In the course of his analyses Eble makes observations, some of them original and some of them echoes of earlier appraisals, that are now the foundation of the conventional wisdom of Fitzgerald scholarship.
Drawing heavily on Arthur Mizener's 1951 Fitzgerald biography, The Far Side of Paradise, he demonstrates beyond any question that Fitzgerald's fictional works typically come directly from his personal experience, scarcely a startling proposition for anyone mildly acquainted with Fitzgerald's life and work.
Scott Fitzgerald, University of Missouri Press, 1995).
Counting Eble's book and Miller's 1964 revised volume, the decade of the 1960's saw fifteen books devoted exclusively to Fitzgerald's work published in the United States, more book-length critical studies on Fitzgerald than have been published in any other single decade.
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You may enjoy our Favorite Short Stories Collection. Try one of these Short Short Stories, sorted to suit your mood.Miller's discussion of the technique of Fitzgerald's first three novels and selected stories which cluster around them is based on detailed, sensitive analysis of the works, almost scene by scene.He also includes pertinent sections of letters and reviews by Fitzgerald which indicate beyond much doubt that Fitzgerald's shift from the novel of saturation to the novel of selected incident was conscious and carefully reasoned.But what Eble manages to do with this observation is to demonstrate which kinds of life experiences and which kinds of narrative points of view seem to work best for Fitzgerald.Eble shows, for example, how much stronger dramatic episodes in the Basil stories are artistically than those based on similar episodes drawn from life in Fitzgerald's first novel, This Side of Paradise, a point which leads to the conclusion that Fitzgerald does better with experiences that have had time to cool.Two of these were introductory studies, seven (counting Eble, Miller, and a translation from Italian of an earlier study) were comprehensive studies of the Fitzgerald canon, one was a study of the composition of Tender Is the Night, and five were collections of critical essays.The comprehensive studies were characteristically aimed at affirming Fitzgerald's position in the mainstream of American literary history and of deepening the reader's understanding of the precise nature of his achievement relative to the tradition of which he was a part. Scott Fitzgerald: The Last Laocoon, the last of the 1960's volumes, is built on the metaphor (first constructed in relation to Fitzgerald by Malcolm Lowry) of Apollo's priest, Laocoon, who, in Virgil's Aeneid, pierced the wooden horse with his spear to warn his countrymen against the trickery of the Greeks.His Trojan countrymen paid him no attention, and Athena called serpents from the sea to destroy Laocoon and his sons.Sklar, taking Lowry's cue, suggests that Fitzgerald warned the American people against the enemy that would destroy them--the loss of "chivalry and decency"--but he, like Laocoon, was ignored and finally killed for delivering his message.The pinnacle of Fitzgerald's achievement, according to Miller, is The Great Gatsby, in which "[f]or the first time in his career [Fitzgerald] was able to disengage himself from his subject and treat his material from an artistic and impersonal perspective." In the 1964 edition Miller carries his thesis beyond The Great Gatsby and shows that Tender Is the Night and The Last Tycoo are magnificent failures of sorts because Fitzgerald's artistic standards were carefully considered during the time of composition of these works; he simply could not realize them as fully as he had done in The Great Gatsby.The earlier novel, The Beautiful and Damned, by contrast, failed because it grew out of a time of theoretical uncertainty and transition Fitzgerald's life.