The fifty odd years of careful scrutiny of the body of Fitzgerald's work have more than borne out the confidence of those few contemporary critics who, in his lifetime, saw for him a permanent place among the immortals of American literature.
But he was also from the beginning of his career a serious literary artist who worked diligently to reconcile in his own life the central dilemma of professional authorship in America: how to create works of high literary merit while earning a living from his own writing.
EBLE's book does what few introductory works in a series such as the Twayne Series are able to do: it provides a comprehensive overview of the canon; it breaks new ground, particularly in its stylistic analysis of major works; and it provides, as we can now see in retrospect, a blueprint for the direction of Fitzgerald studies in the three decades that follow it.
Eble systematically examines the novels and the stories against the backdrop of Fitzgerald biography, finally drawing conclusions about the relative strengths of the works, particularly the novels, by new-critical standards.
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.
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.
Eliot, the latter of whom called The Great Gatsby "the first step that American fiction has taken since Henry James." As the poet laureate of the Jazz Age, the creator of the flapper in fiction, as author of more than one hundred fifty stories in slick magazines like the Saturday Evening Post and, with his wife Zelda, a visible public figure pictured on the cover of popular magazines and the top of taxicabs on Fifth Avenue in New York during the 1920's, Fitzgerald became an easy target for superficial evaluations of his work during his lifetime.
There are two versions of this book: the 1957 edition, which traces the development of Fitzgerald's fictional technique from This Side of Paradise(1920) through The Great Gatsby (1925); and the 1964 edition, F.
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.
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.