Historically, critics have been divided on the merits of Hemingway’s work. While contemporary critics praised Hemingway’s mastery of form and narration, later critics took Hemingway to task for the limitations of his themes, for his perceived sexism, and for his extremely negative views of human life. Recent critical opinion has come to see Hemingway primarily as a stylist who has nothing profound or deeply original to say about the human condition, and although his influence on today’s short story writers is difficult to overstate, many critics today believe that Hemingway is simply not a great writer.
‘‘The Snows of Kilimanjaro’’ was first published in Esquire magazine in 1936, and first appeared in book form in his collection The Fifth Column and the First Forty-Nine Stories of 1938. At that time, critics had their first opportunity to express their opinions on the story, and most were enthusiastic. Alfred Kazin, in the Books supplement to the New York Herald Tribune, wrote that the story was simply ‘‘terrific,’’ and Edmund Wilson felt that the ending was ‘‘a wonderful piece of writing.’’ Malcolm Cowley, in the New Republic, noted that the story was ‘‘the only story in which [Hemingway] has allowed himself to be conventionally poetic.’’
Later critics used the story to discuss larger themes that recur throughout Hemingway’s writing. Mark Schorer wrote in...
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