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  • War + Ink: New Perspectives on Ernest Hemingway’s Life and Writings ed. by Steve Paul, Gail Sinclair, Steven Trout
  • Justin Mellette
War + Ink: New Perspectives on Ernest Hemingway’s Life and Writings. Edited by Steve Paul , Gail Sinclair , and Steven Trout . Kent, OH : Kent UP . 363 pp. Cloth $65.00 .

In their introduction to this diverse collection of seventeen illuminating essays on Hemingway’s formative experiences—both personal and literary—Steve Paul, Gail Sinclair, and Steven Trout offer the useful reminder that “For Hemingway, war and ink went together from the start” (xi). Indeed while the young Hemingway began his literary apprenticeship in the newsroom—an aspect of his career the editors point out has been largely neglected since Charles Fenton’s work in the mid-1950s—he honed his craft in part due to his experiences on the battlefield.

Although as the editors note there has been no dearth of scholarly inquiry into Hemingway’s early life and writing, War + Ink aims to illuminate new lines of inquiry that will likely bear fruit for current and future generations of Hemingway scholars by reframing and exploring novel avenues of scholarship from a range of methodologies, including historical, biographical, psychoanalytic, and textual. The editors claim the volume “breaks important new ground in four ways”: “first, by reframing Hemingway’s formative experiences in Kansas City; second, by establishing a fresh set of contexts for his Italian adventure in 1918 and his novels and stories of the 1920s; third, by offering some provocative reflections on Hemingway’s fiction and the issue of truth telling in war literature; and fourth, by reexamining Hemingway’s later career in terms of themes, issues, or places tied to the writer’s early life” (x).

The editors usefully divide the collection’s essays into a half dozen categories, arranged in rough chronological order, following Hemingway from his Kansas City apprenticeship to his time in World War I and onward through his blossoming literary career in the 1920s. Special attention is paid to the manifestations of Hemingway’s youthful experiences in his work, as in the trio of essays dedicated to “Soldier’s Home.” The volume concludes by moving into Hemingway’s later writing, exploring his tendency to return to themes and issues that were of foundational importance to his early work.

The opening essays in the volume, Steve Paul’s “Hemingway in Kansas City: The True Dope on Violence and Creative Sources in a Vile and Lively Place” and John Fenstermaker “Ernest Hemingway, 1917–1918: First Work, First War,” offer examinations of Hemingway’s reporting; the former essay provides a case study of possible source material for one of the In Our Time vignettes, while the latter stresses the author’s early fascination with covering [End Page 110] the “illicit and illegal” (15) sides of Kansas City life and his youthful braggadocio as a reporter.

Part two of this collection offers myriad historical contextualizations of Hemingway’s experience in World War I. First, Susan Beegel discusses the worldwide flu epidemic of 1918, particularly its impact on Hemingway’s relationship with Agnes von Kurowsky and its later role in stories such as “In Another Country.” Jennifer Keene makes the provocative argument “that in many respects Ernest Hemingway’s military service in World War I was rather typical” (53) in “Hemingway: A Typical Doughboy,” based on a deeper, broader understanding of how soldiers’ wartime experiences differed significantly from cultural representations of them. The final essay in the section, Ellen Knodt’s “‘Pleasant, Isn’t it?’ The Language of Hemingway and His World War I Contemporaries” extends Keene’s analysis by arguing that Hemingway’s terse, laconic prose can also be found in the letters of fellow soldiers, nurses, and ambulance drivers.

Part three dives more fully into Hemingway’s early fiction, opening with Jennifer Haytock’s “Looking at Horses: Destructive Spectatorship in The Sun Also Rises” which offers a theoretical consideration of the role of spectator-ship—drawn from the work of Martin Harries—and the ways in which Jake Barnes and Brett Ashley intentionally evade direct memories of their respective war experiences. Patrick Quinn and Steven Trout’s essay analyzes A Farewell to Arms alongside “what many...