Westport has laid out a strong case as the setting for “The Great Gastsby.”
Great Neck is firing back.
Westporters know the story: historian Deej Webb and filmmaker Robert Steven Williams say that F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgeralds’ 1920 sojourn here informed not only the author’s physical description of Jay Gatsby’s mansion, but also much of the novel’s emotional power.
They also believe that Westport influenced nearly all of Fitzgerald’s ouevre.
Not so fast, Long Island counters.
“Everyone knows that Great Neck was the setting for ‘The Great Gatsby,’ don’t they?” a flyer from that town’s historical society asks.
And then answers: “Apparently, not everyone!”
“There are those who believe that Fitzgerald was really talking about — of all places — Westport, Connecticut,” the Great Neck Historical Society explains.
After mentioning Webb and Williams’ PBS film and companion book — plus stories in the New York Times, Newsday and more — the GNHS announces that the duo will discuss their findings and answer audience questions at a “special presentation.”
It’s this Sunday (October 21), 1:30 p.m. at the Great Neck Public Library main branch. GNHS president Alice Kasten will “defend” — their word — Great Neck’s “historical and literary honor” (ditto).
She recently took Webb and Williams on a Great Neck tour, “pointing out details to substantiate the long-held belief that Fitzgerald was writing about Great Neck and Port Washington.”
“They even interviewed me for their film,” she says. “I showed them how Fitzgerald had to be writing about our hometown.”
The GNHS calls this a “bound-to-be-controversial program.” It’s free, and open to the public.
Which means Westporters — defending our own honor — can pack the house. Click here for directions!
(Hat tip: Marcia Falk)