So we beat on, boats against the current, borne ceaselessly into the past.
Even though the publishers didn’t share Fitzgerald’s enthusiasm for the title, Trimalchio still makes an appearance in the novel at the beginning of Chapter 7:
“It was when curiosity about Gatsby was at its highest that the lights in his house failed to go on one Saturday night-and, as obscurely as it had begun, his career as Trimalchio was over.”
So who is Trimalchio? And what does he have to do with Gatsby?
Trimalchio, or Gaius Pompeius Trimalchio Maecenatianus, is a character in the roman novel Satyricon written by Petronius over 1,900 years ago.
In the story, Trimalchio, which means “thrice blessed”, was well-known for throwing extravagant dinner parties. During the dinner party related in the Satyricon, Trimalchio engages in grotesque displays of wealth by serving exotic dishes, such as live birds sewn inside a pig and dishes to represent every sign in the zodiac. His guest eat course after course, and talk of everyday life in the Roman Empire, while Trimalchio’s vulgar displays of wealth continue. The night ends with the drunken guests acting out Trimalchio’s funeral for the sake of his amusement.
Gatsby, like Trimalchio, was also know for throwing lavish parties in order to display his wealth and attract the attention of the elusive Daisy Buchanan. There are other subtle similarities between the two…. do you see one?
For more information on Petronius’ Satyricon, roman life, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and the Great Gatsby- visit your local library!
I am a film buff and particularly enjoy movies that were made of books – after reading the original first, so as to maintain the suspense. When I started looking into movies of The Great Gatsby, I was very excited to learn that there were four versions of the story. The earliest one came out just years after the novel and featured one of my favorite actors, William Powell (if you haven’t seen the Thin Man series, you are missing out). Released in 1926, the movie was adapted by Elizabeth Meehan as a silent film, this being before the advent of those new-fangled “talkies.” Unfortunately, every copy of the film was lost so it is no longer available for viewing. A preview for the film was found, however, so if you are looking to tease yourself you can watch it.
The second incarnation of The Great Gatsby was released by Paramount Pictures in 1949. Starring Alan Ladd, best known for his role as Shane, the film focuses more on the gangster-side of the story, heightening action that is mostly hinted at in the book.
A Great Cast… A Great Novel… A Great Motion Picture
From looking at the poster for the movie, it is quite evident that this Gatsby is playing by a different set of rules. The tagline, however, uses the fame the novel had already generated to lure people into the theater.
The most famous version of The Great Gatsby was released in 1974, also by Paramount Pictures. Robert Redford held the title role, with Mia Farrow as his Daisy. The whole picture was filled with heavy-hitters – Francis Ford Coppola wrote the screenplay!
Gone is the romance that was so divine.
While the tagline hints that their love was divine, behind the scenes of this movie there was a lot of drama. Truman Capote, of Breakfast at Tiffany’s fame, was originally hired to pen the screenplay but his version was found to be a little too far from the original. Or was it? There is a lot that can be read into the story; it just depends on your viewpoint.
The most recent version of The Great Gatsby was released in 2001 by A&E Television. Perhaps the most true to the story version, it has also received a mixed welcome. With such iconic people linked to the 1974 film, it took great courage to step into Gatsby’s shoes.
Oscar-winner Mira Sorvino is Daisy and British actor Toby Stephens is Gatsby. I particularly enjoyed the casting of Paul Rudd as Nick Carraway.
He risked it all to give first love a second chance.
A&E is known for its extremely well-made literary adaptations – Pride & Prejudice anyone?- but I personally haven’t had a chance to view this series yet. It’s always checked out!
So which version is your favorite?
I stayed up all night drinking Mint Julips and finishing The Great Gatsby. What’s next Old Sport? Do you have a schedule of events posted anywhere?
— James Gatz
Well, all the little gnomes are busy working behind the scenes. Just a few more emails to make, a few items to be crossed off lists, and some fingers to be crossed…
I don’t know about you, but I am excited! Good books, good music, and good times are all on their way!