We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Art Matters

Hemingway, Craft, and the Creation of the Modern Short Story

Robert Paul Lamb

Publication Year: 2010

In Art Matters, Robert Paul Lamb provides the definitive study of Ernest Hemingway’s short story aesthetics. Lamb locates Hemingway’s art in literary historical contexts and explains what he learned from earlier artists, including Edgar Allan Poe, Paul Cézanne, Henry James, Guy de Maupassant, Anton Chekhov, Stephen Crane, Gertrude Stein, James Joyce, and Ezra Pound. Examining how Hemingway developed this inheritance, Lamb insightfully charts the evolution of the unique style and innovative techniques that would forever change the nature of short fiction. Art Matters opens with an analysis of the authorial effacement Hemingway learned from Maupassant and Chekhov, followed by fresh perspectives on the author’s famous use of concision and omission. Redefining literary impressionism and expressionism as alternative modes for depicting modern consciousness, Lamb demonstrates how Hemingway and Willa Cather learned these techniques from Crane and made them the foundation of their respective aesthetics. After examining the development of Hemingway’s art of focalization, he clarifies what Hemingway really learned from Stein and delineates their different uses of repetition. Turning from techniques to formal elements, Art Matters anatomizes Hemingway’s story openings and endings, analyzes how he created an entirely unprecedented role for fictional dialogue, explores his methods of characterization, and categorizes his settings in the fifty-three stories that comprise his most important work in the genre. A major contribution to Hemingway scholarship and to the study of modernist fiction, Art Matters shows exactly how Hemingway’s craft functions and argues persuasively for the importance of studies of articulated technique to any meaningful understanding of fiction and literary history. The book also develops vital new ways of understanding the short story genre as Lamb constructs a critical apparatus for analyzing the short story, introduces to a larger audience ideas taken from practicing storywriters, theorists, and critics, and coins new terms and concepts that enrich our understanding of the field.

Published by: Louisiana State University Press

Cover, Title Page, Copyright

pdf iconDownload PDF (236.1 KB)


pdf iconDownload PDF (31.2 KB)
pp. ix

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (69.1 KB)
pp. xi-xvi

This book is the first comprehensive study of the short story art of the twentieth century’s most influential fiction writer. It is aimed at several audiences: Hemingway scholars and enthusiasts, critics of twentieth-century literature, fiction writers...

Title Abbreviations

pdf iconDownload PDF (46.0 KB)
p. xviii-xviii

read more

Introduction: The Hemingway “Problem” and the Matter of Art

pdf iconDownload PDF (109.1 KB)
pp. 1-13

The ultimate goal of this book is to justify Hemingway’s centrality in the canon by focusing on his aesthetics. This may seem a curious objective, since his place in literary history hardly seems threatened: Hemingway scholarship...

read more

1. Historical Genre, Dispassionate Presentation, and Authorial Judgment: The Legacy of Maupassant and Chekhov

pdf iconDownload PDF (141.1 KB)
pp. 14-33

By the time Ernest Hemingway commenced his career as a professional author, the short story had been developing for nearly a century, emerging from a variety of traditional short narrative forms—fable, myth, parable, tale, yarn, sketch, and anecdote...

read more

2. Minimizing Words and Maximizing Meaning: Suggestiveness, Concision, and Omission

pdf iconDownload PDF (111.2 KB)
pp. 34-47

The short story’s lack of space leads to prose that relies heavily on suggestiveness and implication, allowing the reader a greater role in bringing the narrative to life. Sean O’Faolain observes: “Telling by means of suggestion or implication...

read more

3. Depicting Consciousness in Modern Fiction: Expressionism and Impressionism from Crane to Cather and Hemingway

pdf iconDownload PDF (196.0 KB)
pp. 48-77

All literary historical genres possess an epistemological dimension: How can the self know the world? Related to this question is another: Where does “reality” reside? Generally speaking, American narrative from the mid-nineteenth...

read more

4. Who Sees and Who Speaks: Hemingway’s Art of Focalization

pdf iconDownload PDF (219.3 KB)
pp. 78-112

No fields of literary theory have contributed more to our understanding of the writer’s craft than narratology and reader-response criticism. But these fields have led to a proliferation of new terms that are unnecessary for the practical...

read more

5. Repetition and Juxtaposition: From Stein to Hemingway

pdf iconDownload PDF (164.5 KB)
pp. 113-135

Acknowledging Gertrude Stein’s influence on Hemingway has become obligatory when discussing his use of repetition, but the extent of her influence has been exaggerated and misunderstood. It was Hemingway’s nature to learn quickly from mentors...

read more

6. Openings, Endings, and the Disjunctive Bump

pdf iconDownload PDF (131.7 KB)
pp. 136-153

In the short story, beginnings are read in anticipation of the end, and the end is read with the beginning still fresh in mind. The reader brings a greater alertness to a story than to a novel, in which one settles in for the long haul and...

read more

7. The Normative Center, the Illustrative Stamp, and the Joycean Epiphany

pdf iconDownload PDF (118.1 KB)
pp. 154-168

I wish to begin this chapter by coining two terms: the normative center and the illustrative stamp. The concept of a normative center is employed in political discourse to signify a cultural mainstream, but I wish to appropriate the term for literary...

read more

8. The New Art of Constructive Dialogue: From James to Hemingway

pdf iconDownload PDF (212.9 KB)
pp. 169-203

Hemingway’s most original and influential contribution to the art of fiction was his creation of an entirely new role for dialogue. Between the completion of his sixth story, “Indian Camp,” in February 1924 (the first new story written...

read more

9. Plot, Characterization, and Setting

pdf iconDownload PDF (145.4 KB)
pp. 204-223

Hemingway’s habit of eliding words in his correspondence sometimes leaves his meaning open to multiple interpretations. A case in point is the above excerpt from a letter to Charles Poore, a longtime admirer of Hemingway in the pages of the...

read more

Coda: Hemingway’s Legacy

pdf iconDownload PDF (74.0 KB)
pp. 224-229

In 1904, two years before his death, Paul Cézanne was asked by a friend what he thought about the Masters. He replied: “They are good. I used to go to the Louvre every morning when I was in Paris; but in the end I attached greater...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (64.7 KB)
pp. 231-235

All academic careers begin with teachers, and I was a fortunate student. In the History of American Civilization Program at Harvard University, David Herbert Donald and Warner Berthoff were my mentors, role models, and guardian...

Appendix: Chronological Listing of Hemingway's First 53 Stories by Date of Completion

pdf iconDownload PDF (51.7 KB)
pp. 237-239


pdf iconDownload PDF (71.8 KB)
pp. 241-246

Works Cited

pdf iconDownload PDF (108.4 KB)
pp. 247-259


pdf iconDownload PDF (108.4 KB)
pp. 261-273

E-ISBN-13: 9780807136690
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807140031

Page Count: 296
Publication Year: 2010