Sunday, March 15, 2015


My girlfriend’s fixation on the Great Gatsby took us to Sands Point and the Howard Gould estate on Long Island.  It became obvious how F. Scott Fitzgerald came to the device of a pedestrian accident.  It is just hilly and winding enough to encourage adventurous driving.
It also confirmed my initial premise on reading the book that Gatsby is Jewish.  Fitzgerald’s new money/old money is an obvious McGuffin.  If money has any sense at all it respects money.  Old money is happy to accommodate new money and that is one of the many ways it survives. The bootlegging device is also specious.  Many of the wealthy made some investments in this profitable enterprise.
Visiting Hempstead house and hearing of the Gould’s who inspired Fitzgerald’s story it becomes clear that the one great social sin was being Jewish and not knowing your place. The Gould’s and Gatsby are yet more examples of the tragic mulatto. They didn’t see themselves as Jewish and they could not have acceptance as WASPs.
 Fitzgerald may have felt that he lacked the ability or qualifications to do the story justice. Or perhaps as the great script doctor that he was, recognized that the story lacked broad appeal. He was correct.  The almost pornographic old money/new money device is the emotional underpinning for the story. Everyone has that sense of being the new kid at school and the idea that the wealthy would continue these fruitless distinctions is comforting.
Antisemitism was real however. I think Daisy works better as a passing Jew as well. 
The working definition of old money is inherited wealth and a social support system.  This definition would include Donald Trump.

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