Under the Red, White and Blue was the title that author F. Scott Fitzgerald ultimately wanted to name his classic American novel, The Great Gatsby.

He was never satisfied with the titles for his novel. Initially, he titled the work "Among the Ash Heaps and Millionaires", referring to the symbolic contrast of the industrial wasteland that is The Valley of Ashes and the two ultra-upper class geographical bodies surrounding the Valley, the East and West Eggs. "On the Road to West Egg" was another tentative consideration based on the importance of the geography of the novel. "Trimalchio in West Egg" and "Trimalchio" were two other rejected titles. Trimalchio was an entertainer in The Satyricon by Petronius that threw ridiculously wild parties, hence bringing the parallel with Jay Gatsby and his own Roaring Twenties style parties. Two more failed attempts at titles, "Gold-hatted Gatsby" and "The High-bouncing Lover", were much closer to the title it ended up with. These ones drew the attention to the actual persona of the astoundingly rich and romantically hopeful Gatsby.

It is no surprise Fitzgerald changed speculative titles so many times- He wrote seventeen drafts of the classic before being satisfied! I guess those grade school English teachers might have been onto something when they told me not to turn in my rough drafts...

On March 19, 1925, Fitzgerald sent a telegram to his publisher:


However, that was three weeks before publication. The title we know today was already in print and ready to go. To change the title of a classic novel would require tremendous effort while likely angering many and satisfying few.

Under the Red, White, and Blue would be a fitting title to the novel, regardless. The American Dream and the hopelessness of achieving it are already interpreted to be major themes of the novel. It would take some emphasis off the greatness of Gatsby, his gift of "infinite hope", and his doomed fate while consequently placing it on the hideous Americana obsession of accumulating wealth and the conspiratory attitudes of those immersed by it. Gatsby's tragedy would have less emphasis as the novel would be more of a social critique of American society.

Source: Fitzgerald, F. Scott and Matthew J. Bruccoli. The Great Gatsby. New York, NY: Macmillan Publishing Company.

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