I'm thinking about reading The Love of the Last Tycoon - a novel that I'd previously shunned because Fitzgerald died before he could complete it - and I was wondering what your thoughts were on the value or importance of unfinished novels in a writer's oeuvre. I specify novels because I'm convinced of the value of incomplete poems as I read poetry primarily for the language whereas I find narrative to be an important feature of novels.
Naturally one could not discuss incomplete works of literature without reference to Kafka, who is arguably most famous for his three unfinished novels. I've not read his novels so I can't comment on them, but I've read his short stories and found those that were unfinished interesting to read because his stories almost seem more akin to poetry than to traditional novels or stories; there's a lot to interpret in pieces such as "Blumfeld, an Elderly Bachelor". The fact that so much of Kafka's work is incomplete might be said to contribute to the aesthetics of Kafka's writing. It's almost as if it adds another layer of mystery and confusion to the already difficult, allegorical and seemingly personal texts.
I've also been thinking about the difference between incomplete literature, either due to death or abandonment, and literature of which we possess only fragments. It seems to me that the latter part of a text, once completed, would influence the former parts in the editing/rewriting process. It's possible that the completed parts of novels by Fitzgerald or Kafka could have been much different had the author actually completed the work. The only incomplete texts that we can be sure of are those like Dicken's Edwin Drood, which were published in parts. In contrast, when we read something like Sappho's poetry or some of the Greek plays we know that what we're reading are the fragments of a completed text. To me that makes fragments seem like a better representation of the author's artistic intentions and therefore maybe more worthy of critical study.