories, a bridge between the audience and the character to maintain their mystery. Nick himself is a character who a lot of people read as somewhat bisexual or gay due to his relationship with Gatsby.

Michael Bourne wrote a piece “The Queering of Nick Carraway” that addressed a scene of gay subtext in the novel that hadn’t really been part of the reading of the book until the late ’70s.

All of that is interesting, but what about this planned prequel, Nick? Well, it’s already set for publication. According to The Guardian, the book will be published four days after the copyright expires in the States by Little, Brown, and Company, then in late February in the U.K.

According to the publishers, Nick Carraway will “step out of the shadows and into the spotlight,” and author Michael Farris Smith will focus on Carraway’s life before the story of The Great Gatsby begins, saying that he has always felt drawn to that character.

“His feelings on turning 30 and a decade of uncertainty before him have always rung true to my own emotions when I was the same age,” Smith said. “And I still feel that way much of the time, torn between the revelations of what we discover in life and the abandon of those same discoveries.

“The last time I read Gatsby, a few years ago, Nick stayed in my imagination and he reveals so little about himself in the story, I couldn’t help but begin to create him in my mind, and I knew the only way to get it out was to put it on the page. So I embraced the idea and dove into it with all those emotions fuelling the creation.”

This prequel may or may not be filled with queer subtext, but it is going to touch on Nick’s experiences during the trenches of World War I and “floundering in the wake of the destruction he witnessed first hand” and “on a redemptive journey that takes him from a whirlwind Paris romance – doomed from the very beginning – to the dizzying frenzy of New Orleans, rife with its own flavor of debauchery and violence” according to the official book summary.

So, it’s basically going to be a Hemmingway novel.

The nicest thing I can say about The Great Gatsby is that it is 218 pages and I think that’s neat. This prequel, which is already up for preorder, is 304 pages—a little long if you ask me, but for those Gatsby lovers out there, I’m sure this text will be something worth checking out if only to “well actually” it.

(via The Guardian, image: Warner Bros. Pictures)

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Princess Weekes
Princess (she/her-bisexual) is a Brooklyn born Megan Fox truther, who loves Sailor Moon, mythology, and diversity within sci-fi/fantasy. Still lives in Brooklyn with her over 500 Pokémon that she has Eevee trained into a mighty army. Team Zutara forever.

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