Yesterday, the New York Times reported that Ernest Hemingway may have produced as many as 47 endings to his midcareer masterpiece, A Farewell to Arms. The so-called “Nada Ending,” for instance, which is No. 1: ‘That is all there is to the story. Catherine died and you will die and I will die and that is all I can promise you.’ ” And the “Live-Baby Ending,” No. 7: “There is no end except death and birth is the only beginning.’ ” In the wake of this report, scholars and family members of F. Scott Fitzgerald dropped a second bombshell on the literary world, revealing no fewer than 47 alternate endings to the Jazz Age master’s own chef d’oeuvre, The Great Gatsby. The recent discovery brings the grand total number of Gatsby endings to 48—or, as one Fitzgerald expert put it, “one more ending than Hemingway, a lazy man and lesser talent, ever wrote.” Slate managed to acquire all 47 of Fitzgerald’s foiled attempts; the endings, unaltered, are reproduced below.
No. 1, “The Grand Epiphany Ending”: “Gatsby believed in the green light, but sitting out among the quiet whisperings of the shore I had a different sort of revelation: Sometimes life is easy, but sometimes it is hard.”
No. 7, “The Freudian Ending”: “When you really thought about it, Gatsby looked a lot like my mother, and so did Jordan.”
No. 12, “The Romantic Comedy Ending”: “As I stood there someone came up behind me. It was Jordan Baker. ‘Hey,’ she said. ‘I was just thinking—’ I cut in, ‘I’ve been meaning to say—’ ‘Sorry, you go first,’ she said. ‘What? No, please. You.’ ‘I was just thinking—do you think we should give it a chance after all? I mean, only if you want to.’ ‘Maybe we could just try it for a while.’ ‘It’s just that no one else is quite as surprising.’ ‘Yeah, I sort of agree.’ Then I kissed her and we went paragliding in Wellfleet.”