Willa Cather's story "Paul's Case" was first published in 1905. It was the last of seven stories in her first collection, The Troll Garden, which launched Cather's literary career. When the story was printed in McClure's in May of the same year, it brought Cather to national attention. In 1920 the story was reprinted by Alfred Knopf in Youth and the Bright Medusa.
Like many of the stories in The Troll Garden, "Paul's Case" explores the dangers of art and the struggles of artists and artistically inclined youth in a commercial world. Cather once remarked that the events in the story were modeled on an actual incident that occurred while she was teaching English in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Cather's portrayal of a young man who lives for beauty and believes that money can transform his identity influenced F. Scott Fitzgerald, whose novel The Great Gatsby explores similar issues.