F. Scott Fitzgerald Long Fiction Analysis
“The test of a first-rate intelligence,” F. Scott Fitzgerald remarked in the late 1930’s, “is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.” At his best—in The Great Gatsby, in parts of Tender Is the Night, in the unfinished The Last Tycoon, and in parts of his first two novels, This Side of Paradise and The Beautiful and Damned—Fitzgerald demonstrates the kind of intelligence he describes, an intelligence characterized by the aesthetic principle of “double vision.” An understanding of this phrase (coined and first applied to Fitzgerald’s art by Malcolm Cowley) is central to any discussion of Fitzgerald’s novels.
“Double vision” denotes two ways of seeing. It implies the tension involved when Fitzgerald sets things in opposition such that the reader can, on one hand, sensually experience the event about which Fitzgerald is writing, becoming emotionally immersed in it, and yet at the same time retain the objectivity to stand back and intellectually criticize it. The foundation of double vision is polarity, the setting of extremes against each other; the result in a novel is dramatic tension. By following the changes in Fitzgerald’snarrative technique from This Side of Paradise to The Beautiful and Damned to The Great Gatsby and finally into Tender Is the Night, one can trace the growth...
(The entire section is 6284 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of F. Scott Fitzgerald Critical Essays. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!