“a fresh, green breast of the new world. Its vanished trees, the trees that had made way for Gatsby's house, had once pandered in whispers to the last and greatest of all human dreams; for a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an aesthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate with his capacity for wonder. ”
He smiled understandingly – much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced – or seemed to face – the whole eternal world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey. Precisely at that point it vanished – and I was looking at an elegant young roughneck, a year or two over thirty, whose elaborate formality of speech just missed being absurd. Sometimes before he introduced himself I’d got a strong impression that he was picking his words with care.
在文本之外，菲斯杰拉德与文学编辑珀金斯的通信提供了另一条重要线索。在1924年与珀金斯的通信中，菲斯杰拉德声称眼下这部正在修改的作品将成为美国文学史上最优秀的小说。从通信可知，菲斯杰拉德跃跃欲试，几易其稿，倾注全部心血，在书名选定上更是费尽心思。为了寻找一个既能淬炼全书精华，又足够抢眼的书名，菲斯杰拉德曾考虑过如下书名：Under the Red, White and Blue, Trimalchio, On the Road to West Egg, Gold-hatted Gatsby, The High Bouncing Lover。最后选定“伟大的盖茨比”作为标题，作者承认，其实并不准确，这个标题“太弱，因为作品从未有意强调盖茨比的‘伟大’，也没有反讽其‘不伟大’，不过暂且就用这个吧”。既然不够准确，为什么仍坚持用“伟大的”一词？盖伊·雷诺兹在华兹华斯经典版的导读中做出了可信的解释：定名为Great Gatsby并非出于作品逻辑，而是声效使然，两个押头韵的词语放在一起能产生一种轻快活泼的效果，听起来很像小说里提及的爵士乐的曲目。两个词在节奏和调子上与那个时代的文化气质吻合，所以，书名在形式上（而非内容上）与小说形式（非内容）所传达出来的时代精神发生共振。如此看来，用great作题目是贴切的，但用来修饰盖茨比确实有点勉强。