ISSUE DATE: Oct. 18, 1937
ALSO APPEARED: Dec. 13, 1954
In the eyes of the polite world, Ernest Hemingway has much to answer for. Armed with the hardest-hitting prose of the century, he has used his skill and power to smash rose-colored spectacles right & left, to knock many a genteel pretence into a sprawling grotesque. Detractors have called him a bullying bravo, have pointed out that smashing spectacles and pushing over a pushover are not brave things to do. As the “lost generation” he named* have grown greyer and more garrulous, so his own invariably disillusioned but Spartan books have begun to seem a little dated; until it began to be bruited that Hemingway was just another case of veteran with arrested development and total recall.
But among the more conscientious watchers of U. S. letters, the question still smouldered: What’s to happen to Hemingway? On the twin assumptions that (1) once an author had chosen a given field he could not depart from it, and hence (2) once he had exhausted that field or the public had tired of it, he was through as a writer, Hemingway was through. He had made himself the principal spokesman of the violence, aimlessness, brutality of war and the wartime generation. Violence, aimlessness, brutality were pretty well washed up as literary material. Ergo, Hemingway too was washed up—unless he scurried around quick and found some new stream in which to pan his gold.
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