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The Hemingway Short Story

A Study in Craft for Writers and Readers

Robert Paul Lamb

Publication Year: 2013

In The Hemingway Short Story: A Study in Craft for Writers and Readers, Robert Paul Lamb delivers a dazzling analysis of the craft of this influential writer. Lamb scrutinizes a selection of Hemingway’s exemplary stories to illuminate the author’s methods of construction and to show how craft criticism complements and enhances cultural literary studies. The Hemingway Short Story, the highly anticipated sequel to Lamb’s critically acclaimed Art Matters: Hemingway, Craft, and the Creation of the Modern Short Story, reconciles the creative writer’s focus on art with the concerns of cultural critics, establishing the value that craft criticism holds for all readers. Beautifully written in clear and engaging prose, Lamb’s study presents close readings of representative Hemingway stories such as “Soldier’s Home,” “A Canary for One,” “God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen,” and “Big Two-Hearted River.” Lamb’s examination of “Indian Camp,” for instance, explores not only its biographical contexts—showing how details, incidents, and characters developed in the writer’s mind and notebook as he transmuted life into art—but also its original, deleted opening and the final text of the story, uncovering otherwise unseen aspects of technique and new terrains of meaning. Lamb proves that a writer is not merely a site upon which cultural forces contend, but a professional in his or her craft who makes countless conscious decisions in creating a literary text. Revealing how the short story operates as a distinct literary genre, Lamb provides the meticulous readings that the form demands—showing Hemingway practicing his craft, offering new inclusive interpretations of much debated stories, reevaluating critically neglected stories, analyzing how craft is inextricably entwined with a story’s cultural representations, and demonstrating the many ways in which careful examinations of stories reward us.

Published by: Louisiana State University Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication, Quotes

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pp. iii-vii


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p. ix-ix

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pp. xi-xvii

This book is a sequel to Art Matters: Hemingway, Craft, and the Creation of the Modern Short Story (2010). In Art Matters, my goal was to provide the definitive study of Hemingway’s short story aesthetics, exploring what he learned from previous artists—such as Poe, Cézanne, Maupassant, Henry ...

I. Full Encounters of the Close Kind

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1. Really Reading a Hemingway Story: The Example of “Indian Camp”

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pp. 3-85

From mid-February through April 1924, the start of an extraordinary period of creativity that would last five years, Hemingway completed eight of the stories that would comprise the bulk of In Our Time.1 The first of these stories, “Indian Camp,” marked the introduction of Nick Adams, ...

II. How Craft Readings Contribute to Understanding Stories

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2. Dueling Wounds in “Soldier’s Home”: The Relation of Textual Form, Narrative Argument, and Cultural Critique

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pp. 89-111

In the previous chapter, I performed an exhaustive reading of a Hemingway story in order to support the validity of three claims: that careful attention to articulated technique is necessary for fully understanding a short story’s aesthetic and cultural dimensions; that the author is much ...

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3. The “Pointless” Story: What Is “A Canary for One”?

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pp. 112-150

There is no critical debate about the merits of either “Indian Camp” or “Soldier’s Home.” Both stories have been frequently anthologized and highly praised, and each is rich in interpretive possibilities and open to a wide range of critical methodologies. But “A Canary for One” is a different ...

III. Metacritical and Metafictional Hemingway

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4. Hemingway on (Mis)Reading Stories: “God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen” as Metacriticism

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pp. 153-166

In our first three chapters, we have seen that craft approaches to the short story need not inevitably lead, as many academics now cavalierly assume, to “mere” formalism, or worse, “empty” formalism. I have tried to show that an understanding of form, craft, art, and technique contributes to ...

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5. Hemingway on (Mis)Writing Stories: “Big Two-Hearted River” as Metafiction

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pp. 167-192

In this chapter we move from a story about mutilation and despair to one about healing and hope, from a callow narrator undergoing an initiation into the complexities of human society to an experienced protagonist immersing himself in the non-human world. We also move from a ...

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pp. 193-195

Warner Berthoff, Marc Dolan, and Philip Fisher read the initial version of this manuscript, and their many insightful comments contributed to making it into a much better book. I am deeply grateful to LSU Press’s external reader and Hemingway scholar extraordinaire, Joseph M. Flora, for ...


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pp. 197-213

Works Cited

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pp. 215-223


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pp. 225-233

E-ISBN-13: 9780807147436
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807147429

Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2013