Contact: Sasha Steinberg
STARKVILLE, Miss.—The founding dean of Mississippi State’s Judy and Bobby Shackouls Honors College is holding a 4 p.m. signing session for his latest work Friday [April 5] at Book Mart and Café on Main Street in Starkville.
“Gatsby’s Oxford—Scott, Zelda, and the Jazz Age Invasion of Britain: 1904-1929” is Christopher A. Snyder’s ninth book. In addition to Friday’s event, Snyder will be available to sign books April 13 at noon in the Writers Tent at Starkville’s Cotton District Arts Festival.
Recently published by Pegasus Books, “Gatsby’s Oxford” has been highly praised by Publishers Weekly for offering “a fresh reading of (F. Scott) Fitzgerald’s masterpiece (“The Great Gatsby”) as a novel about the American Dream, wrapped in medieval colors.”
The book chronicles the experiences of Americans in Oxford through the Great War and the years of recovery to 1929, the end of Prohibition and the beginning of the Great Depression.
“This period is interpreted through the pages of ‘The Great Gatsby,’ producing a vivid cultural history,” Snyder said.
Also a professor of European history in the MSU College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of History, Snyder said a diverse group of Americans—poet T.S. Eliot, polo star Tommy Hitchcock, and F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald—came to Oxford in the first quarter of the 20th century, or the Jazz Age, when the Rhodes Scholar program had just begun and the Great War had enveloped much of Europe.
This visit, Snyder said, inspired Fitzgerald to create Jay Gatsby, “the Oxford man in the pink suit” who represents a “cultural reflection of the aspirations of many Americans who came to the University of Oxford seeking beauty, wisdom and social connections.”
“Archival material covering the first American Rhodes Scholars who came to Oxford during Trinity Term 1919—when Jay Gatsby claims he studied at Oxford—enables the narrative to illuminate a detailed portrait of what a ‘historical Gatsby’ would have looked like, what he would have experienced at the postwar university, and who he would have encountered around Oxford—an impressive array of artists including Eliot, W.B. Yeats, Virginia Woolf, Aldous Huxley, Evelyn Waugh, Winston Churchill, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis,” Snyder said.
One of these Americans, Snyder said, was Major William M. Rogers (Mississippi and St. John’s 1911), Mississippi State’s first Rhodes Scholar. Rogers was a hero at the Western Front during World War I and was put in charge of bringing 150 soldier-students to Oxford for five months during the Armistice. Jay Gatsby confesses to have been part of this project in the novel, Snyder explained.
For more, visit http://pegasusbooks.com/books/gatsbys-oxford-9781643130095-hardcover.
Snyder, who holds master’s and doctoral degrees in medieval history from Emory University, has lectured American honors students since 2007 at the University of Oxford. He conducted seven years of research at the historic institution for his book, “The Making of Middle-earth: A New Look Inside the World of J.R.R. Tolkien” (Sterling Publishing, 2013). He also frequently lectures at the Smithsonian Institution and has appeared on the History Channel, Discovery, the National Geographic Channel, and the BBC. Snyder is a member of the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa Society, which established a new chapter at MSU on Tuesday [April 2].
Learn more about MSU’s Judy and Bobby Shackouls Honors College at www.honors.msstate.edu; the College of Arts and Sciences and its Department of History at www.cas.msstate.edu and www.history.msstate.edu.
MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at www.msstate.edu.