Or, rather, as I didn’t know Mr. Gatsby, it was a mansion inhabited by a gentleman of that name.
By calling Gatsby’s colossal mansion “a mansion inhabited by a gentleman of that name,” Nick Carraway suggests that Gatsby’s extravagant residence is only what he displays to the public and is not representative of his real self. The author brings up the psychological notion that one’s identity is solely based on his or her performance. In other words, the person and his or her personality and character are perceived by how the person chooses to exhibit him or herself and how he or she acts towards others; names are also just labels that distinguish one individual from another. In this way, Gatsby’s mansion is just one of his many representations that he exhibits and does not represent who he really is. However, he is overly concerned with the representation of his wealth and therefore builds the seemingly elaborate but unnatural palace.
The simple way to interpret this is that Nick is pointing out the fact that this story he is about to tell has already happened. At first Nick refers to it as “Gatsby’s mansion” indicating that he knew Gatsby on a personal level. Then he corrected himself, realizing that at the beginning of this tale Gatsby was nothing more than a name to him.
To help improve the meaning of these lyrics, visit "The Great Gatsby (Chapter I)" by F. Scott Fitzgerald and leave a comment on the lyrics box