‘Gatsby’: What’s so great?

In Baz Luhrmann’s “The Great Gatsby,” opening Friday, Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan star as Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan. Below: Robert Redford and Mia Farrow played the roles in the 1974 film.
In Baz Luhrmann’s “The Great Gatsby,” opening Friday, Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan star as Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan. Below: Robert Redford and Mia Farrow played the roles in the 1974 film.Warner Bros. Pictures

This is a summary. To read the whole story subscribe to BostonGlobe.com

What’s so great about Gatsby? Well, let’s start with its track record.

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 masterpiece “The Great Gatsby,” which began life as “Trimalchio in West Egg,” got mixed reviews upon publication and only sold about 20,000 copies in its first year. But since then the book has never been out of print.

In 1926 there was both a successful Broadway stage adaptation and a silent feature film. That 1926 movie was the first of five films based on the book. The newest, with Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby, opens on Friday.

Which prompts us to again ask ourselves, what’s so great about Gatsby and why has it become such a prominent element of our literary culture? The simple answer may be its simplicity.

Full story for BostonGlobe.com subscribers.

Get the full story with unlimited access to BostonGlobe.com.

Just 99 cents for four weeks.

Share