Miller convincingly argues that Fitzgerald moved steadily away from the novel of saturation, of which This Side of Paradise is a good example, toward the Jamesian and Conradian novel of selected incident.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.
Sklar sees Fitzgerald, on the one hand, as taking seriously his legacy of the genteel tradition, which involves such qualities as decency and chivalry; on the other hand, he believes that Fitzgerald devoted his life artistically to the search for a way to modify this legacy to make it morally defensible in a modern world that presents so many rational challenges to the genteel tradition, a world in which all gods are dead, all wars fought, and all faiths in man shaken.
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.
Scott Fitzgerald: His Art and His Technique, which reprints the first edition and extends the thesis through to the end of Fitzgerald's life, including discussions of Tender Is the Night and The Last Tycoon, not included in the first edition.
Miller establishes a context for his theories about Fitzgerald's artistic development by first clarifying his definition of the term "technique." Rejecting narrow definitions of the term as concerned simply with point of view, Miller settles on Mark Shorer's comprehensive definition: "Everything is technique which is not the lump of experience itself, and one cannot properly say that a writer has no technique or that he eschews technique, for, being a writer, he cannot do so." Miller, therefore, examines Fitzgerald's technique in broad terms of "the development of theme, point of view, and the manner of representing events." At the core of Miller's thesis is a belief that Fitzgerald's development as a writer can be followed in relation to his belief in the novel of saturation or the novel of selected incident; in effect, in terms of Fitzgerald's shifting position in the H. Wells-Henry James debate, which squarely confronts the positive and negative aspects of these theoretically different kinds of novels.