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Scholars have traditionally located Across the River and into the Trees among Ernest Hemingway’s least successful works. Central to their criticism is the character of Renata and her attachment to the American Colonel Cantwell; some argue that she provides gentle assurance to the male protagonist, while others emphasize her selfish sexual demands. To complicate this prevailing dichotomy, the present essay examines Cantwell and Renata’s language as it alternates between the registers of courtly romance and carnal desire. Modeled in part on Hemingway’s exchange of letters with Adriana Ivancich, chivalrous although infused with his unrequited sexual desire, the romance in Across the River and into the Trees evinces a remarkable amount of discursive complexity that deserves deeper appreciation from readers.