Hemingway and Women
Female Critics and the Female Voice
Publication Year: 2002
Female scholars reevaluate gender and the female presence in the life and work of one of America’s foremost writers.
Ernest Hemingway has often been criticized as a misogynist because of his portrayal of women. But some of the most exciting Hemingway scholarship of recent years has come from women scholars who challenge traditional views of Hemingway and women. The essays in this collection range from discussions of Hemingway’s famous heroines Brett Ashley and Catherine Barkley to examinations of the central role of gender in his short stories and in the novel The Garden of Eden. Other essays address the real women in Hemingway’s life—those who cared for him, competed with him, and, ultimately, helped to shape his art. While Hemingway was certainly influenced by traditional perceptions of women, these essays show that he was also aware of the struggle of the emerging new woman of his time. Making this gender struggle a primary concern of his fiction, these critics argue, Hemingway created women with strength, depth, and a complexity that readers are only beginning to appreciate.
"The authors focus on women connected to Hemingway in life, specific female characters, and issues of gender and sexual ambiguities and crossings embodied or enacted by male and female characters. Topics range from reading the feminine in nature to expanding the concept of the code hero to include major female characters."
"Exceptionally thorough . . . this collection is impressive and unflinching in its exploration."
—Ruth Prigozy, Hofstra University
Lawrence Broer is Professor Emeritus of English at the University of South Florida and author of a number of books on American literature, including Sanity Plea: Schizophrenia in the Novels of Kurt Vonnegut and Rabbit Tales: Poetry and Politics in John Upike’s Rabbit Novels. Gloria Holland is Adjunct Instructor in English at Hillsborough Community College and has coauthored papers with Lawrence Broer on Hemingway, Vonnegut, Norman Mailer, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Published by: The University of Alabama Press
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Susan Beegel informs us that of the seventeen women writing about Ernest Hemingway in the decade following his death, only Naomi Grant, a 1968 graduate student, discussed Hemingway’s female characters, daring to challenge the “male-oriented” focus of early male critics (276). ...
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Part 1: Heroines and Heroes, The Female Presence
1. In Love with Papa
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I little imagined two decades ago how much Ernest Hemingway would take over my life. Almost all of the writing and teaching that I do, along with the day-to-day living of my life, inevitably comes back, in some way, to Hemingway. This should not surprise me, since Hemingway had already taken over my reading life ...
2. Re-Reading Women II: The Example of Brett, Hadley, Duff, and Women’s Scholarship
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Because the absence of women in mainstream literary scholarship remains all too familiar and acceptable, many literary professionals are not surprised when they do not see women included in a particular body of scholarship.1 In fact, the absence of women’s scholarship often functions as proof ...
3. The Sun Hasn’t Set Yet: Brett Ashley and the Code Hero Debate
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With the publication of The Garden of Eden, Hemingway criticism has become preoccupied with such thematic concerns as androgyny, trans-sexuality, and sexual fetishism and, in turn, the scholarship is increasingly becoming more sensitive to the issue of gender politics. ...
4. The Romance of Desire in Hemingway’s Fiction
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As we learn more and more about Hemingway, the self-created macho man’s man, we start to understand why he worked so hard to show his sexual prowess. Part of being macho was being sexually adept, being able to satisfy women (who were, in turn, only sex partners rather than people). ...
5. “I’d Rather Not Hear”: Women and Men in Conversation in “Cat in the Rain” and “The Sea Change”
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“Women have served all these centuries as looking-glasses possessing the magic and delicious power of reflecting the figure of man at twice its natural size,” Virginia Woolf writes in A Room of One’s Own. “That serves to explain in part the necessity that women so often are to men” (35). But how do men respond when women begin to resist serving as reflectors? ...
6. To Have and Hold Not: Marie Morgan, Helen Gordon, and Dorothy Hollis
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Ernest Hemingway’s To Have and Have Not (1937) has received comparatively scant critical attention. The novel has been widely regarded as a failure from its time of publication. Those critics who have discussed it typically have seen it as a roman à clef and focused on identifying the historical counterparts for fictional characters,1 ...
7. Revisiting the Code: Female Foundations and “The Undiscovered Country” in For Whom the Bell Tolls
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The blurring of gender distinctions and androgynous emphasis is central to current Hemingway scholarship and has been since The Garden of Eden’s 1986 posthumous publication. This novel’s release shed light on the canon’s previously unfamiliar or unnoticed thematic terrain and created repercussions dramatically altering critical response to the earlier works. ...
8. On Defiling Eden: The Search for Eve in the Garden of Sorrows
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In The Green Breast of the New World: Landscape, Gender, and American Fiction Louise H. Westling examines Hemingway’s story “Big Two- Hearted River” in the context of both feminist and eco-critical theory, an approach that is beginning to open up Hemingway’s works in new and invigorating ways.1 ...
9. Santiago and the Eternal Feminine: Gendering La Mar in The Old Man and the Sea
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“Hemingway is always less embarrassing when he is not attempting to deal with women,” Leslie A. Fiedler writes, with some smugness, of The Old Man and the Sea, “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” (“Adolescence” 108). ...
10. West of Everything: The High Cost of Making Men in Islands in the Stream
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In cowboy jargon “to go west of everything,” means to die—a euphemism that was probably borrowed from Indians, for whom to travel the three-day road was to take the westward journey walked by the dying. Jane Tompkins, in her little jewel of a book West of Everything: The Inner Life of Westerns (1992), examines the exposure of Americans to the Western genre. ...
11. Queer Families in Hemingway’s Fiction
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Over the years, a number of critics have noted the lack of traditional families and stable home life in Hemingway’s fiction.1 As Frank Shelton put it as early as 1974, “Hemingway’s books may seem to lack entirely that most primary group to which every individual belongs, at least initially, the family” (303). ...
12. “Go to sleep, Devil”: The Awakening of Catherine’s Feminism in The Garden of Eden
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Of all the photographs that abound of Hemingway with a slain lion or a fishing rod, in military uniform, at his typewriter, or with the distinctive white beard, we unfortunately have none that show him with hair the color of a new minted penny. Perhaps if a few Look photographers had captured Hemingway on film in 1947 with polished copper pot hair, ...
13. The Light from Hemingway’s Garden: Regendering Papa
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The road to my present identity, a woman scholar writing on Hemingway, began with Brett Ashley. This is not surprising, of course, for Brett, until Catherine Bourne was unearthed, was the most interesting woman character in a Hemingway text. In addition, for me, Brett and the novel in which she figured were tinged with the glamor of the 1920s, ...
Part 2: Mothers, Wives, Sisters
14. Alias Grace: Music and the Feminine Aesthetic in Hemingway’s Early Style
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In 1958 Ernest Hemingway told interviewer George Plimpton that he had learned “as much from painters about how to write as from writers,” adding “I should think what one learns from composers and from the study of harmony and counterpoint would be obvious” (“Art of Fiction” 118).1 ...
15. A Lifetime of Flower Narratives: Letting the Silenced Voice Speak
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Like most writers, Ernest Hemingway used the same material in more than one place.1 As Rose Marie Burwell has argued, “reiterated thematic links” recur frequently in the prose Hemingway wrote in the last years of his life, even though the settings of the five books that those years produced range from France to Spain to the Caribbean to Kenya, ...
16. Rivalry, Romance, and War Reporters: Martha Gellhorn’s Love Goes to Press and the Collier’s Files
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In the spring of 1945 as the war in Europe was coming to an end, Martha Gellhorn and fellow war correspondent Virginia Cowles were in London, “feeling aimless like millions of others.” “Though no one spoke of it, sorrow affected me; now there was time to think of the heart-sickening cost of war,” Gellhorn recalled. “Nothing seemed worth the effort of doing it. ...
17. Hemingway’s Literary Sisters: The Author through the Eyes of Women Writers
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Ernest Hemingway’s complex and ambivalent relationship with Gertrude Stein has been widely discussed. Relatively little has been said, however, about Hemingway’s relationships with other women writers. Among those who played important roles in Hemingway’s life and works were his wives, all of whom except Hadley Richardson were professional writers ...
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Jamie Barlowe is Associate Professor of English and Chair of Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Toledo. She is the author of The Scarlet Mob of Scribblers: Rereading Hester Prynne and regularly publishes scholarly essays on Ernest Hemingway, Nathaniel Hawthorne, American women writers, film, feminist theory and pedagogy, and women’s scholarship. ...
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Page Count: 371
Publication Year: 2002