1. bookVolume 21 (2021): Issue 2 (December 2021)
Journal Details
License
Format
Journal
eISSN
2067-5712
First Published
30 Aug 2019
Publication timeframe
2 times per year
Languages
English
access type Open Access

The Great Gatsby Avant la Lettre: New York City as a Place of Damnation in Willa Sibert Cather’s “Paul’s Case”

Published Online: 10 Apr 2022
Volume & Issue: Volume 21 (2021) - Issue 2 (December 2021)
Page range: 53 - 64
Journal Details
License
Format
Journal
eISSN
2067-5712
First Published
30 Aug 2019
Publication timeframe
2 times per year
Languages
English
Abstract

“Paul’s Case,” suggestively subtitled “A Study in Temperament,” by Willa Sibert Cather, thematizes some of the main concerns regarding the moral decay of American society and the disillusionment with the American Dream that would be addressed twenty years later by F. Scott Fitzgerald in his iconic novel The Great Gatsby. The story provides ample proof of the presence of such skeptical views regarding American society way before the onset of the orgiastic, almost Babylonian, roaring twenties. Published in 1905, Cather’s story is simultaneously an individual and a societal x-ray of the deepest scars, and the darkest demons, of the world’s most iconic capitalist space, New York City. The city becomes a place of personal, as well as collective, damnation, which fails to offer a solution to Paul’s perceived placelessness. Even though it lacks The Great Gatsby’s ethical and narrative complexity, the story can be seen as a brilliant precursor to the feeling of imminent downfall which pervades the literature of the Jazz Age.

Keywords

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