restricted access 14. Memory in The Garden of Eden
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

204 barbara lounsberry 14 Memory in The Garden of Eden Barbara Lounsberry • He wrote on a while longer now and there was no sign that any of it would ever cease returning to him intact. —Ernest Hemingway, The Garden of Eden An unfinished, posthumously published 1986 novel now looms as a benchmark in Hemingway studies. This is only part of the lure of The Garden of Eden. In 1996, citing the novel as a “benchmark,” Hemingway Review editor Susan F. Beegel reported that the publication has prompted “a radical reassessment of Hemingway’s canonical output” (“Conclusion” 290). The published text, she notes, is read and criticized almost as often as The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms (290). The published Garden represents but a third of Hemingway’s unfinished 2,409-page manuscript (Burwell 99); nevertheless, both book and manuscript extend at least two facets of his art. They explore the boundaries of sex, race, and gender more daringly than any other Hemingway work. At the same time they treat a writer’s creative life in richer nuance than before. Indeed, Hemingway interweaves these threads. The unfinished state of Hemingway’s Garden makes it, ironically, something ofapostmodernwork.Theincompletionleavesspaceforaplethoraofreadings: Hemingway’sCatherineasafeminist—wittinglyorunwittingly(Strong193)—or Hemingway’s writer-hero as Bluebeard (Roe). Anne Hollander finds one of the 204 Cirino & Ott.indb 204 3/23/10 9:35:01 AM memory in the garden of eden 205 novel’s major themes “the dangers of transexuality and the way it can destroy a man’s Garden of Eden” (qtd. in Elkins 108), while Debra A. Moddelmog sees insteadoneofHemingway’squeerfamilies.SomewhereinbetweenMarkSpilka finds evidence of Hemingway’s lifelong “quarrel with androgyny.” Biographer Michael Reynolds describes the work as Hemingway’s “portrait of the artist in the twentieth century” (257). In truth, The Garden of Eden can be read as a reprise and an elaboration in fiction of the challenges faced (and overcome) in Hemingway’s 1935 nonfiction volumeGreen Hills of Africa. To read The Garden of Eden is to feel Hemingway reprising betrayal and loss in discrete sentences and in story after story. The elephant is renowned for its memory. Furthermore, as J. E. Cirlot reports, the elephant, “in its broadest and universal sense,” is a symbol of strength and of the power of the libido (96). The lost and twice-recovered elephant story in The Garden of Eden enlarges the celebration of memory and art that occurs in Green Hills.ThepublishedversionofHemingway’sGardenparticularlyforegroundsthis link. Like Green Hills of Africa, the published Garden is structured in four sections .LikeGreenHills,TheGarden’slongestsection—sixteenchaptersofthirty— represents a “Pursuit Remembered” interlude during which the writer, David Bourne,recallsAfricanhuntsandturnsthemintoart,into“stories.”Ineachwork, too, a literal victory—Hemingway’s double kudu kill in Green Hills and David’s successful completion of his African stories (including the elephant story)—is followed, and topped, by a victory on the plane of memory (and recall). In Green Hills of Africa two planes of action unfurl: the literal game rivalry on the plains of Africa and the higher plane of memory and art. This dualism recurs in The Garden of Eden in the contrast Hemingway makes between the “narrative” David is writing of his and Catherine’s marriage as it unravels and the clearly greater work, the “stories” he is recalling and crafting from his past.1 Catherine’s action in burning the “stories” so that only the “narrative” remains would be analogous to Karl’s crossing into Papa’s territory in Green Hills and sabotaging his memory. In The Garden of Eden Catherine plays the role Hemingway divides between P.O.M. and Karl in Green Hills, and Marita serves the function of the guide, Pop, in validating David’s views. In Green Hills, P.O.M. (“Poor old Mama,” the Pauline figure) exists with Karl as a prosaic dweller on the literal African plains. Early on in the work the hunters are after a rhinoceros bull with its huge horn when a rhino cow intrudes. “What are we going to do?” P.O.M. asks in one of several allusions to T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land. Hemingway then Cirino & Ott.indb 205 3/23/10 9:35:01 AM 206 barbara lounsberry writes, “She was practical.” Pop answers, “We’ll work around her” (GHOA 104). Hemingway creates a parallel moment in The Garden of Eden, but now the context is art rather than hunt. Like the rhino cow, Catherine intrudes on David’s writing in her plan to have the “narrative” of...


Subject Headings

  • Memory in literature.
  • Hemingway, Ernest, -- 1899-1961 -- Criticism and interpretation.
  • Geography in literature.
  • You have access to this content
  • Free sample
  • Open Access
  • Restricted Access