Hemingway: Life & Work

Kenneth S. Lynn, Author
Kenneth S. Lynn, Author Simon & Schuster $24.45 (704p) ISBN 978-0-671-49872-6
Reviewed on: 06/26/1987
Release date: 07/01/1987
Undaunted by the large body of biographical and critical work that has preceded his own, Lynn succeeds in casting the familiar life of Ernest Hemingway in a new and interesting light. He focuses on key events and relationships that affected the novels and short stories that ultimately changed our literature: Hemingway's traumatic wounding in World War I; his wives and lovers; and, most importantly, the parents who shaped his Oak Park years. Cursed with the same depressive streak, Hemingway was haunted by his father's suicide. Much of his own strength and talent was drawn from his mother, but her overpowering influence left other marks as well. She dressed him as a twin to his older sister when he was a toddler, an experience that undoubtedly contributed to the subsequent counter-posture of excessive masculinity central to Hemingway's public image. Nevertheless, Lynn finds evidence aplenty that this childhood feminization also accounted for a lifelong fascination with androgyny and sexual transposition vis-a-vis women, imparting another level of meaning to Hemingway's oft-repeated declaration that in his writing he wanted ""to make people feel more than they understood.'' Taking as his premise Hemingway's glib assertion that the only analyst he relied upon was his ``portable Corona Number 3,'' Lynn (Literary and Historical Writing About America, etc.t tracks the exploration of a disordered inner world as Hemingway sought to find some sort of resolution to the agony of his personal conflicts through ``his cunningly wrought fiction.'' The man who emerges from Lynn's biography is a vastly more complex and compelling figure than the white-bearded, pontificating ``Papa'' of myth. Photos. BOMC alternate. (July 22)
MORE BOOKS YOU'D LIKE
X