Selected Literary Criticism in The Old Man And The Sea

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1. Edward Wagenknecht: Hemingway’s Concern with the Meaning of Life

      The brutality of the Hemingway fiction has led many readers to think of the author as a kind of caveman of literature. Nothing could be farther from truth. Hemingway has the sensitive modern’s interest not only in literature, painting, and music, but in the problem of the meaning and values of human life.

2. Stanley Cooperman and Murray Cohen: The Role of Biography in Hemingway's Works

      Three elements in Hemingway’s life shaped many of his attitudes, and indeed shaped much of his work: the fact that in World War I, he suffered a painful and terrible mortar wound, which made him conscious of the dread possibilities of the loss of manhood; the fact that his father committed suicide; and the fact of his growing old... and the fears created by old age itself. Similar to Frederic Henry in A Farewell to Arms. Jake Barnes-in The Sun Also Rises, and Santiago in The Old Man and The Sea, Hemingway was afflicted with the fear of letting go and the fear of thinking. The nightmare of chaos, of passivity, loss of will, loss of initiative, loss of masculine role-was a terrible nightmare, and one to be avoided at all costs.

3. Earl Rovit: Hemingway Triumphs Despite Serious Handicaps

      Almost all of Hemingway’s significant contemporaries possessed talents which were beyond his ability. Faulkner’s fecundity of imagination and invention far surpassed his. He never learned how to dramatize and give poetic life to the abstractions of ideas, as Eliot could so handsomely do. He lacked Thomas Wolfe’s torrential self-confidence. He was completely without the fine sense of scenario and the light touch of wit which could bring straight exposition to life, as in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s work. He did not have the dodged seriousness of vision and hysterical curiosity that his friend John Dos Passos possessed. He could not tell a story with the effortless charm that Steinbeck assumed so naturally. And he never knew how to create the kind of scene in which social normality parades in convincing figures the kind of scene which Sinclair Lewis or John P. Marquand could do with their left hands. In fact, he lacked almost all the tools which fiction writers have traditionally employed as their basic stock irr trade. He had only what seems to have been a tormented zeal to find out who he was by writing it out of himself, a measure of personal integrity which rarely faltered and a genius for adapting the limited resources and materials that he did possess into a brilliantly harmonic fusion.

4. Leo Gurko: The Code Hero Lays Down The Toughest Conditions for Himself

      In creating his major characters “Hemingway discarded the encyclopedic technique (of Dickens and George Eliot). Instead, he evaluated his men and women by their reaction to some deliberately contrived strain. He is interested in them only, to the degree that they are under pressure, and indeed approaches them in no other way. The crisis situation, the breaking point, is his chief, almost his sole concern. His principal aim is to measure the capacity to endure under difficulties. The normal moments in life, when men function within ordinary capacities, are scarcely presented in Hemingway. It is the outer limit of energy and tension that absorb him. ‘Hemingway avoids the more common practical situations in life,’ wrote Joseph Warren Beach, ‘business, farming, the professions, politics, family life...where one is seldom confronted with life-and-death predicaments and the naked primary emotions. His people are confined to occupations like sport, war, drinking and love, where every day brings its showdown.’...How they manage to live with calamity is the main business of the novels...He is essentially a moralist, drawing fine distinctions between the right and the wrong response. The right response is invariably the heroic one: Jake  living his second-best life up to the hilt, Jordan ignoring the doom hanging over his assignment yet executing the plan perfectly, the dying Cantwell acting as though he were in perfect physical condition, Santiago determined to fish in the deepest part of the Gulf Stream despite the odds against him.

5. Delmore Schwartz: The Assertion of Masculinity in Hemingway’s Works

       And every American of Hemingway’s generation has known the most exalted expectations and the most desperate disasters. Living through the First World War, the great era of prosperity, the Crash, the long depression the Second World War, and a new era of prosperity, he has been subjected to the American Dream’s giddy, unpredictable, magical, tragic, and fabulous juggernaut. It is thus natural enough that the Hemingway hero should always feel threatened, always in danger, always subject what the sociologists call ‘status panic.’ A society committed to the American Dreams is one which creates perpetual social mobility but also one in which the individual must suffer perpetual insecurity of status as the price of being free of fixed status. Hence the Hemingway hero is always afraid of failure, no matter how often he has succeeded, which is precisely what the old fisherman says: “I will show him what a man is and what he endures. The thousand times that he had proved it meant nothing. Now he was proving it again. Each time was a new time.” This is the reason that the Hemingway hero must continually assert his masculinity: he may always lose it, as he may always lose his strength, his youth, his health, his skills, his success, and thus his sense of selfhood.

      Of all modern novelists it is Hemingway who has written the most complete moral history of the American Dream in the twentieth century: the greatest of human dream is the beginning of heartbreaking. hope and despair; its promise is the cause of overwhelming ambition and overwhelming anxiety: the anxiety and the hope make courage an obsession and an endless necessity in the face of endless fear and insecurity; but the dream, the hope, the anxiety, and the courage began with the discovery of America.

6. Edgar Johnson: The Deceptive Simplicity of Hemingway's Style

      The simplicity of Hemingway’s style is not the simplicity of ‘Sherwood Anderson, so little removed from childishness but a simplicity that has passed through the sophisticated criticism of ‘Gertrude Stein, the simplicity of an analytical mind that has deliberately rejected complexity as a method. It seems simple because it is stripped and transparent but it is packed with cumulative suggestions revealing depth within depth that may be overlooked on a first reading.

7. The Literature of America: Hemingway's Devotion to Truth

      It is for more than his style and the influence it had that Hemingway is remembered. It is for a way of looking at things - nature, violence, death...for a mystique, a brutal contempt for sham, a touching, somehow already old fashioned, regard for truth.

8. Marcus Cunliffe: The Relationship Between Experience and Writing in Hemingway

      Hemingway is a writer of remarkable gifts. His initial contribution, in the novel and in the short stories has had an extraordinary influence upon others: so much so that the innumerable imitations of Hemingway have almost spoiled one’s palate for the genuine article. But on re-reading, his first novels and his best stories are still powerful and fresh. Rigorously confining himself to the matter in hand, refusing the aid of literary artifices, Hemingway extracts an amazing richness from his rare excursions below the surface of the narrative. In A Farewell to Arms, for example, the rhythm of the seasons is unobtrusively matched to the course of the campaign, with no editorializing from the author. Victory comes in the spring. In the autumn it is otherwise:

      There was fighting for that mountain too, but it was not successful, and in the fall when the rains came the leaves all fell from the chestnut trees and the branches were bare and the trunks black with rain.

      Hemingway was a careful writer who never hurried into print. Revealing (in The Green Hills of Africa) a curious embarrassment at the thought that he might be mistaken for an artist, he has justified his occupation to himself as a craft, requiring the same, slow, hard apprenticeship as fishing or any other skill. Though he does reveal in his choice of title that he was aware of literature - a man who might be a subscriber, as he was in fact, to Partisan Review. H he was liable to exalt from to the detriment of content he followed his craft faithfully. Within his own framework of motive and event, he was virtuoso. For instance, when he reproduces the speech of people who are not English (notably in For Whom the Bell Tolls, 1940, where he is among Spanish peasantry), he renders their words in an ingenious ‘translated’ English which reminds the reader that they are actually speaking in Spanish. Again, in For Whom the Bell Tolls he shows himself perfectly able to handle educated people whose emotions and ideas are complex.

9. Ernest Hemingway: Hemingway Explains His Creative Process

      If it is any use to known it, I always try to write on the principle of the iceberg. There is seven-eighth of it underwater for every part that shows. Anything you know you can eliminate and it only strengthens your iceberg. It is the part that doesn’t show. If a writer omits something because he does not know it then there is a hole in the story.

      Old Man and The Sea could have been over a thousand pages long and have every character in the village in it and all the processes of how they made their living, were born, educated, bore children, etc. That is done excellently and well by other writers. In writing you are limited by what has already been done satisfactorily. So I have tried to learn to do something else. First I have tried to eliminate everything unnecessary to conveying experience to the reader so that after he or she has read something it will become a part of his or her experience and seem actually to have happened. This is very hard to do and I’ve worked at it very hard.

      Anyway, to skip how it is done, I had unbelievable luck this time and could convey the experience completely and have it be one that no one had ever conveyed. The luck was that I had a good man and a good boy and lately writers have forgotten there still are such things. Then the ocean is worth writing about just as man is. So I was lucky there. I’ve seen the marlin mate and know about that. So I leave that out. I’ve seen a school (of pod) of more than fifty sperm whales in that same stretch of water and once harpooned one nearly sixty feet in length and lost him. So I left that out. All the stories I know from the fishing village I leave out. But the knowledge is what makes the underwater part of the iceberg.

10. Philip Toynbee: The Literariness of the The Old Man and The Sea

      The Old Man and The Sea, might be described as a long short story: but it marks no return at all to the special talents which Hemingway had so long ago abandoned. It is a stuffed book-stuffed with the burden of all the these which had been written about Hemingway’s message and philosophy. The demands which it makes on us are crudely ‘literary’. In. fact, it sounds like that penultimate note of a musical scale which creates a sense of intolerable incompletion in our ears. What must follow, of course, are the hundred exegeses. The book is doctor-bait, professor-bait. And the modern critic of Hemingway should read this nonsense carefully and then re-read The Killers or The Undefeated. Let us by all means be respectful towards each other, but I cannot believe that any sane critic would fail to see what has happened in the long interval. This is one of the genuine literary tragedies of our time.

11. Leo Gurko: Santiago: A Rediscovered Hero

      After the First World War the traditional hero disappeared from Western literature. He was replaced in one form or another by Mr. K., the harassed victim of the haunting, nightmarish novels of Franz Kafka. Hemingway’s protagonists from Nick Adams on were hemmed in like Mr. K. by a bewildering and menacing cosmos. The huge complex mushrooming of technology and urban society began to smother the individual’s sense of identity and freedom of action. In his own life Hemingway tended to avoid the industrialized countries, including his own, and was drawn to the primitive places of Spain, Africa, and Cuba. There, the ancient struggle and harmony between man and nature still existed, and the heroic possibilities so attractive to Hemingway’s temperament had freer play. In the drama of Santiago, a drama entirely outside the framework of modern society and its institutions, he was able to bring these possibilities to their full fruition, and rediscover, in however specialized a context, the hero lost in the twentieth century.

12. Claire Rosenfield: The Marlin as the Totem Animal

      As A.R. Radcliffe-Brown posited in 1929, the totem animal of a group is often the one upon which one’s subsistence depends. Both man and boy regard their numerous prey as part of the same order of created beings, part of the same human society. Having once hooked the female of a pair of marlins, they pity the reaction of the distraught male. ‘That was the saddest thing I ever saw with them...The boy was sad too and we begged her pardon and butchered her promptly.’ To the fish he has just hooked after eighty-four, ‘unlucky’ days Santiago says, ‘I love you and respect you very much. But I will kill you dead before this day ends’. He calls the fish both ‘friend’ and ‘brother’ and regrets that he must ‘live on the sea and kill (his) true brothers’. How demeaning that those who will feed upon him will not be worthy of him. ‘There is no one worthy of eating him from the manner of his behavior and his great dignity.’ Not simply ‘great fish, his cap or assigns to the marlin the quality of human thought: he is following his own plan’ as he circles; the old man must ‘convince’ his prey; the marlin may ‘decide to stay another night.’ The very desire to prove worthy of this creature’s admiration provides additional strength to Santiago’s weakening body. ‘Let him think I am more man than I am and I will be so’. The same fish once dead and lashed to his boat is no less dignified, no less a part of communal life. ‘With his mouth shut and his tail straight up and down we sailed like brothers’. When the gallant opponent is first mutilated by the sharks, Santiago thinks ‘it was as though he himself were hit.’ And when these ‘bad smelling’ sharks, these ‘scavengers as well as killers,’ devour the marlin, Santiago can only murmur ‘I am sorry, fish.’ If the totem animal of a group also reflects the society in some way, then this noble marlin reflects the qualities Santiago possesses, admires, and wishes to hand on to the boy: nobility, ‘greatness,’ and ‘glory,’ endurance, dignity, and beauty.

      And in his defeat, in his desecration by scavengers, he symbolizes Santiago, who is ridiculed by younger fishermen, who is regarded as strange and ‘unlucky’, whose final triumph is destroyed by sharks.

13. Sylvester: The Individual Redeems the Community

      There is indeed in The Old Man and The Sea a greater tolerance shown toward the total community than ever before in Hemingway’s work. But rather than interdependence, there is implied the dependence of the many upon one, of the passive community upon a potent individual redeemer who, in his dependence upon a principle basic to universal order, is independent of all men. This is the implication of the Calvary illusions and it is, furthermore, consistent with the individualism stressed by the system of natural parallels throughout the story.

      The majority was not born to be like him (Santiago) and yet, dependent on him, it has its place in the world, Thus, I suggest, we can account for Santiago’s compassionate understanding of the shallow water fishermen, without forcing ourselves to ignore the positive emphasis upon exceptional achievement in the story.

14. Arvin R. Wells: The Richness of Symbolism in The Old Man and The Sea'

      When the old man reaches shore he has only the skeleton of the marlin. The experience has been stripped of its practical and material aspects, and even the great skeleton is at last only so much more garbage waiting to go out with the tide. At most it serves to give the other fishermen a clue to what the struggle must have been; to the outsiders, the man and woman tourists who look down from the terrace, it is all but meaningless. They perceive some strange beauty in the thing itself, but they cannot distinguish even the elementary terms of the experience.

‘I didn’t know, sharks had such handsome, beautifully formed tails
‘I didn’t either; her male companion said.
“Having lost his fish to the least worthy of opponents, the shovelnose sharks that are just movings appetites, even the old man is not clear about what he has accomplished, and the boy, Manolin, whose admiration and pity counter-point the old man’s humility must order the experience for him.

‘They beat me, Manolin,’ he said. ‘They truly beat me.’
He didn’t beat you. Not the fish.’
No. Truly. It was afterward.’

      Finally, the old fisherman seems almost indifferent to the great struggle; he is beyond it; it is complete in itself, and the others may take from it what they can: the head of the marlin to Pedrico, the spear to Manolin, the uncomprehending glimpse of the skeleton to the two tourists. But the gap between what the experience has actually been and what the others can gather from the remains is strongly suggested by the total lack of connection between their concern with the skeleton and the dream of the lions which fills the old man’s sleep at the close of the story.

      In a sense, the old man’s final reward for having endured is the freedom which he finally has to dream, uninterrupted, of the lions that he had once seen playing like cats upon the shores of Africa and that somehow now are ‘the main thing that is left.’ The dream has come before during the story, but always before the old man was called back to a reality of further action and further suffering. Now, that reality is held at a distance. For the old man there is a childlike happiness and reassurance in seeing the great beasts at play. What the lions represent beyond this is broadly suggested by the details of the dream in their relation to the general pattern of action and symbol.

      The lions, traditionally, are the noblest of the great beasts in comparison with which man according to the old fisherman, is not much.’ They are the kings of the jungle, primal nature, which they dominate by their courage, their strength, their fierceness and their supposed pride. They are both like and unlike the great marlin; like him in that they have the qualities that redeem life and are in this way the lords of life; unlike him in that their beauty and nobility are compounded with fierceness and therefore inspire not only awe but fear. In the dream, however, the lions come out from the jungle and down into the beach to play on the sand; they have put aside their majesty and have grown domestic and familiar. It is as if they gave themselves up to the old man, to his love, without the necessity of further trial or guilt or suffering.

      As the lions come out of the jungle and fill the old man’s sleep, their cat-like playfulness, free of threat or challenge suggests a harmony between the old man and the heroic qualities which, the lions possess and the giant marlin possessed and which the old man has fought to realize in himself. Most simply, perhaps, they suggest and achieve intimacy between the old man and the proud and often fierce heart of nature that for him is the repository of values.

15. Phillip Rahv: Denotation and Connotation in The Old Man and The Sea

      The premise of the story - its moral premise at any rate is the purity and bravery of Santiago, the Cuban fisherman. And given Hemingway’s habitual attitude of toughness coupled with sentimentality, one can easily make out the chief threat to the integrity of the writing; and it is in fact to the circumvention of sentimentality that the story owes its success. The two scenes (in which the boy displays his adoration of Santiago) that are not quite exempt from the charge of sentimentality are but indirectly related to the action. They form a lyrical prelude and postlude to the action, which is presented in fictional terms that are hard and clear. And it is saved from false sentiment by Hemingway’s wonderful feeling for the sea and its creatures - a feeling that he is able to objectify with as much care and devotion as he lavishes on the old man. This creates the rare effect of our perceiving the old man and the fish he catches as if they existed, like a savage and his totem, within the same psychic continuum. No. wonder that at the height of his battle with the fish Santiago exclaims, ‘You are killing me, fish... But you have right to. Never have I seen a greater, or more beautiful or a calmer or more noble thing than you, brother. Come on and kill me. I do not care who kills who.’

      When all this has been said, however, one is still left with the impression that the creative appeal of this narrative is forceful yet restricted, its quality of emotion genuine but so elemental in its totality as to exact nothing from us beyond instant assent. It exhibits the credentials of the authentic, but in itself it promises very little by way of an advance beyond the positions already won in the earlier phases of Hemingway’s career. To be sure, if one is to judge by what some of the reviewers have been saying and by the talk heard among literary people, the meaning of The Old Man and The Sea. is to be sought in its deep symbolism. It may be that the symbolism is really there, though I for one have been unable to locate it. I suspect that here again the characteristic attempt of the present literary period is being made to overcome the reality of the felt experience of art by converting it to some moral of spiritual platitude. It goes without saying that the platitude is invariably sublimated through the newly modish terms of myth and symbolism. As Lionel Trilling reported in a recent essay, students have now acquired ‘a trick of speaking of money in Dostoevsky’s novel as ‘symbolic’, as if no one ever needed or spent, or gambled, or squandered the stuff and as if to think of it as an actuality were sub-literary.’ Perhaps this latter-day tendency accounts for the inflationary readings that Hemingway’s story has received, readings that typically stress some kind of schematism of spirit at the expense of the action so lucidly represented in its pages. Hemingway’s big marlin is no Moby Dick, and his fisherman is not Captain Ahab nor was meant to be. It is enough praise to, say that their existence is real, and that their encounter is described in a language at once relaxed and disciplined which is a source of pleasure. In art, as Wallace Stevens once put it, ‘Description is revelation. It is not. The thing described, nor false facsimile.’ And I would suggest to the ingenious interpreters that they look to the denotations of a work of literature before taking off into the empyrean of pure connotation.

16. John W. Aldridge: The Absence of Psychic Dimensions in The Old Man and The Sea

      Standing alone and constituting the whole show as it does the The Old Man and The Sea, Santiago’s contest can have only a limited significance and a low-grade dramatic impact. For according to the artistic formula which served Hemingway well in his fine early novels, such contest was never meant to stand alone.

      Not only was it not the whole show. It was not even the main show. In fact, the entire class of physically contesting artists in whom he always displayed such intense interest-the bull-fighters, big game hunters, and fishermen were never given more than secondary importance in his best work. They were significant only as they had metaphorical relation to another and darker drama which was and remains Hemingway’s great subject, a drama played out on the psyche rather than the physical level, within the tormented consciousness of utterly unheroic hero. His fear was not of physical death or defeat but of nervous breakdown and. moral collapse. He was obsessed with the possibility that under pressure he might lose control of himself and go berserk--cease, in effect, to be the disciplined master of his fears, the artful matador, and become the raging bull. Hence, the skill and courage of the matador, the care and patience required to land a big fish or track game, held special fascination or him.

      The contest of sport was an analog of the contest of nerve Hemingway was earring in, but it was actualized and highly disciplined analog in which real rather than phantom panels were confronted and vanquished, and therefore through which the hero could purge his fears and achieve a vicarious victory over his dramatized the vital connection between the world of artful physical action and the world of modern dislocated sensibility.

      It seems apparent that with The Old Man and The Sea the emotional compulsion behind this dramatic design had faded in Hemingway to the point where only a vaguely remembered but now quite lifeless pattern of responses remained. There are no more fears of nervous breakdown, no more terrors to haunt the hero and charge the language with all the taut apprehensiveness of a nightmare passage through a minefield. What was always secondary and illustrative before has become primary and illustrative of nothing beyond itself. The physical contest now in The Old Man and The Sea is simply physical contest.

17. Bradley, Beatty & Long: The Relationship Between Experience and Writing in Hemingway

      Like Stephen Crane whom he admired as the naturalistic, war novelist, Hemingway embraced the cult of experience. Note his Journalistic engagements on behalf of the Spanish loyalists between 1936 and 1940: or again on behalf of liberal causes in the war-torn 40’s as correspondent in China, and in the air over France, and on the Normandy beach. Crane’s thirst for life was fatal and Hemingway’s nearly as compelling. In The Green Hills of Africa, he asserted his creed ‘to write as well as I can and learn as I go along. At the same time I have my life, which is a damned good life. You could only write ‘what you truly felt’ and never ‘when there is no water in the well. Death became, in his fiction, the extreme limit of experience and the final test of the genuine ordeal. Death appears in his writing in violent forms, or understated as ‘bad luck’ or symbolically projected as mutilation or sterility in Jace Barnes, Nick Adams, and the protagonists of To Have and Have Not (1937) and Across the River and Into the Trees (1950) his two so-called “failures”.

18. Carlos Baker: The Toughness of The Modern American Woman in Hemingway’s Works

      Easily the most unscrupulous of Hemingway’s fictional females,
Margot Macomber covets her husband’s money but values even more her power over him. To Wilson, the Macomber’s paid white hunter who is drawn very reluctantly into the emotional mess of a wrecked marriage, Margot exemplified most of the American wives he has met in the course of his professional life. Although his perspectives are limited to the international sporting set, the indictment is severe. These women, he reflects are ‘the hardest in the world; the hardest, the cruelest, the most predatory, and the most attractive, and their men have softened or gone to pieces nervously as they have hardened.’ With Margot in mind, this story might well have carried the title which Hemingway attached to one of his despatches from Tanganyika to Esquire: ‘Notes on Dangerous Game.’ The lion and the buffalo are vanquishable in a way that Margot is not.

19. Clinton S. Burhans: Santiago’s Sin

      For in killing the great marlin and in losing him to the sharks, the old man learns the sin into which men inevitably fall by going far out beyond their depth, beyond their true place in life... and after he has killed the marlin, he feels no pride of accomplishment, no sense of victory. Rather, he seems to feel almost as though he has betrayed the great fish: ‘I am only better than him through trickery,’ he thinks, ‘and he meant no harm.’

20. Clinton S. Burhans: The Curse of Isolated Individualism

      Santiago is Harry Morgan alive again and grown old; for what comes to Morgan in a sudden and unexpected revelation as he lies dying is the matrix of the old fisherman’s climactic experience. Since 1937, Hemingway has been increasingly concerned with the relationship between individualism and interdependence; and The Old Man and The Sea is the culminating expression of this concern in its reflection of Hemingway’s mature view of the tragic irony of man’s fate: that no abstraction can bring man an awareness and understanding of the solidarity and inter-dependence without which life is impossible; he must learn as it has always been truly learned, through the agony of active and isolated individualism in a universe which dooms such individualism.

21. Walter Allen: The Importance of Code in Hemingway

      The code is as much aesthetic as ethical, which no doubt explains Hemingway’s devotion to the bull-ring and to big-game hunting, in which the confrontation of violent death is turned into ritual or an elaborate game. Insisting upon nothingness, Hemingway asserts violently man’s dignity in the face of nothingness. Man dies: it is intolerable that a man should die less than well, with a sense of style; and as a man dies, so should he live.

22. Walter Allen: The Life of Senses in Hemingway

      Against the great abstractions Hemingway set the small concrete nouns, the names of things one could be sure of that could be tested by the evidence of the senses. He said he wrote Death in the Afternoon to tell honestly the things I have found true about bullfighting. He wrote his novels and stories in order to tell honestly the things he had found true about life; but his criterion of truth was almost what could be assessed in terms of physical impact. It was the one thing he could be sure of. It was both his limitation as a writer and the source of his power. It meant that he was debarred from the expression of whole areas of human experience; it also made him an unrivaled interpreter of the life of physical sensation, of the exhilaration of hunting and fishing, of violent exercise, and of the primitive emotions, love and death. For Hemingway honesty to what is felt is all.

23. E.M. Halliday: Irony in Hemingway’s Works

      It would be foolish to argue that the work of any first-rate writer owes its success exclusively or even predominantly to any one narrative artifice. Hemingway has used techniques of symbolism and techniques of irony and used them well; what we want in criticism is an even view of his use of these and other artistic resources that does not exaggerate one at the expense of others. A point deserving great attention and emphasis about this writer is his devotion to the implicit rather than the explicit mode: and both symbolism and irony truly serve this artistic purpose. Hemingway, in fact, stirs thought as to the inter-relationship of these two kinds of ambiguity. It is remarkable how often they operate together in his stories: an ironic fact, perception, or event on the primary level may epitomize an irony in a broader context, and thus doubly deserve selection and accurate report by the narrator. As an illustration of the early effort to communicate “what really happened in action,” Hemingway tells in Death in the Afternoon how he worked' on the problem of accurately depicting a certain bull-fight incident:

Waking in the night I tried to remember what it was that seemed just out of my remembering and that was the thing that I had really seen and, finally, remembering all around it, I got it. When he stood up, his face white and dirty and the silk of his breeches opened from waist to knee, it was the dirtiness of the rented breeches, the dirtiness of his slit underwear and the clean, clean, unbearably clean whiteness of the thighbone that I had seen, and it was that which was important.

      Clearly, it was the startling irony of the contrast that struck Hemingway here as ‘important’; but certainly (if not so clearly) there is also the symbolic suggestion of another contrast going far beyond the physical - the ironically pathetic gap, perhaps between the matador’s professional failure and his untouched inner pride which is the subject of The Undefeated.

      In a fictional narrative the double operation, ironic and symbolic, can often be seen more sharply; take The Old Man and The Sea, where in effect the same subject is dramatized. The old fisherman’s physical triumph in catching the great fish is ironically cut down or transmuted-into spiritual triumph by the marauding sharks who leave him with only the skeleton of the largest marlin ever seen in Cuba. Without working out the metaphor in precise terms it can be said that the irony of the event itself would hardly be so effective without the broadening and deepening of its implication through symbolic suggestion.

24. E.M.Halliday: Symbolic Elements in Hemingway's Works

      Hemingway, as far as I know, has never written allegory notwithstanding the bright interpretations of The Old Man and The Sea that illuminated cocktail parties a few years ago when it was published in Life-and for a very good reason. In successful allegory, the story on the primary level is dominated by the story on the secondary level, and if the allegorical meaning is to be kept clear, its naturalistic counterpart must pay for it by surrendering realistic probability in one way or another. A strain is imposed on the whole narrative mechanism, for mere connotative symbolism will not do to carry the allegory; there must be a denotative equation, part for part, between symbols and things symbolized in order to identify the actors and action on the allegorical level. The extreme difficulty of satisfactorily conducting the dual action throughout a prolonged narrative is classically illustrated by The Faerie Queene and by The Pilgrim's Progress. The allegorist who admires realism is constantly pulled in two directions at once, and is very lucky when he can prevent one or the other of his meanings from unbalancing him.

      Still Hemingway has used the symbolism of association to convey by implication his essential meaning from the time of his earliest American publication. It may well be that this was inevitable for a writer starting out with Hemingway’s determination to communicate, as he Put it (in Death in the Afternoon) ‘what really happened in action; what the actual things were which produced the emotion that you experienced.’ Nothing could more clearly differentiate Hemingway’s kind of realism from Zolaesqe's naturalistic description than this early statement of intent. Everything is to depend on judicious discrimination of objective details: what really happened is not by any means everything that happened; it is only ‘the actual things which produced the emotion that you experienced’. As a matter of fact ‘produced’ is a little too strict, as Hemingway demonstrates again and again in The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms, where he depends heavily on the technique of objective epitome—a symbolist technique, if you like—to convey the subjective conditions of his characters. The details selected are not so much those which produce the emotion as those which epitomize it; it is the action of the story which has produced the emotion. Thus at the crisis of The Sun Also Rises, when Jake Barnes, presents Brett to Pedro Romero - Pandarism for which he is obliged to hate himself - his agonized feelings are not discussed, but are nevertheless most poignantly suggested by the perceptions he reports:

When I came back and looked in the cafe, twenty minutes, later, Brett and Pedro Romero were gone. The coffee glasses and our three empty cognac glasses were on the table. A waiter came with a cloth and picked up the glasses and mopped off the table.

      In A Farewell to Arms, Frederic Henry goes dully out for breakfast from the Swiss maternity hospital where Catherine Barkley is fighting, for life in ominously abnormal labor:

Outside along the street were the refuse cans from the houses waiting for the collector. A dog was nosing at one of the cans.

“What do you want?” I asked and looked in the can to see if there was anything I could pull out for him; there was nothing on top but coffee- grounds, dust and some dead flowers.

“There isn’t anything, dog,” I said.

      There is, of course, a larger sense, germane to all good fiction, in which Hemingway may be said to be symbolic in his narrative method: the sense which indicates his typical creation of key characters who are representative on several levels. We thus find Jake Barnes’s war-wound impotence a kind of metaphor for the whole atmosphere of sterility and frustration which is the ambiance of The Sun Also Rises; we find Catherine Barkley’s naive simplicity and warmth the right epitome for the idea and ideal of normal civilian home life to which Frederic Henry deserts; we find the old
Cuban fishermen in same way representative of the whole human race in its natural struggle for survival.

25. Richard Chase: Hemingway's Characters are Individuals and Not Social Types

      We understand characters in Melville and Hemingway, as we do in most American writers, by what they are at heart. And this is not shown to us, except superficially, by their differences in manners, because the decorum they display is their personal way of living what they believe in or doing what they are fated to do. We are asked by these novelists to judge characters, not by measuring them against socially derived values but by their adherence to an idea of conduct which is personal, intuitive, and stoic, and which, though it may come round to the universal values of Christianity and democracy, does so without much social mediation.

26. Richard Chase: Hemingivay’s Debt to Huckleberry Finn

      The language of Huckleberry Finn is a perfect vehicle for the hard, common-sense realism for which the book is famous and which, as much as the language itself, gives the book its important place as a precursor of modern literature. The author always seems to know when a detailed inventory of objects will be effective, and he sometimes makes these very detailed indeed. He knows too when to suppress detail, as in his descriptions of the raft. He gives a fairly factual account of the raft-how it was built, how it was steered, how Huck and Jim built the tepee on a raised platform, how they cooked fish and coffee. And yet the raft is rather vague in detail, perhaps because it is most important for what people feel about it and what they do and say on it. Pap’s cabin in the woods, the “house of death” that floats down the river, the Grangerford house, these are described, particularly their contents, with more factual precision than the raft.

      The greatness of Huckleberry Finn is in the simple clairvoyance of the truth it tells. Huck Finn, our observer and narrator, sees everything with the same passive clarity and the same total lack of distortion with which he sees the most ordinary stick, stone, or fishhook. Unspeakable violence and cruelty, fraudulence and pretense, sordidness and glory, the sublime and ridiculous, pride and humility-all these are to be seen in the strong, representative episodes that epitomize so much of American civilization as they unfold before Huck on the trip down the river. This realism would not be a triumph if behind the impassive mask Huck remained unfeeling. But his feelings are strong, his reticences sensitive, and sympathies and resentments plain. Nor. do these feelings affect the cool steadfastness with which he sees and reports fact. In later writers such as Stephen Crane and Hemingway we encounter the same impassive clairvoyance, yet at no time do these authors succeed in reporting so much of the essential reality of a civilization?

27. Robert P. Weeks: The Sense of Life and Death in Hemingway’s Works

      Heminway understood suffering, like the Old Masters in Auden’s poem Musee des Beaux Arts—that it occurs while some-one else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along or watching carts hurrying down a slope. In The Killers, to take another example, after Nick' warns Ole Anderson that the killers are lying in wait for him, Nick encounters Mrs. Bell, the woman who runs the rooming house he lives in. Mrs. Bell is utterly unaware of Ole’s situation. She thinks he has stayed in all day because “he don’t feel well.” She plays in this story the same function as the torturer’s horse in the renaissance painting of the crucifixion described in Auden’s poem. While the martyrdom is running its bloody course, the horse ‘scratches its innocent behind on a tree.’ Again, in the superb story, The Capital of the World, the boy Paco is mortally wounded while practicing a bull-fighting manoeuver in the Madrid pension where he works as a waiter. Paco bleeds to death in the deserted dining room after calmly instructing a fellow waiter, ‘Advise one of the priests’, and meanwhile his two older sisters sit in a nearby theatre watching Greta Garbo in Anna Christie. The story ends with the comment that the Garbo movie ‘disappointed all Madrid for a week’. Even in A Clean, Well-Lighted Place, the burden of the story is carried by the contrast between a young, unaware waiter who has no feeling for a desperate old man who dreads leaving the clean, well—lighted cafe, and a middle-aged waiter who knows what it is to experience the horror of nothingness. The older waiter describes the contrast in terms that apply as well to Mrs. Bell, the tourists in The Old Man and The Sea, and the other impervious characters so essential to Hemingway’s view of the world: ‘Some lived in it and never felt in but he knew it was all nada.’

      With consummate art in these works and stories—art so, unobtrusive as to excite the charge of not; being art at all—Hemingway confers on a seemingly routine experience affecting ordinary people a cosmic significance. And his style, far from being a series of surface mannerisms, reveals itself to be a way of looking at the world and expressing an attitude of tense resignation in the face of inevitable suffering and defeat. In the characters that do not share the secret, either because they are insensitive like the narrator in Old Man at the Bridge, or have no way of knowing it like Mrs. Bell in The Killers. Hemingway mirrors man’s fate as he sees it and shows us that suffering and death, even when heroically endured are a lonely and personal affair.

28. Robert P. Weeks: The Ending of The Old Man and The Sea

      The most recent example is found in The Old Man and The Sea. The novel ends with a party of tourists sitting in a cafe, the Terrace, looking down into the water, and seeing Santiago’s marlin with its great long white spine and the huge tail at the end of it. One of them, a woman, asks the waiter what it is and he says “Eshark” in an effort to explain what had happened to the marlin. She then remarks:

‘I didn’t know sharks had such handsome, beautifully formed tails.’
‘I didn’t either,’ her male companion said.

      Up the road, in his shack, the old man was sleeping again. He was still sleeping on his face and the boy was sitting by him watching him. The old man was dreaming about the lions.

      The tourists with their flat, matter-of-fact unawareness speak of the uninitiated, the insensitive majority oblivious to the suffering and the gallantry of the Hemingway hero. But the tourists are worse than unaware; they completely misconstrue the evidence available to them. The hare facts of their unawareness are stated economically and without emphasis--except for the emphasis of “placement” at the end of the story. The effect of the tourists, uncomprehending response is to intensify the poignancy of the hero’s, suffering and to arouse the reader’s. compassion and identification with him.

      Hemingway’s fishermen, soldiers, waiters, and other limited and seemingly unpromising characters are generally elevated by this strategy to persons deserving our attention. They are not dumb oxen chewing their cuds at the door of the slaughter-house, but gallant men enduring their suffering with grace in a cold, empty universe. Occasionally they have one companion who recognizes and values their admirable stoicism, but this only emphasizes the rarity of such recognition in this world. And, anyway, it is made clear that the hero is beyond such help.

      By selecting a common man like Santiago for his hero, Hemingway gives his story a classical universality. More than that, when he shows us the bravery and resolution this ordinary man can summon up in the face of defeat; we are struck with pity and awe. Here is Aristotle’s dictum turned upside down: we are moved not by the fall of a great man but the elevation to heroism of what we had taken to be a little man. And the tourists, by their unawareness in the final scene, flat, unemphatic and understated as it underscores as nothing else could the solitary, dignified, self-sufficient valor of the old fisherman. Their unawareness of Santiago’s helps to elevate it far above the sort of pathos that outsiders often are aware of perhaps because they can mitigate it with their commiseration. Thus the final scene of Old Man and The Sea demonstrates how skilfully Hemingway combines self-imposed limitations to stir out emotions and bring into’ focus the central meaning of his novel.

29. Robert P. Weeks: interdependence of Hemingway’s Life and Works

      Some literature can be satisfactorily read and discussed without taking the author into account. Other literature seems inseparable from the person who created it. To an extraordinary degree Hemingway and what he has written exist in a synergetic relationship, reinforcing and fulfilling each other; he has created a personal legend which serves as an ambiance in which we read him.

      Hemingway’s place is secure for his personal legend has seized our imagination as firmly as his novels and stories. Nick Adams, Jake Barnes, Frederic Henry, Francis Macomber, Harry the writer protagonist of The Snows of Kilimanjaro, Colonel Cantwell, and even old Santiago are fleshed out and corroborated by the figure of Ernest Hemingway - Hemingway the soldier; seated in a wheelchair, in a Milan hospital with his wounded legs propped up; the expatriate, running before the bulls at Pamplona: the hunter grinning beside the carcass of a huge kudu bull in the Tanganyika bush; the war correspondent, chatting with Liya Ehrenburg in the bomb-shattered Hotel Florida in Madrid, or riding in a jeep through the Huertgen Forest dressed in a field coat and steel helmet; or a fisherman sitting in the stern of the Pilar buckled in deep-sea fishing harness. Ernest Hemingway is, indeed, a ‘unique cultural example,’ who inhabited our world, yet energized and gave substance to the fictive world of the Hemingway hero.

      But if his personal legend has seized our imagination, it has also repelled or attracted it-for reasons that are seldom clear and never simple. Hemingway's criticism is full of attempts to neutralize, measure, or somehow cope with the author’s galvanic personality, and none of the efforts are wholly satisfactory. Some Of the early criticism made no attempt to separate the Writer from his writing it was not fiction but autobiography. Edmund Wilson went almost to the other extreme. He described the “public” Hemingway of the mid-thirties, whose name appeared in the gossip columns, and whose writing appeared in Esquire, as ‘certainly the worst-invented character to be found in the author’s work. If he is obnoxious, the effect is somewhat mitigated by the fact that he is intrinsically incredible’.

30. Philip Young: Santiago is Moulded on Hemingway Himself

      The thing that chiefly keeps The Old Man and The Sea from greatness is the sense one has that the author was imitating instead of creating the style that made him famous. But this reservation is almost made up for by the book’s abundance of meaning. As always the code hero, here Santiago, comes with a message, and it is essentially that while a man may grow old, and be wholly down on his luck, he can still dare, stick to the rules persist when he is licked, and thus by the manner of his losing win his victory. On another level the story can be read as an allegory entirely personal to its author, as an account of his own struggle, his determination, and his literary vicissitudes. Like Hemingway, Santiago is a master who sets out his lines with more care and precision than his competitors, but he has not had any luck in a long time. Once he was very strong, the champion, yet his whole reputation is imperiled now, and he is growing old. Still he feels that he had strength enough; he knows the tricks of his trade; he is resolute, and he is still out for the really big success. It means nothing that he has proved his strength before he has got to prove it again and he does. After he has caught his prize the sharks come and take it all away from him, as they will always try to do. But he caught it, he fought it well, he did all he could and it was a lot, and at the end he is happy.

31. Philip Young: The Old Man and The Sea Becomes the Climax of a Creative Career

      Although the view of life in this novel had a long evolution from the days of total despair, it represents nonetheless an extraordinary change in its author. A reverence for life’s struggle, and for mankind, seems to have descended on Hemingway like the gift of grace on the religions. The knowledge that a simple man is capable of the decency, dignity, and even heroism that Santiago possesses, and that his battle can be seen in heroic terms, is itself, technical considerations for the moment aside, perhaps the greatest victory that Hemingway won. Very likely this is the sort of thing he had in mind when he remarked to someone, shortly after finishing the book, that he had got, finally, what he had been working for all of his life.

32. Philip Young: The Old Man and The Sen is a Metaphor for Life

      To take the broadest view, however, the novel is a representation of life as a struggle against unconquerable natural forces in which a kind of victory is possible. It is an epic metaphor for life, a contest in which even the problem of right and wrong seems paltry before the great thing that is the struggle. It is also some-thing like Greek tragedy, in that as the hero falls and fails, the audience may get a memorable glimpse of what stature a man may have. And it is Christian tragedy as well, especially in the several marked allusions to Christian symbolism, particularly of the crucifixion - a development in Hemingway’s novels that begins, apparently without much importance, in the early ones, gathers strength in Across the River and Into the Trees, arid comes to a kind of climax in this book.

33. Philip Young: Hemingway’s Influence on His Contemporaries

      More striking, however, is the extent to which, once Hemingway got started, other writers began to make it all theirs. There is probably no country in which American books are read whose literature had been entirely unaffected by Hemingway's work; in his own country, we are so conditioned to his influence that we hardly ever notice it anymore. On the positive side he taught the values of objectivity and honesty, helped to purify our writing of sentimentality, literary embellishment, padding, and a superficial artfulness. Almost singlehanded he revitalized the writing of dialogue. His influence has extended even, more, pervasively, however, to the realism of the subliterary, and here the results, through no direct fault of his, have been much less appealing. Many writers, of the “tough-detective school” in particular, demonstrate what happens when the attitudes and mannerisms which have meaning in one novelist are taken over by others, for whom they have rather different meanings, or one. Violence is the meaningful core of Hemingway, but the host of novelists and short-story and script writers who have come to trade on his have seized a bag of tricks-usually a mixture of toughness and sex, with protagonists based on crude misunderstandings of one or the other-or both-of the heroes In their hands the meanings either are cheap and sordid or have departed altogether.

34. Philip Young: The Hemingway Hero

      By now it is perfectly clear what kind of boy, then man, this Adams is. He is certainly not the simple primitive he is often mistaken for. He is honest, virile, but-clearest of all-very sensitive. He is an outdoor male, and he has a lot of nerve, but he is also very nervous. It is important to understand this Nick, for soon, under other names in other books, he is going to be known half the world over as the “Hemihgway Hero”; every single one of these men has had, or has had the exact equivalent of, Nick’s childhood, adolescence, and young manhood. This man will die a thousand times before his death, and although he would learn how to live with some of his troubles, and how to overcome others, he would never completely recover from his wounds as long as Hemingway lived and recorded his adventures.

35. Philip Young: Hemingway Creates a Modem Myth

      Myths are stories which have something about them that we clumsily call ‘magic’. They have a special quality, an aura of portent. They deal, normally, with some critical phase of life, some crises. The figures who undergo the adventures of the tale take on a symbolic air because we begin to recognize some aspect of our own. In an imaginative way we participate in myths, and the more we are able to do this, the more meaning they have of us. Of course, we know that myths, are, false as matters of fact. But they can be so profound as matters of metaphor that they make the fact seem superficial and even accidental. (The Story of Nick Adams is such a myth.)

      This myth says something about us that is rather wistful. But it is as eloquent as any voice we can speak with of an innocent desire for a decent life on one hand, and a sense of terrible betrayal on the other. We would do justly and be kind, it says. We wished no evil. But as we grew up it was everywhere, and all our expectations were sold out. This is as deep, and as great and beautiful as any myth we have. It tries to explain us to ourselves and to a world that does not comprehend and understandably does not, since it sees not our morning wishes but the mess that has been made of them by afternoon. It also tries to explain why it is that despite our other, opposing myths—of success, progress, the certain beneficence of technical advance and the like—we are neither happy nor whole, nor for the most part, kind and completely decent ourselves. It says that overwhelming poignance: We would have been, we could have been, but have been crippled before we were grown by the world, we were given to grow in and now it is too late.

36. Philip Young: Hemingway’s Separate Peace Ends

      But the novel itself is of minor significance. What it represents in Hemingway is important. Here is the end of the long exile that began with Nick Adams’ separate peace, the end of Hemingway’s ideological separation from the world; a man has no chance alone. As a matter of fact, by 1937, the year of this novel To Have and Have Not Hemingway had come close to embracing the society he had deserted some twenty years before, and was back in another ‘war for democracy.’

37. Philip Young: Interdependence of Style and Content in Hemingway

      Nothing in this brief account of the ‘Hemingway style’ should seem very surprising, but the purposes, implications, and ultimate meanings of this manner of writing are less well recognized, A style has its own content, and the manner of a distinctive prose style has its own meanings. The things that Hemingway’s style most conveys are the very things he says outright. His style is as communicative of the content as the content. The strictly disciplined controls exerted over the hero and his nervous system are precise parallels to the strictly disciplined sentences. The ’mindlessness’ of the style is a reflection and expression of the need to stop thinking when thought means remembering the things that upset. The intense simplicity of the prose is a means of saying that things must be made simple, or the hero is lost, and in ‘a way you’ll never be.’ The economy and narrow focus of the prose controls the little that can be absolutely mastered. The prose is tense because the atmosphere in which - the struggle for control takes place is tense, and the tension in the style expresses that fact.

38. Leslie Fiedler: Hemingway Repeats Himself

      The Old Man and The Sea returns to a level of technical accomplishment almost equal to the earlier work by stripping away all social implications and any attempt to deal with mature emotions. Hemingway is always less embarrassing when he is not attempting to deal with Women; and he returns with relief (with what we as readers at least feel as relief) to that “safe” American Romance of the boy and the old man. The single flaw in The Old Man and The Sea is the constant sense that Hemingway is no longer creating, but merely imitating the marvelous spare style that was once a revelation; that what was once an anti-rhetoric has become now merely another rhetoric, perhaps our most familiar one, and that even its inventor cannot revive it for us.

39. Leslie Fiedler: The Myth of the Dark Lady and The Fair Lady in Hemingway

      Had Catherine lived, she could only have turned into a bitch; for this is the fate in Hemingway’s imagination of all Anglo-Saxon women. In him, the cliche of Dark Lady and Fair survives, but stood on its head, exactly reversed. The Dark Lady, who is neither wife nor mother, blends with the image of Fayaway, the exotic servantconsort reconstructed by Melville in Typee out of memories of an eight-year-old Polynesian girl-child. In Hemingway, such women are mindless, soft, subservient; painless devices for extracting seed without human engagement. The Fair Lady, on the other hand, who gets pregnant and wants a wedding, or uses her sexual allure to assert her power, is seen as a threat and a destroyer of men. But the seed-extractors are Indians or Latins, black eyed and dusky in hue, while the castrators are at least Anglo-Saxon if not symbolically blonde. Neither are permitted to be virgins; indeed, both are imagined as having been often possessed, though in the case of the Fair Woman promiscuity is used as a device for humiliating and unmanning the male foolish enough to have entered into a marriage with her. Through the Dark anti-virgin, on the other hand, a new lover enters into a, blameless communion with the other uncommitted males who have possessed her and departed, as well as with those yet to come. It is a kind of homosexuality once-removed, the appeals of the whorehouse (Eden of the world of men without women) embodied in a single figure.

      When Hemingway’s bitches are Americans, they are hopeless and unmitigated bitches; symbols of Home and Mother as remembered by the boy who could never forgive Mama for having wantonly destroyed Papa’s Indian collection! Mrs. Macomber, who, in The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber, kills her husband for having alienated the affections of the guide with whom she is having one of her spiteful little affairs, is a prime example of the type. And “the woman,” in The Snows of Kilimanjaro another, who with her wealth has weaned her husband from all that sustained his virility, betrayed him to aimlessness and humiliation, Like Fitzgerald’s betrayed men, he can choose only to die, swoon to the death he desires at the climax of a dream of escape. But even his escape is a defeat, for in his fantasy, the plane in which he has fled lands finally at the top of Mount Kilimanjaro “wide as all the world, great, high, and unbelievably white.” It is the whiteness from which the American author tries so vainly to flee, the blank, whiteness of the irrational taboo in Melville, the antarctic whiteness of Polar disaster in Poe, whiteness of the White Goddess herself-who having been denied, as giver of life and source of love, must be recognized as dealer of death.

      The British bitch is for Hemingway only a demi - bitch, nowever, as the English are only, as it wete, demi-Americans. Catherine is delivered from her doom by death. Brett Ashley in The Sun Also Rises (1926) is permitted, once at least, the gesture of herself rejecting her mythical role. But it is quite a feat at that, and Brett cannot leave off congratulating herself: ‘You know it makes one feel rather good deciding not to be a bitch.’ Yet Brett never becomes a woman really; she is mythicized rather than redeemed. And if she is the most satisfactory female character in all of Hemingway, this is because for once she is presented not as an animal or as a nightmare but quite audaciously as a goddess, the bitch-goddess with boyish bob (Hemingway is rather fond of women who seem as much boy as girl), the Lilith of the Twenties. No man embraces her without being in some sense castrated, except, for Jake Barnes who is unmanned to begin with; no man approaches her without wanting to be castrated; except for Romero, who thinks naively that she is or can easily become a woman. Indeed, when Brett leaves that nineteen-year-old bull-fighter, one suspects that, though she avows it is because she will not be ‘one of these bitches that ruin children,’ she is really running away because she thinks he might make her a woman. Certainly, Romero’s insistence that she let her hair grow out has something to do with it: ‘He wanted me to grow my hair out. Me, with long hair, I’d look so like hell. He said it would make me more womanly. I’d look a fright.’

      To yield up her cropped head would be to yield up her emancipation from female servitude, to become feminine rather than phallic; and this Brett cannot do. She cannot become a woman, that is to say, no matter how hard she tries, for Hemingway has imagined her and for once he has imagined a character who convincingly wills the role has imposed upon her. She thinks of herself as a flapper though the word perhaps would not have occurred to her as a member of the “Lost Generation”; but the Spaniards know her immediately as a terrible goddess, the avatar of an ancient archetype. She tries in vain to enter into the circle of Christian communion, but is always turned aside at the door; she changes her mind, she has forgotten her hat-the apparent reason never matters she belongs to a world alien and prior to that of the Christian churches in which Jake finds a kind of peace. In Pamplona, Brett is surrounded by a group of Riau--Riau dancers, who desert a religious procession to follow her, set her up as a rival to Saint Fermin: ‘Some dancers formed a circle around Brett and started to dance. They wore big wreaths of white garlic around their necks. They were all chanting. Brett wanted to dance but they did not want her to. They wanted her as an image to dance around.’ Incapable of love except as a moment in bed, Brett can bestow on her worshippers nothing more than the brief joy of a drunken ecstasy—followed by suffering and deprivation and regret. In the end, not only are her priest and is protected by his terrible wound, is humiliated. For her service is a betrayal not only of his Catholic faith but of his pure passion for bullfighting and trout-fishing; and the priest of the bitch—goddess is, on the purely human level, a pimp!

40. Leslie Fiedler: Reflections of the Temper of the Age in Hemingway’s Works - A Negative Viewpoint

      The youngsters of today are disgusted not only by the outdated and ridiculous role which Hemingway, more and more frantically, played in his own life, but also by his failure to project an adult life, an adult commitment, an adult courage, from which they might revolt with dignity. His breathless pursuit of wars, swordfish, and lions leaves cold a generation born older than- he will ever get.

41. Malcolm Cowley: The Significance of the Ritual in Hemingway

      It is this instinct for legends, for sacraments, for rituals, for symbols appealing to buried hopes and fears, that helps to explain the power of Hemingway’s work and his vast superiority over his imitators. The imitators have learned all his mannerisms as a writer and in some cases they can tell a story even better than Hemingway himself; but they tell only the story; they communicate with the reader on only one level of experience. Hemingway does more than that. Most of us are also primitive in a sense for all the machinery that surrounds our lives. We have our private rituals, our little superstitions, our symbols and fears and nightmares; and Hemingway reminds us unconsciously of the hidden worlds in which we live.

42. Malcolm Cowley: Hemingway as a Conscious Artist

      It was a frightfully hot day. We’d jammed an absolutely perfect barricade across the bridge. It was simply priceless. A big old wrought-iron grating from the front of a house. Too heavy to lift and you could shoot through it and they would have to climb over it. It was absolutely topping. They rushed it, an officers came out alone and worked on it. It was an absolutely perfect obstacle. Their officers were very fine. We were frightfully put out when we heard the flank had gone and we had to fall back.

      Here the sense of nightmare becomes more definite. The reader begins to feel that ‘absolutely perfect obstacle’ is a symbol for other obstacles recurring in Hemingway’s novels: for the wound that divides Jake and Brett (in The Sun Also Rises); for the death in child-birth that separates Frederic from Catherine (in A Farewell to Arms); and even for the bridge that must be destroyed (in For Whom the Bell Tolls) at the cost, of the hero’s life. Moreover, the picture of a wall re-appears in the two interchapters that follow ( in In our Time.) Chapter V begins: ‘They shot the six cabinet ministers at half-past six in the morning against the wall of a hospital.’ Chapter VI begins: ‘Nick sat against the, wall of the church where they had dragged him to be clear of machine-gun fire in the street.’ In Hemingway’s unconscious mind, all these walls may have been the images of death, though I doubt that he regarded them consciously as symbols. He was trying in those early days to state everything behavioristically, and it was not until later that he began to make a deliberate use of symbolism, together with other literary devices that he had avoided in the beginning, when he was teaching himself to write, ‘commencing with the simplest things.’

      Later, in A Farewell to Arms, the rain becomes a conscious symbol of disaster. ‘Things went very badly,’ the hero tells us in the first chapter. At the start of the winter came the permanent rain and with the rain came the cholera.’ Catherine Barkley is afraid of the rain because, she says, ‘sometimes I see me dead in it.’ Rain falls all during the retreat from Caporetto; it falls while Catherine is trying to have her baby in a Swiss hospital; and it is still falling when she dies and when Frederic pushes the nurses out of the room to be alone with her. ‘It wasn’t any good,’ he says. It was like saying goodbye to a statue. After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain.’ On the other hand, it is snow that is used as a symbol of death in The Snows of Kilimanjaro (among with other death symbols, like vultures, hyenas, and soaring in an imaginary airplane). And possibly snow has the same value in For Whom the Bell Tolls, where a spring snowfall adds to the danger of Robert Jordan’s mission and indirectly causes his death.

43. Malcolm Cowley: The Element of Reportage in Hemingway's

      Hemingway studied writing in Paris as if were studying geometry without a text book and inventing theorems as he went along. He accepted a postulate that the function of any literary work is to evoke some particular emotion from the reader; but how could that best be done? Most writers were content to describe an emotion as it was felt by themselves or their heroes, in hopes that the reader would be moved by it, but this was a method that made him the mere auditor of someone else’s fear or longing or rage.

      Hemingway wanted to make his readers feel the emotion directly not as if they were being told about an event, but as if they were taking part in it. The best way to produce this effect, he decided as a first theorem, was to set down exactly, in their, proper sequence, the sights, the sounds, touches, tastes arid smells that had produced an emotion he remembered feeling. Then, without authorial comments and without ever saying that he or his hero had been frightened, sad or angry he could make the reader feel the emotion for himself.

44. Malcolm Cowley: Reflections of the Temper of the Age in Hemingway’s Works

      He doesn’t lead us into castles ready to collapse with age, or into very old New England houses, or embark with us on the search for a whole that is also the white spirit of evil; instead he tells the stories he has lived or heard, against the background of countries he has seen. But, you reflect on reading his books again, these are curious stories that he has chosen from his wider experience, and these countries are presented in a strangely mortuary light. In no other writer of our time can you find such a profusion of corpses dead women in the rain; dead soldiers bloated in their uniforms and surrounded by torn papers; sunken liners full of bodies that float past the closed portholes. In no other writer can you find so many suffering animals: mules with their forelegs broken drowning in shallow water off the quay at Smyrna; gored horses in the bull ring; wounded hyenas first snapping at their own entrails and then eating them with relish. And morally wounded people who also devour themselves; punch-drunk boxers, soldiers with battle fatigue, veterans crazy with “the old rale,” lesbians, nymphomaniacs, bullfighters who have lost their nerve, men who lie awake all night while their brains get to facing “like a flywheel with the weight gone”- here are visions as terrifying as those of “The Pit and the Pendulum,” even though most of them are copied from life; here are nightmares at noonday, accurately described, pictured without blur, but having the nature of obsessions or hypnagogic visions between sleep and waking.

45. Orville Prescott: The Spectre of Death in Hemingway's Works

      His world is uniquely his own, a small segment of the twentieth-century world. It is a world of unparalleled violence born of the horrors of the First World War and the intellectual and spiritual disillusionment which followed it. Most of its inhabitants lead a life of sensation only, usually mistaking sexual desire for love, devoting themselves to excitement rather than positive achievement. Uninterested in ideas or ideals, they value courage above all other virtues and admire physical skills more than any other accomplishment, particularly when skill and courage can be combined in one activity such as in bullfighting or lion hunting. The joy of food, drink, sport and fornication are their preoccupation because they are haunted by the specter of death. Mr. Hemingway called his book on bullfighting Death in the Afternoon; but death is imminent for twenty-four hours a day in all his work. It is the unstated theme of his greatest short stories, The Killers, The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber (complicated by cowardice) and The snows of Kilimanjaro. To face death with courage is the supreme human virtue in the universe of Hemingway. Those who have not faced it, preferably in battle, are demonstrably inferior beings.

46. Orville Prescott: Hemingway's Fictional Technique

      In the last analysis Hemingway will be remembered for “his fictional technique, his dialogue consisting of short, concrete statements, his concentration on the physical world of violent action, his passionate search for the exact word which will express an exact and limited truth, his experiments with prose rhythms which have transformed the staccato rattle of his early writing into the liquid, cadenced ripple of some of his later work. The truth is that Ernest Hemingway is a stylist and fine one. He is also a poet. His sensitivity to the light, color, form and atmosphere of particular places, is lyrical; his ability to suggest an emotional atmosphere (usually of an elementary sort) is remarkable. Mr. Hemingway is unquestionably a master literary craftsman. What his mind can conceive his typewriter will transfer to paper with superb skill.’’

47. Orville Prescott: Hemingway’s Characterization

      There are few characters in his fiction who stick in the memory as particular human beings, or even as significant-types. We remember the cynical picture of war in A Farewell to Anns and the oddly sentimentalized war-time love affair. But the hero, Lieutenant Henry, is only a gray shadow and the heroine is only an old passion clothed in a nurse’s uniform.

      The hero of For Whom the Bell Tolls is equally inert, and the unfortunate heroine is better remembered for her cropped hair and her participation in the famous and ludicrous sleeping-bag episode than as a special person. What was her name now? It is the guerrilla chieftain’s wife, the superwoman Pilar, who alone survives in memory and who will continue to do so as long as the bitter courage and heroic defiance of the Spanish people in the civil war are not forgotten. Pilar is Mr. Hemingwdy’s only triumphant feat of characterization!

48. Joseph Waldmeir: The Religion of Man in The Old Man and The Sea

      I said that Hemingway is no more Christian now than he was thirty years ago; it has been my intention to show that he was no less religious thirty years ago than he is now. The evidence which I have presented adds up to something more than philosophy or an ethic, the two terms which have most often been used to describe Hemingway’s world view; it adds up to what I would call a Religion of Man. The Old Man and The Sea merely-celebrates it more forcefully and convincingly than and previous Hemingway work. It is the final step in the celebration. It is the book which, on the one hand, elevates the philosophy to a religion by the use of allegory, and on the other, by being an allegory of the total body of his work, enables us to see that work finally from the point of view of religion.

49. Joseph Waldmeir: Hemingway’s Technique

      The rules are built upon the great abstraction mentioned above. They are so bound up with the procedure for their application that the procedure itself might be considered to be a rule--or better, that neither rules nor procedure exist without one another. Hemingway’s philosophy of Manhood is a philosophy of action; a man is honest when he acts honestly, he is humble when he acts humbly, he loves when he is loving or being loved. Thus, taking an awareness of the rules as he has taken an awareness of abstractions for granted, Hemingway concerns himself primarily with the presentation of procedure. The procedure is carefully outlined; it is meticulously detailed. If no part of it is overlooked or sloughed off, it must result in a satisfying experience almost in and of itself.

      This procedure, this ritual - for such is what the procedure actually amounts to-is most clearly evident in Hemingway’s treatment of the bull-fight. Death in the Afternoon is devoted to an evaluation of the manhood of various bull-fighters on the basis of their ability to abide by the rules, and to a description of the ritual by means of which they prove possession and communicate the satisfaction to be gained from a proper performance of function to the spectator. War, the prize-ring, fishing, hunting, and making love are some of the other celebrations by means of which Hemingway’s religion philosophy of man is conveyed. But the bull-fight is the greatest because, besides possessing, as the others do also, a procedure inviolate, intimately related to the great abstractions, it always ends in death. It assumes the stature of a religious sacrifice by means of which a man can place himself in harmony with the universe, can satisfy the spiritual as well as the physical side of his nature, can purify and elevate himself in much the same way that he can in any sacrificial religion. The difference between Hemingway’s religion of man and formal religion is simply-yet profoundly that in the former the elevation does not extend beyond the limits of this world, and in the latter, Christianity for example, the ultimate elevation is totally otherworldly.

      It is not only in his treatment of the bull-fight that this second aspect of Hemingway’s total work is evident, though there it may be most immediately apparent. The abstractions, the rules, the ritual, the sacrifice dominate the details of The Old Man and The Sea as they dominate those of The Undefeated and The Sun-Also Rises. We are told carefully, painstakingly, how the Old Man performs his function as fisherman; how he prepares for the hoped for struggle:

Before it was really light he had his baits out and was drifting with the current. One bait was down forty fathoms. The second was at seventy-five and the third and fourth were down in the blue water at one hundred and one hundred and twenty-five fathoms. Watch bait hung head down with the shank of the hook inside the hait fish, tied and sewed solid and all the projecting part of the hook, the curve and the point, was covered with fresh sardines. Each sardine was hooked through both eyes so that they made a half-garland on the projecting steel. Each line as thick around as a big pencil was looped onto a greensapped stick so that any pull or touch on the bait would make the stick dip and each line had two forty-fathom coils which could be made fast to the other spare coils so that, if it were necessary, a fish could take out over three hundred fathoms of line.

      We are told how he hooks the fish and secures the line, waiting suspensefully for the fish to turn and swallow the bait, then waiting again until it has eaten it well, then striking, “with all the strength of his arms and the pivoted weight of his body ” three times, setting the hook; then placing the line across his back and shoulders so that there will be something to give when the fish lunges, and the line will not break. We are told specifically, in terms reminiscent of such descriptions of the bull-fight, how the kill is made:

The old man dropped the life and put his foot on it arid lifted the harpoon as high as he could and dove it down; with all his strength, and more strength he had just summoned, into the fish’s side just behind the great chest fin that rose high in the air to the altitude of the man’s chest. He felt the iron go in and he leaned on it and drove it further and then pushed all his weight after it.

      The immanence of death for the sacrificer as well as for the sacrificed, and his total disregard of its possibility, are made clear at the climax of the struggle when the Old Man thinks: You are killing me, fish. Come on and kill me. I do not care who kills who.

50. Joseph Waldmeir: The Essential Loneliness of The Hero

      A man must depend upon himself alone in order to assert his manhood, and the assertion of his manhood, in the face of insuperable obstacles, is the complete end and justification of his existence for a Hemingway hero. The Old Man must endure his useless struggle with the sharks; Manuel, in The Undefeated must, in spite of his broken wrist and a terriblle goring, go in on the buil six times and accept the horn at last; Jake must continue to live as “well” and “truly” and “honestly” as he is able in spite of his overwhelming frustration. And each must face his struggle alone, with no recourse to other worldly help, for only as solitary individuals can they assert their manhood. And significantly they must go it alone without regard to other worldly blame. As far as sin is concerned, Jake would probably say along with the Old Man, ‘Do not think about sin. It is much too late for that and there are people who are paid to do it. Let them think about it.’ And Manuel would probably nod agreement. However, in spite of such obvious rejections of other worldly Christianity in his affirmation of Manhood, Hemingway has formulated as rigid a set of rules for living and for the attainment of manhood as can be found in any religion.

51. Nemi D’Agostino: Superficial Symbolism in The Old Man and The Sea

      Certainly the exotic and primitive setting of the tropics in The Old Man and The Sea is better suited to Hemingway’s aged hero than is the new Europe. The main theme of the story is absolute failure in life and the irrational sublimation of the defeat. The saintly Santiago goes back in the end to his dreams, his head almost encircled with the halo of holiness. The old man is certainly not the brother of the great realistic heroes of Tolstoy of Verga, nor is he, on the other hand, a fully convincing character in the tradition of symbolism. The story leaves the realistic level as soon as Hemingway tries to make it something more than an immediate objective reality, the moment. the strange old man begins to accompany the action with a lyrical commentary, using a refined oratorical language, emphasizing its symbolical substratum, its nature as a projection of the poet’s consciousness. As soon, that is, as the chase itself stands revealed as an exploit spring from un elan dining, un amour de I, impossible. The fable contains a subtle analogy, which unfortunately is more imposed from without than an intrinsic part of it. Whatever the old man is intended to symbolize (and he seems to be a biblical and Melvillean version of the usual Hemingway hero) he simply does not come poetically true; the symbolism remains a fictitious disguise, and the religious or mystical implications are forced in so far as they want to be more than the religion and morality of aestheticism.

52. Nemi D’ Agostino: Hemingway Repeats Himself

      Actually the rhythm and idiom of the tale are a clue to its essential emotion. The rhythm is the cadence of the lyrical paragraph which proceeds with a sumptuous and solemn fall. The language is rich in suggestive and exotic words, in rich and sensuous imagery, in highly literary expressions, in bright and exquisite touches, and is consciously regulated by a love of verbal magic. It is, in short, the rhythm and language of a decadent poeme en prose, which however suggestive and intense, must always remain an artificial and minor form, incapable of full historical and moral significance. Within these limits The Old Man and The Sea is certainly a refined work, with its admirable linear development and its brilliant “imagistic” style. A late work by a tired writer who believes more than ever in the religion of beauty, its subtly mannered idiom, its elegant and frozen rhythms, are separated by the space of a whole lifetime from the lucid movement, the fresh and crystalline clarity, the poignancy and the shock power of the language of the young Hemingway.

53. Nemi D’ Agostino: The Philosophical Bias in Hemingway's Works

      In spite of all his brave restlessness, Hemingway’s basic attitude to reality remained unchanged from In Our Time to The Old Man and The Sea. Life is a solitary struggle, desperate fever of action, conscious of having no sense or reason beyond itself. Nothing in it: that can be justified, bettered or saved, no problem that can really be set and solved. In this fundamentally non-religious world man can rage and die and the writer, the defender of humanity, looks sadly and impotently on over the fence. For he too must cling to his own rigid code, in cultivating his small golden garden. Art, as Goethe said in another context and in another time, is the attempt of the individual to save himself from the destructive power of the All.

      Hemingway is not, of course, an easy writer. In his personality are concealed romantic, puritanical, irrationalistic elements. He felt the crisis of romantic individualism in all its complexity, and his characters are also engaged in living out the deep and tormenting problem of liberty of which Mann speaks in Meine Zeit. It is true that only the characters in his youthful works are fully symbolic of their own time, while his later heroes are figures in a myth which grows more rigid, artificial and poetically ineffective.

      It is also true, although Hemingway’s effort toward the ideal of the great European novel yielded noble results, so that even his failures are not devoid of dignity and interest, his true genius tended to express itself in an elementary narrative form, in the limpidity of a lyrical and subjective “imagism,” which apparenly simplifies the context of life, but in effect contrives to include, in the sort of essential emotion it presents, a wide range of connotations. He is at his best in A Farewell to Arms, in The Sun Also Rises and in his early short stories. These works, springing from the climate of war and in its aftermath, will certainly continue to hold a very important place in American literature. The vast influence they had until the Forties on the young novelists both of America and Europe has many negative and ephemeral aspects, but has also been seriously constructive: in helping for instance young European writers to break away from narrow literary zones, to seek rejuvenation in greater closeness to present life, to revitalize their language, and also to turn back to certain forgotten lessons of the past.

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