Friday, September 18, 2020

"In Our Time" by Ernest Hemingway

 

Not my new favorite Hemingway, despite the presence of some of my favorite short stories of his.

In Our Time is a collection of vignettes about war and bullfighting that intersperse a lot of short stories, many of them featuring Hemingway's alter ego, Nick Adams.  The vignettes focus on gory, unpleasant, depressing events, and the short stories are similarly about death, loss, leaving, and things ending badly, all except the last two, which are "Big Two-Hearted River" parts 1 and 2. 

Only in those last two stories to we finally start to see someone finding peace and healing.  Until them, the focus seems to be on the elusiveness of happiness.  I think Hemingway is saying that you can't find happiness or healing when you're with other people, even your friends.  Only by going away from the rest of humanity can you find the peace and healing you need.  So bleak.  Oh, Hemingway, you make me so sad for you.

I think that young people today, the ones who are angry and railing against everything, should read Hemingway.  Especially this.  I think it would help them see that disaffection, disillusionment, and feeling lost and alone are not at all new.  They're present whenever people turn their backs on God and each other.

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It: PG-16 for some bad language, violence, gore, oblique sexual references, and general depressingness.



This is my 2nd book read and reviewed for my third go-'round with the Classics Club and my 35th for #TheUnreadShelfProject2020.

8 comments:

  1. I'm set to read this later this year for a class, and I knew absolutely nothing about it, so it's good to get a glimpse of what I'll be in for. xD

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    1. Olivia, oh boy! I hope we can discuss it, then. I love Hemingway as a writer, but don't love so much of *what* he writes, isn't that funny? Definitely have something cheery on hand to intersperse with this if necessary. This is probably the toughest read of his, as there's very little light or hope except in 3 or 4 stories.

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    2. I'll let you know what I think of it! That is funny, yes! I've only read The Old Man and the Sea, once, and I was not a fan. That was several years ago, so I'm curious to see what I end up thinking of him when/if I give his oeuvre another try.

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    3. Olivia, I did not like TOMATS at all when I read it in college. It wasn't until I reread it in my late twenties or so that I *got* it and stopped being disappointed -- like Great Gatsby it was soooooo hyped by my lit textbooks/profs as "Great American Literature" and I was expecting something that blew my mind, not a quiet story about perseverance and endurance. You can read my fuller thoughts on it here if you want...

      But if you want to genuinely like Hemingway, I suggest trying to find a collection of his Nick Adams stories. I have this one, which puts them in chronological order as they occur, not as they were written, which makes for a really cool read.

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  2. I don't think I've read any Hemingway since middle school, so this post has definitely added to my Hemingway knowledge!

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    1. John Smith, interesting! What did you read of his in middle school? I had some high schoolers read "Big Two-Hearted River" and "A Day's Wait" last year, but I feel like most of his work isn't going to really be understood until you're in your twenties or so.

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    2. In 8th- or 9th-grade English (both middle school), we would have read "Hills Like White Elephants." I think "A Farewell To Arms" might have been one I selected, and then wrote a report on.

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    3. John Smith, ahhh, that story IS a darling of English teachers for some odd reason. I am not really a fan of it. Or of A Farewell to Arms, though I understand why it's important. It's just too depressing for me to actually like it.

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