Critical Essays American Literature

Hemingway, who identified Adventures of Huckleberry Finn as the source of all American literature, recognized this archetype, then updated and refined it.

The overriding theme of his stories and books was "grace under pressure" — specifically, the ability of "men without women" (the title of an early story collection) to remain calm and competent in the face of life-threatening violence.

The Hemingway Style Hemingway's influence has been even more pronounced in the realm of prose style.

In his first collection of stories and thereafter, he combined elements from Gertrude Stein, James Joyce, and journalism to create a radically modern approach to the writing of sentences and paragraphs distinguished by the following hallmarks: Many storytellers (Salter, Chandler, Mc Carthy, and others) have attempted to recapitulate Hemingway's themes while mimicking his prose style.

And the career of the George Plimpton has been a kind of parody of Hemingway's: Plimpton lived in Paris as a young man, but founded a magazine rather than writing stories and novels.

Since then he has engaged in a number of stunts that seem actually to mock Hemingway's vigorous lifestyle while attempting to pay it tribute: briefly fighting a champion boxer and playing professional football, for instance, then writing books about the experiences.

Then he went big-game hunting or deep-sea fishing, or to the bullfights.

Today, Hemingway's thematic influence is a victim of its own success.

The influence of the Hemingway hero can therefore be seen in many of the literary soldiers who followed in Henry's footsteps: for instance, the protagonist of James Salter's The Hunters, an account of the exploits of a Korean War jet pilot squadron. (Note: Like Frederic Henry, Chandler's protagonist Philip Marlowe is a veteran of World War I, as evinced by his trademark trenchcoat — the coat worn by Allied officers in the trenches of France and Italy.

It is even more evident in the archetypal tough-talking detectives of Raymond Chandler (The Big Sleep) and James Ellroy (L. Nearly every character Humphrey Bogart ever played onscreen was influenced by the Hemingway hero.) The cowboys in Cormac Mc Carthy's Border Trilogy are essentially Hemingway characters, too.


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