Scholes on Hemingway, Conversation 11.27.95

Scholes says: Phil, that's a lot of questions all at once. Let me make a
     start on an answer.  First of all, we know it's a very early story,
     started before Paris, even.  Also, we know that Hemingway wanted it to
     be the first story in _In Our Time_, but the editors would not accept
     it.  Hemingway said that at a certain point in this story he began to
     get dialogue right--which, of course became one of his great strengths
     as a writer. Thematically, this is one of those stories abouthow men
     and women fail to understand one another, so that it connects to many
     other stories in that first collection a in a later one like _Men
     Without Women_.
Stratton says: Leslie Fiedler, in Love and Death in the American Novel,
     writes that Heminway, in "Up in Michigan," is "nostalgically evoking
     his boyhood."  Do you see this "nostalgia" in that story, or do you
     feel that Hemingway is anything but nostalgic for that time and place?
Scholes says: Great question, Stratton. First of all, however, the story is
     set in a time before Hemingway was born.  Maybe Leslie didn't notice
     that. Second, I think the place is not the main thing in the story.
Weisser says: greetings Dr. Scholes
Scholes says: Hemingway wrote a story called A Natural History of the Dead.
Hefner says: My reading of Hem does not reveal a lot of sympathy for women. Is
     "michigan" an attempt at this and, if so, does the terse, male-type
     prose undermine the attempt?
Scholes says: Hello Weisser
Scholes says:  Good question, Ron.  I'll try a short answer.
Scholes says: I think Hemingway actually liked women a lot--especially
     strong ones.  Think of Pilar in FWTBT, for instance.  In "Up in
     Michigan" I see him trying to imagine how such an event looks from the
     woman's point of view. He was always trying out different points of
Brannen says: Is Liz Coates' violent seduction a small death, and as such a
     thematic instance of death and dying?
Scholes says: I don't read it as a death, more of a wound. It's Jim who is
     dead to the world at the end, of course, with Liz covering him up as if
     he were her child.
Munns says: At the end of the third paragraph hemingway writes:"Liking that
     made her feel funny."(Ref: Jim's white arms). Grammar bows to rhetoric
     here and sends the reader back to find the  noun for "that" and, in
     doing so, discovers that it is a masterpiece of transition,
     foreshadowing, and synedoche.  Do you think Hemingway was experimenting
     with this one or did it just come out this way?
Scholes says: I think Hemingway uses vague pronoun reference in this story
     in a very mature way, which he often repeats later on.  Not just
     "that," of course, but "it."
Taylor stares at it.
Scholes says: Go for it.
Lance says: I have recently read an article that describes Hemingway's
     theory of omission, in which Hemingway deliberately  omitted details
     that he felt the reader would be able to infer if the narrative were
     written skillfully enough. Was this a technique that he independently
     developed or was it the result of an outside literary influence?
Ahern says: Jackie, can you give us the name of article and author?
Scholes says: I don't know. (Professors need to say that more.) But he
     certainly developed that technique in his own way.
Gauntt says: The use of parataxis in THE SUN ALSO RISES, combined with
     Jake's dubious honesty as a narrator make the question of meaning in
     the novel a problematic one.  Can and should the reader engage in a
     search for the "truth" behind Jake's narration, or is a questioning of
     the narrative and one's own reading the intended effect?
Scholes says: Tell me more about Jake's "dubious honesty."
Gauntt says: Well, for instance, Jake implies that he is a bull fighting
     aficionado, y et he misinterprets Romero's gesture to Brett; there is
     also some question in my mind as to how he knows so much detail about
     Cohn's background and feelings.  Jake seems to be manipulative,
     encouraging the reader to agree with his opinions when they may or may
     not be well founded.
Scholes says: I think that Jake is a lot like Hemingway, except that his
     wound makes his gender a bit ambiguous. But I think he is a pretty
     reliable narrator. In answer to the larger theoretical question, I
     would say that we have no choice but to imagine the work's meanings as
     intended by an author, in this case, Hemingway. This means that, with
     respect to Jake, we would have to consider whether he is intended to be
Walker says: Hemingway's depiction of women, i.e., Brett in _The Sun Also
     Rises_, seems rather one-dimensional.  Of course, many of the male
     characters are as well, but the novel has very little "feminine"
     interest--almost a male-bonding kind of thing.  Do you see this as, at
     least in part, because of Jake's emasculation, or how much of this is
     actually attributable to Hemingway's style?
Scholes says: Janice, I think Brett is actually one of Hemingway's more
     interesting women characters, because she is strong, and is a sexual
     subject in a "masculine" way--like Carmen. We also have to remember
     that in this novel Hemingway is working pretty close to actual people
     and events.  The Jake character even wrote his own version of the
     story, complete with his elopement with the Brett character.
Ahern says: Hemingway's textual ellipses may be said to point to places in
     the narrative in which the reader is able to infer something about the
     thoughts, actions, or life of one, or more, of the characters.  What do
     you make of this technique as it applies to Brett and Jake in _The Sun
     Also Rises_?  How about the ending -- does the story continue after the
     last page?
Smith says: What aspect of Hemingway's craftsmanship as a writer has held
     the most
Scholes says: I think it is always interesting to imagine how things might
     go on after the "closure" offered by a narrative. I would like to know
     whether Hemingway thought that a man who is "impotent" could find ways
     to please a woman like Brett. My guess is that he didn't think so. 
     Therefore, their relationship is hopeless. Which is what "pretty to
     think so" means.
Smith says: What aspect of Hemingway's craftsmanship as a writer has held
     the most interest for you in terms of fruitful analysis of the texts?
Scholes says: I really liked Hemingway when I was college age. The prose
     fascinated me, and I think I liked his attitude too. Later, I became
     less interested in him. For me, the availability of the _Garden of
     Eden_ opened up aspects of Hemingway that I hadn't really noticed. So I
     began to come back and reread him.  The complexity of his treatment of
     gender helped me to like his work again.
Drake says: The critical debate continues over to what degree Hemingway's
     style is consciously, meticulously wrought.  While rereading several of
     the short stories, I noticed several instances of a particularly
     sophisticated type of repetition--chiasmus (e.g. "Up in Michigan": 
     "She was frightened but she wanted it.  She had to have it but it
     frightened her").  Is such chiasmatic repetition merely coincidental,
     or is perhaps Hemingway's style more deliberately artful than many
     critics have hitherto acknowledged.
Scholes says: People who don't think that prose is artful haven't been
     paying attention. It is, I think, an art that is minimal in its devices
     but powerful in its affects.  He has a small bag of tricks, but he
     really knows how to use them.
Taylor says: American writers such as Hemingway and Fitzgerald are often
     held up as quintessential examples of modernism and/or high modernism. 
     But in terms of narrative structure, these authors make significant use
     of chaotic, protean, and self-referential voices--qualities that are
     suppose to be definitive of postmodernism.  Can we accurately point to
     examples that clearly contrast modern and postmodern narrative
     structures?  If so, where might we point?  Possibly into cyberspace?
Scholes says: I think the postmodern is a matter of quoting and ironical
     recycling of old methods. Hemingway cared a lot about actually
     representing the way people lived and actually making ethical judgments
     about how they lived. He is a low modernist, I would say, rather than a
     high one, which is to say that he never gave up on realism, even though
     he cared a lot about style and form.
Falco says: Although FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS is ostensibly a leftist work,
     the atrocities of the fascists are downplayed while Pilar gives a vivid
     account of barbaric behavior of the rebels. How does this fit in with
     Hemingway's leftist leanings in this novel?
Scholes says: Complex question, Falco. We have what happened to Maria as an
     example of what the fascists did. Hemingway thought that a certain kind
     of person would give in to evil impulses in any kind of extreme
     situation. That goes beyond politics. Remember, Robert Jordan is
     working for the communists in the novel, not the anarachists, because
     he thinks the communists are better organized. The "left" is not a
     simple thing in the novel--nor in the war.
Zangla says: In _The Sun Also Rises_ the motif of time seems to be
     inaccurate.  No mattter how hard I try, I can't make the novels action
     fit.  In constructing a calendar, the dates do not work with the
     evidence given.  Time seems to be important to the reader due to the
     fact that the title tells us that the sun rises.  IUs this a Hemingway
     technique (keeping the reader confused) or sloppy writing?  I am trying
     to give him the credit he deserves in that, I want to feel that no
     matter what happens or what time it is the sun will rise.
Scholes says: I'd have to sit down with a calendar to see what the problems
     are--or to be convinced that there are time problems. Let's remember
     that the title is part of a quotation from that uncheerful prophet
Rand says: Typically, the protagonist of a short story is introduced first.
     In terms of narrative technique, how does the order of the first two
     paragraphs in "Up in Michigan" affect the story's gender perspective
     and the readrer's interpretation of the central protagonist?
Scholes says: I'm not sure there is a typical beginning to a short story.
     But Up in Michigan is clearly about two people, and is told at moments,
     from both points of view, though it settles into that of Liz at the
     end. The story began, of course, with Hemingway thinking of how the
     parents of a friend of his got married. He even used their real names
     in an early draft.
Weisser says: There seems to be a good bit of gender blurring in The Sun
     Also Rises, and even more of it in The Garden of Eden.  What's your
     take on all of this?
Scholes says: It's all in a very good book, which I wrote half of, that will
     be in paperback any minute now--called _Hemingway's Genders_.
Sipiora says: Only recently have we begun to explore teaching literature
     "electronically," including such sessions as today. What are some of
     the ways that you feel the teaching of literature might be enhanced
     through electronic means? Can you tell us what you are doing
     electronically in your classes?
Sipiora says: 10 MINUTE WARNING
Scholes says: Big, serious question, Phil. I am doing a lot. In my present
     graduate seminar, much of the course is based on web pages, with
     student work posted after it comes in, links for research provided, and
     so on. Students attach their papers to emails, so I can post them.
Scholes says: Last questions?
Stratton says: Hemingway appeared to have some negative feelings about
     pregnancy and childbirth, e.g., "Hills," "Indian Camp," and FTA.  Do
     you think Jake can't complete THE act with Brett so that they can
     continue their relationship, since pregnancy would ruin everything, or
     kill her?
Scholes says: I like the question, but I think the answer is no, in
     Hemingway's world, you lose either way.
Ron says: In the ending of "Michigan," the woman embraces pain while the man
     is oblivious. Is this a universal view to Hemingway? Does it appear in
     other works?
Scholes says: I think Liz is busy making her world conform to her romantic
     notions, to the extent that she can. The irreconcilable differences
     between the sexes are Hemingway's main domestic topic.

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