|The Far Side of Paradise|
(first edition, 1951)
For much of the 1930s and 1940s, Fitzgerald was widely viewed as a literary curiosity noteworthy only for his vivid depictions of the Roaring Twenties. When Fitzgerald died in December 1940, a New York Times obituary carried the headline "Brilliant novelist of the Twenties; inactive recently" and noted that "the promise of his brilliant career was never fulfilled."
Published by Houghton Mifflin in early 1951, a little over ten years after Fitzgerald's death, The Far Side of Paradise helped rescue Fitzgerald from labeling as a period author and led to the acceptance of his work as a subject of scholarly inquiry. Mizener dealt frankly with Fitzgerald's alcoholism and his wife Zelda's mental illness.
"Mr. Mizener writes briskly and well, with sympathy and considerable psychological perception...This is not only an interesting study of an interesting writer, it is also the moving and pathetic story of a tragic life," wrote Orville Prescott in a New York Times review of The Far Side of Paradise.
|Arthur Mizener, 1960|
(courtesy of Cornell University Library)
In the introduction to The Far Side of Paradise Mizener writes -- "Fitzgerald’s work is full of precisely observed external detail, for which he had a formidable memory, and it is this gift of observation which has led to the superficial opinion that he was nothing but a chronicler of the social surface, particularly of the twenties...It is no help to this end that he began his career with a great popular success. This Side of Paradise connected him in many people’s minds with 'the Jazz Age,' so that he was for them both the historian—'the laureate'—of the post-[World War I] generation and its exemplar."
|Tender is the Night, serialized|
in Scribner's, January 1934.
Other works by Mizener include The Saddest Story: A Biography of Ford Madox Ford (1971) and.four more books on Fitzgerald which he either wrote or edited - Afternoon of an Author (1957), F. Scott Fitzgerald: A Collection of Critical Essays (1963), The Fitzgerald Reader (1963), and Scott Fitzgerald and His World (1972).
Arthur Mizener's List of Twelve Great American Novels
The Deerslayer (1841) by James Fenimore Cooper.
The Scarlet Letter (1850) by Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Moby Dick (1851) by Herman Melville.
Huckleberry Finn (1884) by Mark Twain.
The Ambassadors (1902) by Henry James.
The Age of Innocence (1920) by Edith Wharton.
The Sun Also Rises (1926) by Ernest Hemingway.
The Sound and the Fury (1929) by William Faulkner.
Tender is the Night (1934) by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
The Big Money (1936) by John Dos Passos.
All the Kings's Men (1946) by Robert Penn Warren.
Guard of Honor (1948) by James Gould Cozzens.
Sources and more information --
Arthur Mizener. Cornell University New Student Reading Project.
Arthur Mizener, 80, Critic Who Wrote Work on Fitzgerald. New York Times, 15 Feb 1988.
F. Scott Fitzgerald Society.
Breit, Harvey. "Talk with Mr. Mizener." New York Times, 28 Jan 1951.
Mizener, Arthur. "Gatsby, 35 Years Later" New York Times, 24 Apr 1960.
Prescott, Orville. Review of The Far Side of Paradise. New York Times, 29 Jan 1951.
The Committee Room. Interesting Articles for Interested Readers.