Less is more

To make a splash with a novel, write a big one-that's what publishers think. But what about concision and refinement? What about "The Great Gatsby"?

By Kate Jennings   83

F Scott Fitzgerald once wrote in a letter to Thomas Wolfe, “You’re a putter-inner, and I’m a taker-outer.” Fitzgerald was defending himself against Wolfe’s belief that a novelist couldn’t be taken seriously until he or she had produced something that could hold up a three-legged sofa. These days, few people wade through Wolfe’s 500-page-plus “Look Homeward”, “Angel”, while “The Great Gatsby”, pushed to 200 pages in my edition by a lengthy preface and large type, is generally held to be novelistic perfection.

Putters-in and takers-out is as good a way as any to classify novelists. Putters-in: writers who pile on…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with our newsletter, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to letters@prospect-magazine.co.uk

More From Prospect