Frank Scafella's Hemingway: Essays of Reassessment focuses upon the life and work of a writer we thought we knew and re-examines our understanding of his aesthetic principles and his work. This anthology gathers sixteen of the best papers delivered at The Hemingway Society's Third International Conference in Schruns, Austria in 1988, and it publishes several manuscript fragments wherein Hemingway discusses his craft. Based upon textual, biographical, and psychological evidence, these essays successfully challenge accepted notions about the author and his work.
Hershel Parker opens the first section of essays, "Fiction and the Manuscripts," by congratulating Hemingway scholars on having avoided the CEAA's early endeavors and encouraging them to combine their manuscript studies with investigations of the creative process. William Balassi details the creation of the deleted opening of The Sun Also Rises; Robert Fleming explores the role of Roger Hancock [Davis] in the holograph of Islands; Susan Beegel explains why "A Lack of Passion" was considered unpublishable and places it in the context of Hemingway's life and work; and Paul Smith argues that "On the Quai at Smyrna" is nearer to "In Another Country" (ca. 1926) than to the stories of the early 1930s; he also discovers that in early drafts of "Now I Lay Me," young Nicky (originally called "Ernie") participates in the burning of his father's snakes.
Hemingway's life is the subject of the second gathering of essays, which begins with Scott Donaldson's description of a "definitive biography," although producing such a tome, he argues, is impossible. H. R. Stoneback challenges the view that Hemingway was a nominal Catholic and exposes the "specifically Catholic tension" that informs the author's books and life; Donald Junkins finds most biographers guilty of psycho-sensationalizing in their attempts to explain the dark side of Hemingway's psyche; Jackson Benson encourages readers to view Hemingway's fiction as "a way of imagining, not a version of his life or an extension of it"; and Michael Reynolds describes the biographer's inability to know the past in absolute terms.
The final six essays explore Hemingway's "psychology," and their cumulative effect is to remind us that Hemingway's life, like his art, rewards careful study. [End Page 739] Earl Rovit concentrates upon "exclusion" or "enforced isolation," borne of guilt or fear or shame, as a theme and technique in the author's fiction and life; Ben Stoltzfus's "Lacanian reading" attempts to discern the unspoken message of The Old Man and the Sea by explaining "what Hemingway consciously put into the text . . . what the reader puts in . . . and Hemingway's unconscious (desire) which escapes his cognition"; Mark Spilka, concentrating upon The Garden of Eden, describes Hemingway's "ultimate failure to resolve his quarrel with androgyny—or better still, to continue it honestly rather than resolve it falsely"; James Phelan defines "voice" and investigates what happens to our understanding of the author-narrator when we listen to the voices of Frederic's narrative discourse; Tony Whitmore describes the emergence of gaiety in Robert Jordan; and Gerry Brenner contends that Hemingway's art "simultaneously reveals his lesser anxiety of misidentification and conceals his greater anxiety of identification." Combining diverse methodologies with important primary material, Scafella's essays of Reassessment are exciting to read.
Jackson J. Benson's New Critical Approaches to the Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway is the "all-new sequel" to his The Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway: Critical Essays (1975). It republishes twenty-eight essays, most of which appeared in the 1980s, and includes...