Download THE GREAT GATSBY dictionary

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The Glossary is limited to proper nouns, the meaning of which might not be clear in the
context of the novel. Symbolic terms such as grail or incarnation are explained in the
chapter-by-chapter analysis.
"AIN'T WE GOT FUN" A very popular song of the day, Klipspringer sings it to Gatsby
and Daisy in Chapter VI.
BELASCO David Belasco (1853-1931) was a very successful American actor, producer,
playwright, and theater manager. Owl Eyes thinks of Gatsby as a "regular Belasco,"
because of his magnificent library and real books.
JAMES J. HILL American railroad tycoon and financier (1838-1916); one of many rich
Americans referred to in the novel.
KAISER WILHELM The Emperor of Germany in 1914 at the outbreak of World War I.
Gatsby is suspected of being a nephew of Kaiser Wilhelm.
KANT Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) was famous German philosopher who stared at a
church steeple to help his concentration. Nick, in Chapter V, stares at Gatsby's house,
"like Kant at his church steeple."
LAKE FOREST A suburb of Chicago where very rich and socially prestigious families
live. Tom Buchanan comes East with a string of polo ponies from Lake Forest.
MIDAS... MORGAN ... MAECENAS The first was the legendary king who was granted
his wish that everything he touch change to gold. "Morgan" refers to J. Pierpont Morgan
(1837-1913), the famous New York financier. "Maecenas" was a wealthy Etruscan patron
of the Roman poets Horace and Virgil. All three are examples of Fitzgerald's fascination
with wealth and the very wealthy.
MONTENEGRO Once a small country on the Adriatic Sea, now part of Yugoslavia.
Gatsby says he has a medal from "little Montenegro."
NEW HAVEN The city in Connecticut where Yale University is located. "New Haven"
in this novel means Yale, where Tom and Nick went to college.
OXFORD Oxford University in England. Meyer Wolfsheim refers to it mistakenly as
"Oggsford College." Oxford is not a college, but a university, made up of a collection of
PLAZA HOTEL The famous hotel in New York City at the corner of Fifth Avenue and
Central Park South. You can still take carriage rides from the Plaza today. (see Chapter
ROCKEFELLER John D. Rockefeller (1839 1939) was an industrialist and philanthropist
who founded the Standard Oil Company. He was perhaps the ultimate symbol of wealth
in the United States.
"SHEIK OF ARABY" Another popular song of the day. overheard by Nick and Jordan in
New York.
TOSTOFF Vladimir Tostoff's Jazz History of the World is an imaginary composition by
an imaginary composer. The jazz orchestra plays it for the guests at Gatsby's party in
Chapter III. It's self-important title is Fitzgerald's cynical comment on how jazz tried to
present itself as a serious rival to classical music during the '20s.
TRIMALCHIO Central character of the Satyricon by Petronius. Trimalchio is a vulgar,
self-made millionaire whose brief and meteoric rise to the top parallels Gatsby's brief
career. Fitzgerald thought of calling the novel, "Trimalchio in West Egg."
VON HINDENBURG German general, chief of staff in World War I, later president of
the Weimar Republic. Some say Gatsby worked for von Hindenberg--another example of
the Gatsby myth.
W ORLD SERIES OF 1919 The famous "Black Sox" scandal in which the Chicago
White Sox deliberately lost the World Series to the Cincinnati Reds, a much weaker
team, in order to make money for themselves. The arrangements were made through a
group of gamblers , the key figure of which was Arnold Rothstein, the model for Meyer
Wolfsheim in Gatsby. (See Chapter IV.)