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Also included is a selected bibliography designed to direct readers to the most valuable resources for the study of Hemingway's short fiction. Introduction: Hemingway and the practical reader Paul Smith; 2. Second growth: the ecology of loss in 'Fathers and Sons' Susan F. Re-placing Africa in 'The Snows of Kilimanjaro': the intersecting economies of capitalist-imperialism and Hemingway biography Debra A.Moddelmog; Notes on contributors; Selected bibliography. Ernest Hemingway is one of the most gifted, oft-taught, and frequently criticized authors of the short story in the English language.Literary studies were on the whole dominated by this specific ideological vision, premised upon the Americanness of national literature.
There are thousands of academic books and articles on Hemingway.
Following his suicide in 1961, the 1960s decade saw the publication of almost four hundred serious studies on him, while in the 1970s the number increased to more than seven hundred; and the critical works, far from decreasing, have gained strength throughout the next decades (Beegel, 1996; Wagner, 1998).
An introduction and four original scholarly essays here constitute a survey of Hemingway's career as a short story writer and offer an overview of practical problems involved in reading his work.
The aim of this Hemingway special issue is not to represent the largest possible range of commentary on Hemingway’s short stories, but to look closely at their rich texture, considering them as coherent wholes and autonomous units that activate their own symbolical potentialities, and liberate under the careful gaze of the reader their poetic energies and force of connotation.
Used as a pedagogical instrument to teach one’s own ideologies, viewed as a pre-text to value and confront the commentator’s theories on gender, race, religion, or sexuality, and not as a text belonging to the in-between space conjured up by the dynamic writer-reader dyad, the Hemingway text is inevitably subjected to the ideological changes that the American society has undergone in the last four decades, instead of being valued with the literary (linguistic, rhetorical, plastic, energetic…) matter it is made of, and the artistic attention and intentions it was written with: not to represent reality, but to create one.
Most of Hemingway criticism is ideologically based and heavily influenced by the accumulated knowledge about the life and work of the writer.In much of the criticism that has been devoted to the writer’s life and work from the 1950s to the 2000s, there have appeared numerous and contradictory theories backing up an ideologically oriented interpretation of Hemingway’s work.5 One can even underline a persistent confusion between the false fiction Hemingway and his popular and academic admirers created, and the true fiction he wrote out of the intimate and precious parts of his being.Till the first half of the 1980s, the Hemingway protagonist as dealt with by most commentators is a full-fledged “white male,” supposedly the vehicle of American individualism, optimism, self-reliance, and manliness.Ben Stoltzfus (2005) sees numerous analogies between Hemingway’s works and Sartre’s and Camus’s; all three are haunted by the leitmotif of death and nothingness. This is precisely what “Three Shots” () where the older waiter’s parodic monologue (“Our nada who art in nada, nada be thy name thy kingdom nada thy will be nada […],” 383) operates as the verbal symbolization of the void, the transformation of existential “nothingness” into a verbal something and, as such, into an objective meaning.This commentator sees in Hemingway’s “African stories” the best illustration of his existential philosophy: (the void, emptiness, meaninglessness) more insistent than in Hemingway’s two African stories, ‘The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber’ and ‘The Snows of Kilimanjaro,’ because the absurd has the potential to reorient the subject toward life, and living life authentically and courageously was and is essential to happiness” (206).6 One might object, though, that what is at stake in Hemingway’s fiction is not “nada” as absolute nothingness, but “nothing” as… The perspective then is not moral or psychological but energetic and cathartic.As Kenneth Lynn shows in his original biography of Hemingway, which, not unlike Meyer’s, demythologizes the writer, the most prominent critics who influenced Hemingway criticism from the 1950s on, saw in him an idealized reflection of themselves.This imaginary identification with the writer determined their reading of him, as they stuck to the culturally reassuring significance they thought Hemingway incarnated, unnoticing the textual subtleties of his works.The image conjured up in the studies of Young, De Falco, Rovit, Baker, or Gurko is entirely determined by ideology.These commentators believed in the “Americanness” of Hemingway, and explicitly or implicitly considered his works as the “natural” reflection and confirmation of mainstream culture.Hence, the essays brought together in this volume value the textual dimension of Hemingway’s narratives, and eschew in varied degrees and manners the ideological background and the usually underlined alleged links with the reality “out there.” Close in spirit and method, they lay bare the poetic, plastic, fantasmatic matter at work in Hemingway’s short fiction, and minimize more or less radically the illusions of depth and the false mimetic knowledge of the author, in favor of the rich textual network and surface phenomena, overlooked more often than not by Hemingway’s commentators.The essays are indeed off the beaten track as they view suspiciously the overemphasized referential assumptions about Hemingway’s “Code” and its positivist and ideological implications, and his alleged moral, political, or even biographical “messages.” If they acknowledge and synthesize usefully the abundant critical work already realized on the stories under consideration, the contributors propose new ways for reading Hemingway’s (short) fiction.