Critical Insights: Ernest Hemingway

Critical Insights Series

The series focuses on an individual author's entire body of work, a single work of literature, or a literary theme.

At a Glance
  • 1 Volume; 300 Pages
  • 10-14 essays offering Current Critical Analysis by Top Literary Scholars
  • Introductory Essay by the Editor
  • Chronology of Author's Life
  • Complete List of Author's Works
  • Publication Dates of Works
  • Detailed Bio of the Editor
  • General Bibliography
  • General Subject Index
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Edited by Keith Newlin

Outstanding, in-depth scholarship by renowned literary critics. A great starting point for students seeking an introduction to The Sun Also Rises and the critical discussions surrounding it.

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Editor: Eugene Goodheart,
    Professor Emeritus, Brandeis University
October 2009 · 1 volume · 384 pages · 6"x9"

Includes Online Database with Print Purchase
ISBN: 978-1-58765-630-9
# of Pages: 384
# of Volumes: 1
Print List Price: $105
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e-ISBN: 978-1-58765-631-6
eBook Single User Price: $105

In-depth critical discussions of his life and works - Plus complimentary, unlimited online access to the full content of this great literary reference.

The shadow Ernest Hemingway casts over American literature is nothing less than colossal. Widely imitated, his distinctive prose style revolutionized American writing and deeply influenced an entire generation of minimalist authors like Raymond Carver and Susan Minot. His novels and short stories captured the essence of what Gertrude Stein called "the lost generation," the men and women who lived through World War I and were profoundly shaken by its violence and chaos, and launched Hemingway's reputation as an icon of stoical, American masculinity.

Edited by Eugene Goodheart, Edytha Macy Professor of Humanities Emeritus at Brandeis University, this volume brings together a wide variety of criticism on major works like The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, For Whom the Bell Tolls, The Old Man and the Sea, and Hemingway's most widely read and anthologized short stories. Original essays by Jennifer Banach Palladino, Robert C. Evans, Matthew Bolton, and Neil Heims lend context to Hemingway's life and accomplishments with their examinations of World War I and the Spanish Civil War, the critical reception of Hemingway's oeuvre, Hemingway's prose style, and the psychology and anti-Semitic strains of The Sun Also Rises. Previously published essays by renowned Hemingway scholars such as Carlos Baker, Scott Donaldson, and Mark Spilka deepen the discussion with close readings of "Hills Like White Elephants," A Farewell to Arms, and The Sun Also Rises, while reprints of more recent critical offerings discuss Hemingway's portrayals of gender, his relationships with naturalism and modernism, and his moral and artistic visions. Finally, Petrina Crockford weighs in for The Paris Review on Hemingway's larger-than-life persona and his place in American letters.

Each essay is 5,000 words in length, and all essays conclude with a list of "Works Cited," along with endnotes. Finally, the volume's appendixes offer a section of useful reference resources:

A chronology of the author's life
A complete list of the author's works and their original dates of publication
A general bibliography
A detailed paragraph on the volume's editor
Notes on the individual chapter authors
A subject index

From "About This Volume"
Ernest Hemingway’s public persona and reputation, literary style, affinity with modern painting, and conception of character are among the subjects of these commentaries on the author’s life and work. Following my general introduction, R. Baird Shuman introduces us to Hemingway’s life. In her contribution for The Paris Review, Petrina Crockford speaks of his “adventurous life as brash and uncompromising as that of his greatest characters.”

Jennifer Banach Palladino, in her essay on the cultural and historical contexts of Hemingway’s work, reminds us of the cataclysmic events of the early twentieth century (WorldWar I and the Spanish CivilWar) in which Hemingway was both participant and observer, and Robert C. Evans traces the vicissitudes of his extraordinary reputation. Matthew Bolton contrastsWilliam Faulkner’s Baroque style with Hemingway’s pared-down prose, noting, however, the capacity of each writer to employ the other’s style when necessary. These opening essays provide contexts for close readings of Hemingway’s major works.

A chapter from Carlos Baker’s landmark 1963 study Hemingway: The Writer as Artist points up the “half-symbolic” resonances of his deceptively plain style. In a close reading of “Hills Like White Elephants,” an elusive and elliptical short story about an impending abortion, Hilary K. Justice adjudicates between conflicting interpretations of the story. Following the lead of Lillian Ross’s interview of Hemingway, Ron Berman demonstrates the writer’s affinity with Paul Cézanne in his use of reiteration, revealing Hemingway’s naturalism to be a version of abstract art. Neil Heims’s essay on The Sun Also Rises shows how the other characters in the novel are projections of conflicts within the protagonist and narrator, Jake Barnes. Heims addresses the role of anti-Semitism in the novel and attempts to answer the vexed question of whether anti-Semitic attitudes should be attributed to Hemingway as well as to the characters in the novel.

George Cheatham takes up Scott Donaldson’s controversial view that the moral code of The Sun Also Rises consists in the exact and equal “exchange of values.” He argues to the contrary that value in Jake Barnes’s behavior emerges from a generosity of spirit that rises above the transactive (money) language that figures human relationships in the novel. Frederic Henry, the wounded protagonist of Hemingway’s World War I novel A Farewell to Arms, emerges from Scott Donaldson’s account, or, as Donaldson might say, from Henry’s own narrative, as less a man of action than a character absorbing the blows of fate. It is his lover Catherine Barkley who, in her willingness to sacrifice herself for him, is the moral hero of the novel. Mark Spilka has a similar view of Frederic Henry. In a detailed argument, he sets the evolution of the Hemingway hero from the apparent stoic manliness of Jake Barnes in The Sun Also Rises to the feminine vulnerability of Henry, already foreshadowed in Jake Barnes, against the background of Hemingway’s relationships with his wives.

Viewing A Farewell to Arms through the feminist lens of Regeneration, Pat Barker’s novel of World War I, Diane Price Herndl sees what Hemingway’s masculine ethos prevents him from seeing: “the self-destructiveness of wartime masculinity.” Acknowledging flaws in For Whom the Bell Tolls, A. Robert Lee nevertheless makes a detailed and forceful case for the artistic integrity of the novel.

With the sensitivity of a literary critic, Philip Melling provides an anthropological perspective on The Old Man and the Sea. Turning his back on his own culture, the protagonist Santiago has internalized the values of American popular culture, invoking his hero Joe DiMaggio in his heroic struggle with the fish, in effect failing to appreciate what Hemingway appreciates, the knowledge of the sea contained in Cuban folklore and witchcraft and the historical legacy of slavery. In the concluding essay, Louis A. Renza moves back and forth between the two “bookends” of Hemingway’s career, In Our Time and A Moveable Feast, in his reflections on the tension between “the self-referential act of writing” and “the perceptual immediacy of the referential scene.” He also addresses Hemingway’s need for isolation and the ambiguous effects of his immense public persona on his writing.