It should be noted, then, that in Paradise Lost Milton was not only justifying God's ways to humans in general; he was justifying His ways to the English people between 1640 and 1660. That is, he was telling them why they had failed to establish the good society by deposing the king, and why they had welcomed back the monarchy. Like Adam and Eve , they had failed through their own weaknesses, their own lack of faith, their own passions and greed,their own sin. God was not to blame for humanity's expulsion from Eden, nor was He to blame for the trials and corruption that befell England during the time of the Commonwealth under Oliver Cromwell. The failure of the Puritan revolution was tantamount, for Milton, to the people's failure to govern themselves according to the will of God, rather than of a royal despot. England had had the opportunity to become an instrument of God's plan, but ultimately failed to realize itself as the New Israel. Paradise Lost was more than a work of art. Indeed, it was a moral and political treatise, a poetic explanation for the course that English history had taken.
This had a lot to do with Fitzgerald ’s aloofness from his subjects: Sinclair Lewis penetrated to the deepest recesses of Babbitt’s and Dodsworth’s hearts and souls — their very essence — in a way that Fitzgerald didn’t succeed in doing even with Gatsby. Too much of an observer, he never engaged with life the way Hemingway did: not for him the blood and sweat of being in the arena, as Theodore Roosevelt so memorably advocated. That hubris, a feeling of being above the fray, impoverished his work and is, I believe, key to its inability to speak to succeeding generations, as his contemporaries’ does.