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Agassiz or Darwin: Faith and Science in Hemingway’s High School Zoology Class

From: The Hemingway Review
Volume 32, Number 2, Spring 2013
pp. 7-27 | 10.1353/hem.2013.0010



An unresolved tension between faith and reason prevails in Hemingway’s work, but to fully comprehend this tension, we must first lay to rest the common misperception that his years at Oak Park High School lacked any significant introduction to Darwinian evolutionary theory and were instead dominated by the anti-evolutionary teachings of Louis Agassiz. This essay presents clear evidence to the contrary: Hemingway did indeed receive extensive exposure to Darwinian science in his high school zoology class in 1915–16. The truth lies in the very Darwinian textbook for the class as well as the fascinating laboratory notebook Hemingway kept for the course, which has gone largely unnoticed in the Monroe County Public Library in Key West.

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