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As a reader, theme is very important to me. This applies to novels and short stories and I find that all of my favorite writers are writing about things that mean something to me or about issues and ideas that I think are both relatable and significant.
With this is mind, style becomes a vehicle for theme and the question becomes, "Does this style convey and support important and compelling themes?" In my opinion, Hemingway's style is usually in line with his thematic and artistic interests. His protagonist is always at odds with himself. There is almost always an inner schism that is suppressed. This take on a person's internal life is fascinating.
The attention to details of food and drink and how much snow was on the mountain serves to distract and suppress and evade the real, emotional concerns of the narrative in ways that, I think, help to clarify and demonstrate the themes he is working with (a tendency to be romantic while disliking romance; a willingness to love and a hesitency to take overt emotional risk, etc.)
It does seem to take a reader some experience with Hemingway's writing before appreciation of the deceptively simple sentence comes. As post #2 states, when it works, it does, indeed, convey what Alfred Kazin, literary critic and author, terms "the primacy of experience," a reliving of a single unit of experience.
However, some of us personally prefer the beautiful prose of a F. Scott Fitzgerald or a Thomas Hardy, writing that delights the reader in its beauty.
I have come to admire the artistry in much of Hemingway's writing, especially the early stories and novels. It took me a while to appreciate his style because of its lack of imagery and figurative language, but after I had read more of Hemingway, I found it engaging. I read recently in an enotes study guide that Hemingway likened a story to an iceberg--most of it is below the surface. To appreciate his work, then, it becomes necessary to read between the lines and below the surface--to understand his characters through the prism of our own human experience. His style requires that the reader infers a great deal.
One of my favorite Hemingway stories is "Big Two-Hearted River." Nick Adams Goes Camping is really Nick Adams Struggles Minute by Minute To Hold Himself Together After Experiencing War. It's all there, just below the surface, for the insightful reader.
Actually, at the risk of waffling, I'd have to say my response to Hemingway's style varies. When it works, it works extremely well. I'd use "Hills Like White Elephants" as an example here. His stripped down style causes everything in the story to matter. Every pause, every detail in the landscape, every word choice by the characters, reveals hidden depths. In those cases, it works very well indeed.
Other times, I find him irritating. It's like he's reaching for a posture and not quite making it. This happens most when he seems to be reaching for a great statement on the nature of life, like in "A Clean Well-Lighted Place." That explosion of "nada" at the end seems like self-indulgence.
Does anyone know what Hemingway meant by his "blood and guts therory"?
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