Islands in the Stream Essay - Critical Evaluation

Ernest Hemingway

Critical Evaluation

Ernest Hemingway’s tremendous fame rests upon his acclaim as a writer and his status as a world celebrity, a celebrity that itself rests upon his eventful life, which furnished the subjects of his art. Works such as Islands in the Stream have an autobiographical basis; for example, Hemingway himself actually engaged in such quixotic and, in his case, fruitless exploits as German U-boat hunting during World War II. His best-known fiction includes highly wrought short stories such as “The Killers” (1927), “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place” (1926), and “Hills Like White Elephants” (1927) and longer stories such as “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” (1936). Widely read and often translated novels include The Sun Also Rises (1926), A Farewell to Arms (1929), and For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940). Hemingway’s artistic influence stems from his often violent subjects (war and sport), his terse and disciplined style (concentrated and laconic), and his attitudes and values (including famously celebrating the “grace under pressure” of stoic characters).

By most accounts, Hemingway’s greatest literary achievements fall early in his career. Many critics find his later works less original and inspired, more mannered and self-imitative. All of his most admired works were written before the United States entered World War II in 1941, twenty years before the author’s death in 1961. After 1941, Hemingway’s most universally acclaimed work—specifically mentioned in the citation for his 1954 Nobel Prize in Literature—was The Old Man and the Sea (1952). (David’s soreness, severe abrasions, and persistence in trying to land the prize swordfish during the fishing scene parallel the experience of Santiago as he battles the great marlin in The Old Man and the Sea.) In the mid-1940’s Hemingway spoke of a major work encompassing air, land, and sea. He worked on the project on and off well into the 1950’s, publishing The Old Man and the Sea separately...

(The entire section is 825 words.)