Literary Techniques

The first caution when discussing techniques in True at First Light is this: the reader is dealing with an unfinished work, posthumously edited and severely cut in length without any direction from the writer. Whatever conclusions might be drawn concerning Hemingway's techniques may well need some revision when another version of the work appears, as it will in the future (a more complete edition is in the planning stages). That said, the reader may still confidently judge such matters as Hemingway's handling of point of view, especially with regard to the delicate relationship between autobiography and creative narration, or fact and fiction. All critical discussion must be premised on the recognition that this is not a mere "journal," a factual record of events. And it may be misleading to consider it a "fictionalized memoir," as it has also been called. The best description may be that of the editor who calls it "a fiction" and stresses that "ambiguous counter-point between fiction and truth lies at the heart of this memoir." Of course, this is probably true of all memoirs.

Readers familiar with Hemingway's earlier works (e.g., In Our Time and The Sun Also Rises) will recognize his deployment of familiar techniques: a modernist strategy of allusion, symbolic landscape, understatement (see Hemingway's well-known "iceberg theory" of writing and his "theory of omission"), skillful use of repetition, parallelism and counter-point, and...

(The entire section is 542 words.)