On Monday, Maureen Corrigan spoke to Fresh Air about her book, So We Read On: How The Great Gatsby Came To Be and Why It Endures. When Gatsby was published in 1925 it was a flop, but World War II turned that around. In fact, the Atlantic just published an article about the Armed Services Editions—books that were given to soldiers to keep in their uniform pockets so they had something to read to take their mind off of the death and destruction.
Here’s what Yoni Appelbaum of Atlantic says:
Some of the selections [for the Armed Services Editions] were idiosyncratic. In 1945, Council picked out an older novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald that had never achieved popular success. It sold just 120 copies the previous year, and another 33 in 1945 before going out of print. The 155,000 copies of The Great Gatsby that they shipped out to the troops dwarfed all its previous print runs combined. Buoyed by that exposure, it would go on to become one of the great publishing successes of the 20th century.
Learn more about Gatsby’s incredible revival here.