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REVIEWS Broer, Lawrence R. and Gloria Holland, eds. Hemingwayand Women: Female Critics and die Female Voice. Tuscaloosa: Univ. of Alabama Press, 2002. xiv + 353 pp. Cloth: $39.95. Paper: $24.95. Strychacz, Thomas. Hemingway's Theaters ofMasculinity. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State Univ. Press, 2003. vii + 284 pp. Cloth: $59.95. Paper: $24.95. If by some strange miracle the late, venerable Hemingway scholar Carlos Baker (1909-1987) were resurrected and transported to a presentday Hemingway conference, or able to leaf through a recent batch of Hemingway criticism, how well would he recognize the "new" Ernest Hemingway? Well enough, I suppose—for Baker surely knew a great deal more about the man than he could say in his authorized biography (1969) or imply in his authorized edition of letters (1981)—but any more casual student of Hemingway educated entirely before 1986 might be much harder pressed to recognize in recent scholarship the familiar literary macho man of modern American mythology (even if this mythic Hemingway, however obsolete, lives on in popular culture and in far too many American classrooms). Seldom has a major writer been as thoroughly reconstructed as Hemingway has been since the 1986 posthumous publication of The Garden of Eden. The revolution in Hemingway studies—which has overhauled, most importantly, our understanding of gender and sexuality in Hemingway's work—is now nearly two decades old, and it shows little sign of waning. After biographical , psychological, semiotic, historical, feminist, queer theory, and literary historical reconsiderations of Hemingway and gender, the surprising thing may be that the revolution still has such vitality. The two books under review here, Hemingway and Women and Hemingway's Theaters ofMasculinity, both advance the revolution and demonstrate that it is still inspiring excellent work. These volumes not only help us to see further beyond the Hemingway myth, they more importantly help us to see how attention to gender has led to a much closer reading of Hemingway's texts. In Hemingway's Theaters ofMasculinity, Thomas Strychacz forgoes consideration of Hemingway the man in favor of an engaging and rigorous close reading of those places in Hemingway's texts—and they appear everywhere—where we can see gender being rhetorically or theatricallyperformed. Drawing on the work ofJudith Butler, Strychacz argues that the insistent theatricality of gender performance in Hemingway's texts undermines the sort of essentialist notions of stable, self-identical gender identity that until relatively recently character- 242Reviews ized most Hemingway criticism. Strychacz convincingly demonstrates "that Hemingway's narrative art constantly represents masculinity as temporary and subject to abrupt change rather than stable and permanent; as relational and contingent rather than self-determined; as the function of insubstantial codes and evaluating audiences rather than the sole possession of code heroes; as negotiated and constructed rather than constitutive of an essential identity" (8). Strychacz augments the ideas of Butler with Bertold Brecht's principle of the alienation effect, or Verfremdungseffekt, to suggest that the theatricality of gender performance in Hemingway's work "hollows out" or denaturalizes for audiences traditional essentialist notions of masculinity: "As Brecht and Butler recognize in various ways, the staging of mundane obvious- and natural-seeming social practices within a defamiliarizing context has the effect of unraveling them, showing that their obviousness is a result of repetitive performances rather than some universal essence. Hemingway's staging calls a masculine self into being and calls it into question with the same gesture" (48). Strychacz begins with an astute and liberating reading of a particularly clear instance of this, "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber," demonstrating how the story forces an audience of both characters and readers to judge the manhood of Macomber while simultaneously denying them any grounds beyond performance upon which to found their judgments. "The codes of manhood Hemingway articulates [here] are defined not by taciturn heroes but by taciturn watchers who stand quietly, invisibly off-stage, unconcerned with their participatory or evaluatory role precisely because that role is so fundamentally constitutive ofthe process ofmanhood-fashioning" (52). Strychacz then elaborates these themes in considerations of The Sun Also Rises and In Our Time before turning to the "theater of war" in a strong reading of A Farewell to Arms and a...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2158-5806
Print ISSN
0091-8083
Pages
pp. 241-246
Launched on MUSE
2014-10-01
Open Access
No
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