Hemingway, Ernest (Vol. 10)
Hemingway, Ernest 1899–1961
An American novelist and short story writer, Hemingway received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954 and the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction in 1953. The ultimate truths that face man in Hemingway's world are pain, disillusionment, violence, suffering, and, above all, death. For Hemingway's characters, value and purpose in life can be found in confrontation, in the bullfight, for example, and meaning can be gained through manly action, strong friendships, and, most importantly, through a relationship with nature. (See also CLC, Vols. 1, 3, 6, 8, and Contemporary Authors, Vols. 77-80.)
D. H. Lawrence
[In Our Time] does not pretend to be about one man. But it is. It is as much as we need know of the man's life. The sketches are short, sharp, vivid, and most of them excellent. (The "mottoes" in front seem a little affected.) And these few sketches are enough to create the man and all his history: we need know no more.
Nick is a type one meets in the more wild and woolly regions of the United States. He is the remains of the lone trapper and cowboy. Nowadays he is educated, and through with everything. It is a state of conscious, accepted indifference to everything except freedom from work and the moment's interest. Mr. Hemingway does it extremely well. Nothing matters. Everything happens. One wants to keep oneself loose. Avoid one thing only: getting connected up. Don't get connected up. If you get held by anything, break it. Don't be held. Break it, and get away. Don't get away with the idea of getting somewhere else. Just get away, for the sake of getting away. Beat it! "Well, boy, I guess I'll beat it." Ah, the pleasure in saying that!
Mr. Hemingway's sketches, for this reason, are excellent: so short, like striking a match, lighting a brief sensational cigarette, and it's over. His young love affair ends as one throws a cigarette end away. "It isn't fun any more."—"Everything's gone to hell inside me."
It is really honest. And it explains a great deal of sentimentality. When a...
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One of the most persistent themes of the Twenties was the death of love in World War I. All the major writers recorded it, often in piecemeal fashion, as part of the larger postwar scene; but only Hemingway seems to have caught it whole and delivered it in lasting fictional form…. Hemingway seems to design an extensive parable. Thus, in The Sun Also Rises, his protagonists are deliberately shaped as allegorical figures: Jake Barnes and Brett Ashley are two lovers desexed by the war; Robert Cohn is the false knight who challenges their despair; while Romero, the stalwart bullfighter, personifies the good life which will survive their failure. Of course, these characters are not abstractions in the text; they are realized through the most concrete style in American fiction, and their larger meaning is implied only by their response to immediate situations. But the implications are there, the parable is at work in every scene, and its presence lends unity and depth to the whole novel. (p. 127)
[His] fear of emotional consequences is the key to Barnes' condition. Like so many Hemingway heroes, he has no way to handle subjective complications, and his wound is a token for this kind of impotence.
It serves the same purpose for the expatriate crowd in Paris. In some figurative manner these artists, writers, and derelicts have all been rendered impotent by the war. Thus, as Barnes presents them, they pass before us...
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Hemingway has not created a Style: he has rather created the artful illusion of a Style, for he is a clever artist and there is a great deal of cleverness in all that he has done. He has conjured up an effect of Style by a process of evasion, very much as he sets up an aura of emotion—by walking directly away from emotion!
What I am trying to suggest is that the famous Hemingway Style is not "organic." And any style worthy of the name must be, as the much-worn, but nevertheless truthful mot, that Style is the man, testifies. Is Hemingway's Style the man? At the risk of a pun, I would answer no, it is the mannerism! It is an artifice, a series of charming tricks, a group of cleverness. Gertrude Stein taught Hemingway that one can obtain wry effects by assembling incongruities, and Hemingway really learned how to juxtapose these with high skill. (pp. 169-70)
What of the substance?… [His] is a world of superficial action and almost wholly without reflection—such reflection as there is tends to be on a rather crude and simplified level. It will be argued that all this is a large part of life and thus has validity in fiction. Of course. It is my contention merely that such surface writing, dressed out in prose mannerisms, does not constitute a Style and that the present emphasis on this quality in Hemingway tends, in effect, to minimize the hollowness of his total production. Hemingway has...
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One could easily list the particular moments that Hemingway chooses to focus on in his short stories and nearly always they will be found to be moments of crisis, tension and passion. This is not to say that they are epiphanies in Joyce's sense, but rather that they deal with moments of pain, shock, strain, test, moments of emotional heightening of some kind. It may be an ageing courageous bull fighter facing and succumbing to his last bull, it may be a man listening to his wife say that she is leaving him to go off with a woman: the subject matter varies widely, the emotional pitch of the characters is almost uniformly high. And it is at such moments that the details of the encompassing world seem saturated with relevance in an unusually intense way. They do not become symbolic, it is a weakness in the later Hemingway that he pushes them too far in that direction: they can be full of mute menace (as rain, for instance, always is in his stories): but usually they function as the recipients of the characters' intense attention. The character's emotion and the surrounding concrete details interpermeate. In A Farewell to Arms there are at least three detailed accounts of meals, detailed to an extent which would be boring if they were simply meals taken by habit for sustenance. But they occur—immediately before the hero is bombed; while he and Catherine are enjoying a snatched few moments of ecstasy away from the war; and while he is waiting to...
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Frank W. Shelton
Hemingway's books may seem to lack entirely that most primary group to which every individual belongs, at least initially, the family.
However, with the posthumous publication of Islands in the Stream and The Nick Adams Stories, the importance of the family to Hemingway becomes increasingly clear. In Islands in the Stream, Thomas Hudson's loss of his sons in part causes his final deep despair. Placing the Nick Adams stories in chronological sequence, as the recent volume does, also highlights how so many of them deal, at least obliquely, with Nick's relationship with and attitude toward family and marriage.
As a child Nick is never closely tied to anyone for a long period of time. In the previously published stories, we see at best an ambivalent picture of Dr. Adams in "Indian Camp," although the newly published fragment, "Three Shots," emphasizes Dr. Adams' sympathy for Nick's fear of the woods. Other stories, especially "The Doctor and the Doctor's Wife" and "Ten Indians," suggest the inadequacy of both Nick's parents, particularly when one compares the coldness and constraint of the relationship between Nick and his father in the latter story to the warm, relaxed atmosphere surrounding the Garners, a true family unit. It is surely no accident that, in the stories of Nick's childhood, Hemingway never presents father, mother, and son all together at one time.
The inclusion in...
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This short, almost desperate, and beautiful story ["A Clean, Well-Lighted Place"] is an unusually fine example of a very special kind of story which is not anecdotal at all. If you were asked by somebody, "What happens in this story?" you would have to reply, "Nothing." Now nothing is exactly what the story is about: Nothing, and the steps we take against Nothing. The fact that there is no plot is part of the story's meaning: in a world characterized by "Nothing," what significant action could take place? The two waiters are only very gradually distinguished from each other; their voices in the beginning are choric, just two men talking, any two men. Of the old man in the café we learn very little, and of the barman at the end, nothing. The older waiter is clearly the most important person in the story, but we do not really learn very much about him, either. You could hardly say that the story is about him. The part usually played by plot and characterization is left in this story largely to setting and atmosphere.
Hemingway's style is famous for its simplicity—short, common words, short sentences—and is said to be realistic or naturalistic. Is it realistic? "I am of those who like to stay late at the café," the older waiter says. "With all those who do not want to go to bed. With all those who need a light for the night." Surely this is elaborately rhetorical, nobody actually talks this way, and one of the reasons...
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