New York Herald literary critic Isabel Paterson wrote in her review of The Great Gatsby that it was “a book for the season only.” H. L. Mencken at The Chicago Tribune called it “obviously unimportant.” The Dallas Morning News had the best (re: worst, most devastating, gut-punching) comment, “One finishes The Great Gatsby with a feeling of regret, not for the fate of the people in the book, but for Mr. Fitzgerald. When This Side of Paradise was published, Mr. Fitzgerald was hailed as a young man of promise… but the promise, like so many, seems likely to go unfulfilled.”
As John Green says when he writes about Gatsby‘s reviewers in his book (The Anthropocene Reviewed), “Yikes.”
The Gatsby comments make for a great reminder: do good work and let the critics be damned.
Yeah, you and I will probably never come anywhere near creating anything so remarkable as Gatsby, but if the critics of Fitzgerald’s time couldn’t figure it out, neither can the critics today.
Put in the work. Put it out there for others to see. Put the critics where they belong, off to the side. They were wrong about Gatsby, and they’ll be wrong about a million more things. That means they’re not worth us worrying about either.
Make it. Ship it. Move forward.