Given that this decade marks the 100th anniversary of the Roaring Twenties, it seems only fitting that The Great Gatsby, a modern classic that perfectly surmises that time in American history, is set to lose its copyright and enter the public domain, meaning anyone and everyone will be free to use the source material as they see fit, whether it be for film adaptations, TV shows, theater, or even more books.
As AP News reports, Blake Hazard, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s great-granddaughter and a trustee of his literary estate said: “We’re just very grateful to have had it under copyright, not just for the rather obvious benefits, but to try and safeguard the text, to guide certain projects and try to avoid unfortunate ones. We’re now looking to a new period and trying to view it with enthusiasm, knowing some exciting things may come.”
Fitzgerald scholar James L. W. West III, a professor emeritus at Pennsylvania State University, said: “I wish it were possible for the Fitzgerald Trust to retain copyright. They have been wonderful caretakers of Fitzgerald’s literary rights and his reputation. But under our laws all literary works eventually belong to the people. That’s probably as it should be.”
First published in 1925, The Great Gatsby is set at the height of the Roaring Twenties and examines the American Dream, wealth, love, and social status. Despite now being considered a modern classic, the book wasn’t an instant hit, and had sold less than 25,000 copies by the time its author died i 1940. Worldwide sales currently stand at over 30 million, with over half a million copies being sold each year.
The Great Gatsby has been adapted into a number of projects over the years, including several films. Hazard stated that she enjoyed both the 1973 film starring Robert Redford, as well as the 2013 version with Leonardo DiCaprio, but believes there are more ways it can be adapted.
“I would love to see an inclusive adaptation of ‘Gatsby,’ with a diverse cast,” she said. “Though the story is set in a very specific time and place, it seems to me that a retelling of this great American story could and should reflect a more diverse America.”