F. Scott Fitzgerald likely gleaned the title for his magnum opus The Great Gatsby from an enigmatic passage in Joseph Conrad’s Lord Jim, in which the eponymous character is said to be “of great gabasidy” — a polyglot’s pronunciation of great capacity. But the parallels between Conrad and Fitzgerald’s novels go well beyond the title, most notably in the way that Fitzgerald fashions Gatsby in the image of Jim. Moreover, both Conrad and Fitzgerald meditate on Jim’s and Gatsby’s “capacity,” which they imbue with a romantic optimism that forestalls the traumas of the past. Fitzgerald utilizes Conrad and his protagonist as a model for how to place a conventionally romantic character within a text that is otherwise preoccupied with modernist forms and themes.


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pp. 56-70
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