Characters in a parody such as The Torrents of Spring are necessarily stiff and stereotypical in order for the satire to work. The speech of Scripps and Yogi is full of literary allusions (to Willa Cather, H. G. Wells, et al.), as their thoughts are crowded with historical figures (Igor Stravinsky, the Haymarket anarchists). Yet their behavior is actually quite stupid: When Scripps first enters the pump-factory, for example, he is met by a sign that reads: “KEEP OUT THIS MEANS YOU. Can that mean me? Scripps wondered.” Through the Fielding epigraphs, Hemingway implies that he is satirizing the ridiculous affectations of people, and especially literary affectations among his contemporaries. Characters here are always dropping literary names— Huysmans, Ruth Suckow—and quoting, or misquoting, other writers. (“What is it that old writing fellow Shakespeare says: Might makes right’?” Scripps misremembers at one point.)
In Scripps and Yogi, Hemingway is also parodying the particular kind of primitives for which Sherwood Anderson was famous. Anderson was one of the first American writers to apply Freudian theory to literary creation, and, in his most famous work, the stories of Winesburg, Ohio (1919), one can see Sigmund Freud’s influence clearly in the rendering of internal thought and feeling. In such later works as Dark Laughter, however, Anderson’s obsession with the inner lives of his characters verges on...
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