Course description: Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway met in April 1925 in the Dingo Bar, rue Delambre, Paris, just after the publication of Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and shortly before the publication of Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises. The relationship that developed between them during the next fifteen years was important to both of them. In this course we will examine works by both of these authors, looking closely at the ways in which their stormy friendship influenced their writing and the direction of their literary careers.
Our major objective in this class will be to acquaint ourselves with the contributions to American letters of Fitzgerald and Hemingway through close reading and careful discussion of much of the fiction written by them–particularly of that fiction written during the time of their friendship, 1925-1940. Another main objective will be to familiarize ourselves with the major source material–biographical, bibliographical, and critical–for each author; and through the use of this material we will draw conclusions about their relationship to each other and to the time in which they wrote.
About this page: This page will host course-specific page links, documents, images, and contextual information related to authors and works being studied during the semester. It will contain information that supplements, but does not replace, the contents of Blackboard.
Seminar Presentations (Biographical Snapshots): Description and Suggestions
Critical Reception Reports Description and Suggestions
Schedule of Assignments
Seminar Biographical Snapshots Reports Schedule
Critical Reception Reports Schedule
Course Reserves (Three-day limit on checkout of books on reserve)
F. Scott Fitzgerald Chronology (from F. Scott Fitzgerald in Context)
F. Scott Fitzgerald Chronology
Ernest Hemingway Chronology (from Ernest Hemingway in Context)
Ernest Hemingway Chronology
- Fitzgerald born: September 24, 1896
- Hemingway born: July 21, 1899
1910-1919: World War I and the Armistice
At the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, the Great War ends.
FOUNDATIONAL FOR FITZGERALD AND HEMINGWAY: Quotations
We will set up two aesthetic principles for both Fitzgerald and Hemingway based on two quotations from each:
For Fitzgerald: There are two quotations that I will give our seminar (in paraphrase):
- “All life is a progression toward, and then a recession from, the sentence ‘I love you.'” This sentence becomes the basis for Fitzgerald’s “Golden Moment” idea. His stories and novels often do follow the pattern of progression toward and recession from falling in love–or a moment that recalls it. An example is with Gatsby and Daisy: Chapter five is at the center of the novel and the novel is structured around their meeting, while chapter 6 (telling in flashback the love story of 191) is structured around Gatsby’s kissing Daisy and “wedding his unutterable visions to her perishable breath.”
- “Genius is the ability to hold two ideas in the mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” This provides the basis for the aesthetic principle with Fitzgerald of “double vision”—the ability to be both within and without in a powerful emotional moment.”
- “If it is of any use to know it, I try to write on the principle of the iceberg: for every one-eighth that is above the water level, seven-eights is below it.” This provides a basis for his “iceberg theory,” evident in the rich subtext of virtually all of his work.
- “All life ends in death, and he is no true storyteller who would tell you otherwise.” This provides a foundation for the Hemingway code. One is aware of death and is heroic to the degree that he or she deals gracefully with the pressure of an acute awareness of death.
- Here is a link to “Cat Person” from The New Yorker that we may talk about in connection with Sally Carrol’s discussion with Roger Patton in “The Ice Palace.” She says, “You see I always think of people as feline or canine, irrespective of sex.”
- Click here: “Cat Person”
Overview of Fitzgerald’s Career as Short Story Writer:
Fitzgerald’s career as a writer of magazine fiction breaks logically into three periods: 1919-1924, years during which he shopped around for markets and published stories in most of the important periodicals of the times; 1925-1933, the central period characterized by a close association with the Saturday Evening Post–a relationship which almost precluded his publication of stories in other magazines; and 1934-1940, a period beginning with the publication of his first Esquire story and continuing through a subsequent relationship with that magazine which lasted until his death. During the first of these periods, Fitzgerald published thirty-two stories in ten different commercial magazines, two novels (This Side of Paradise and The Beautiful and Damned, 1922), two short-story collections (Flappers and Philosophers, and Tales of the Jazz Age), and one book-length play (The Vegetable). In the second period, during which The Great Gatsby (1925) and a third short-story collection (All the Sad Young Men) appeared, he enjoyed the popular reputation he had built with readers of the Saturday Evening Post and published forty-seven of the fifty-eight stories which appeared during this nine-year period ion that magazine; the remaining eleven stories were scattered throughout five different magazines. In the final period. Fitzgerald lost the large Saturday Evening Post audience and gained the Esquire audience, which was smaller and quite different. Of the forty-four Fitzgerald stories to appear between 1934 and his death, twenty-eight appeared in Esquire, In addition to Tender Is the Night (1934), which was completed and delivered before Fitzgerald’s relationship with Esquire began, Fitzgerald published his final short-story collection (Taps at Reveille); he also drafted The Last Tycoon during the Esquire years, twelve stories, nine of which have appeared in Esquire, have been published since his death.
(from “F. Scott Fitzgerald,” Critical Survey of Short Fiction.) To read the full chapter, Click Here “F. Scott Fitzgerald”
- With respect specifically to “The Ice Palace” and “The Jelly-Bean”:
“. . . [I]t must be said that Fitzgerald has invited–even seemingly required in the first two stories [of the Tarleton Trilogy], “The Ice Palace” and “The Jelly-Bean”–the kind of dialectical reasoning that critics have engaged in by having his narrators and characters create the dichotomies themselves, as Sally Carrol Happer does, for example, when she characterizes Northern men as canine and Southern men as feline, or as Nancy Lamar does in “The Jelly-Bean” when she maintains that all people in England have ‘style,’ whereas Americans, especially all Southern Americans, lack ‘style.'”
(from F. Scott Fitzgerald in Context, 157)
- “The Ice Palace”
In “The Ice Palace” Sally Carrol Happer is the Southern belle/flapper who takes her Northern fiancé to a Southern graveyard and waxes eloquent about her belief in the chivalric code: “people have these dreams they fasten onto things, and I’ve always grown up with [my] dream…. I’ve tried in a way to live up to those past standards [of the dead Old South] of noblesse oblige — there’s just the last remnants of it, you know….” But Sally Carrol also admits to one of the local boys, Clark Darrow, that “There’s two sides to me, you see. There’s the sleepy old side you love; and there’s a sort of energy — the feelin’ that makes me do wild things. That’s the part of me that may be useful somewhere, that’ll last when I’m not beautiful any more.” And though Sally Carrol tries to explore the “flapper” side of herself that wants to “go places,” wants “to live where things happen on a big scale,” she finally rejects that outside world and embraces her dual identity of flapper and belle in the place that she considers home: the South.
(from “An Affair of Youth” in Broad Street, issue 22, Spring/Summer 2016, p. 76). Online click here: “An Affair of Youth”
- “The Jelly-Bean”
In “The Jelly-Bean,” flapper Nancy Lamar is only coincidentally a Southern belle. Here is what she tells Jim Powell, the eponymous jelly-bean, who is defined in the story as a corner loafer “who spends his life conjugating the verb to idle in the first person singular”: “I’m a wild part of the world, Jelly-Bean…. I’m not like any girl you ever saw.” Nancy winds up later in the evening getting married, while drunk, to the son of a razor manufacturer from Savannah — obviously, with no apparent allegiance to the Old South — more flapper than belle.
(from “An Affair of Youth” in Broad Street, issue 22 , Spring/Summer 2016, pages 76-77). Online click here: “An Affair of Youth”
- “Bernice Bobs Her Hair”
“I had no idea of originating an American flapper when I first began to write. I simply took girls whom I knew very well and, because they interested me as unique beings, I used them for my heroines.”
— Fitzgerald’s Interview with B. F. Wilson, 1923
Overview of Fitzgerald’s Career as Novelist
For a background Article on The Great Gatsby, click here
The Great Gatsby structure sheet
Overview of Hemingway’s Career as Short Story Writer:
What evolves over the course of Hemingway’s forty-year career as a writer is a comprehensive code for living which acknowledges death as the end point in life. The characters to whom Hemingway is most sympathetic are those who exhibit grace under the pressure of an acute awareness of death. These characters usually live life in the present and live it to its fullest extent, enjoying the sensual pleasures that life has to offer; characters who are eating, drinking, and being merry with the knowledge that tomorrow they may die. It is no simple matter to pass into the knowledge of one’s mortality, however, as the characters in Hemingway’s early stories do, nor is it easy to learn how to live life fully. To accept death requires that one perfect the art of living; and, just as the cornerstone of the art of writing to Hemingway is economy (which the iceberg theory itself suggests), the art of living by the Hemingway code is based on economy of emotion and gesture. To follow the Hemingway hero throughout the short stories from his earliest example, Nick Adams, to his later portrayals, such as that of Francis Macomber, is to see the step-by-step development of Hemingway’s code for living in the modern wasteland, as well as the refinement of his aesthetic theories.
The stories about Hemingway’s thinly disguised persona, Nick Adams, which were interspersed through early collections of Hemingway’s stories and which are now collected under the title of The Nick Adams Stories, chronicle the movement of the code hero from a condition of innocence, a kind of pre-Adamic state during which he is unaware of his mortality, into a condition of experience or knowledge. The stories which perhaps best suggest this movement are “Indian Camp” and “Big Two-Hearted River.” Both of these stories–in the process of bringing Nick to the threshold of initiation into life in the presence of death and thus demonstrating the earliest stage in the gestation of the Hemingway code–clearly illustrate the iceberg theory in the deceptively apparent simplicity of their story lines.
- “Indian Camp”
“Indian Camp” on the surface appears to be a straightforward narrative about a boy who goes with his doctor-father on a trip into an Indian village to deliver a baby. The delivery is a difficult one which finally must be accomplished by Caesarian section and which causes so much pain to the mother that her screams cause her husband, who is on the bunk above her, to slit his own throat as the new baby is brought into the world. In the hands of a less skillful craftsman, the central facts of the mother’s painful ordeal and the father’s violent death would overshadow any of the story’s other concerns. For Hemingway, the events offer an opportunity to present a miniature study of the relationship of the seasonal cycle to the human life cycle. A close analysis of the story reveals that all of the details conspire to that end; and no detail is wasted. The scene begins in early morning before sunrise, when Nick and his father cross the water to go to the Indian camp–symbolically, the early morning of Nick’s life. His father takes him to witness the delivery of the baby ostensibly to show Nick more of life and the living. Perhaps also, it is suggested, the father takes his son to demonstrate the heroic power that enables him to bring new life into existence.
The father, with his knowledge of science, represents the intrusion of knowledge into the relative innocence of the primitive Indian civilization. While it is true that the knowledge which enables him to conduct the operation allows a new baby to be born, the pain that the operation cause brings about the death of the Indian father. After the ordeal, the doctor says to his son, “I’m terribly sorry I brought you along Nickie….It was an awful mess to put you through.” The words are resonant and apply to the story’s central theme: in the middle of life there is death, and while one might wish to show a child the beauty of life (birth), there is always the risk that it will be accompanied by its counterpart (death).
On the way back, trailing his hand in the chilly water–archetypally the symbol of death and life–Nick denies the lesson he has learned: “In the early morning on the lake sitting in the stern of the boat with his father rowing, he [Nick] felt quite sure that he would never die.” The surface of the story, the events of that morning whose focal point has been life on the bottom bunk and death above, has suggested the iceberg, which is the human condition as it is inextricably woven into the birth-death phases of the seasonal cycle. After such a morning, Nick may hold onto his romantic illusions of immortality a while longer, but he has moved very close to the knowledge of life in the presence of death which will necessitate the forming of a code by which to live his life.
(adapted from “Ernest Hemingway,” Critical Survey of Short Fiction.) To read the full chapter, click here.
- “The End of Something” (1925)
“A Clean, Well-Lighted Place”: The code through 1933:
The shift in Hemingway’s perspective is suggested subtly in the dramatic structure of “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place,” in which Hemingway often, and quite consciously, omits the dialogue guides, forcing the reader to decide whether the speaker is the young waiter or the old waiter. When one becomes aware of what Hemingway is doing in showing the two very different attitudes, however, the dialogue guides are unnecessary. Their omission becomes part of the iceberg, “the part you can omit and it only strengthens your iceberg.” The young waiter cannot understand the old man’s despair: “He has plenty of money,” the young waiter says. When asked by the old waiter the reason that the old man tried to commit suicide, the young waiter replies that it was “Nothing,” an answer which is right, ironically. The young waiter does not understand the “nothingness” concept that is affirmed in the old waiter’s “Our nada who art in nada” monologue, which indicates his degree of sympathy for the old man. Through the old waiter, who lives his life honestly and cleanly, Hemingway suggests that a life lived with an awareness of death at the end–in other words, with a recognition of nada at the core–will have moments of despair. For those moments, experienced by Jake in The Sun Also Rises, by Catherine in A Farewell to Arms, or the old man in the cafe, the only anodyne is a light bulb at night, a dry place out of the rain, or a clean, well-lighted cafe, in that order. In the stories and novels through 1933, the date of publication of “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place,” there is a distance between the code heroes and the thing itself, death. (Consider, though, the degree to which this is or is not true with Frederic Henry–presumably the initiate–and Catherine, arguably the code hero.)
1920-1929: Prosperity and Its Demise
- A Farewell to Arms: 1929:
There has been a subtle change from The Sun Also Rises to A Farewell to Arms in Hemingway’s perception of the human dilemma. The most revealing hint of this change is in the nature of the wound that Frederic receives while serving as an ambulance driver on the Italian front. Unlike Jake’s phallic wound, Frederic’s is a less debilitating leg wound, and, ironically, it is the thing which brings him closer to Catherine, an English nurse who treats him in the field hospital in Milan. Though their relationship begins as a casual one, viewed from the beginning by Frederic as a “chess game” whose object is sexual gratification, it evolves in the course of Catherine’s nursing him into a love that is both spiritual and physical. Catherine’s pregnancy affirms at least a partial healing of the maimed fisher king and the restoration of fertility to the wasteland that appeared in The Sun Also Rises.
With this improved condition, however, come new problems, and with them a need to amend the code practiced by Jake and Brett. Frederic’s dilemma at the beginning of the novel, how to find meaning in life when he is surrounded by death, contains clear-cut alternatives: he can seek physical pleasure in the bawdy houses frequented by his fellow soldiers, including his best friend Rinaldi, or he can search for meaning through the religion practiced by the priest from the Abruzzi; he can do either while fulfilling his obligation to the war effort. His choices, simple ones at first, become limited by forces beyond his control. First, he must discard the possibility of religion, because he cannot believe in it; then, he must reject the life of the bawdy houses, both because it is not fulfilling and because it often brings syphilis. These are choices which even a code novice such as Frederic Henry can make, but his next decision is more difficult. Knowing that Catherine is pregnant and knowing that he loves her, how can he continue to fight, even for a cause to which he feels duty bound? Catherine, who had earlier lost her fiance to the war and who had refused to give herself to him completely because of her sense of duty to the abstract virtue of premarital sexual purity, has prepared Frederic for his decision, one forecast by the title A Farewell to Arms. Frederic’s choice is made easier by the disordered and chaotic scenes that he witnesses during the Caporetta retreat, among them the shooting of his fellow officers by carabinieri. Partly because Catherine has initiated him into the life of love, then, and partly because he needs to escape his own death, Frederic deserts the Italian army in one of the most celebrated baptismal rites in American literature: he dives into the Tagliamento River and washes away his anger “with any obligation,” making what he terms a separate peace.
If Hemingway were a different kind of storyteller, the reader could anticipate that Frederic and Catherine would regain paradise, have their child, and live happily ever after. In fact, however, no sooner have they escaped the life-in-death of war in Italy to the neutrality of Switzerland, where the reader could logically expect in a fifth and final chapter of the novel a brief, pleasant postscript, than does the double edge hidden in the title become clear. Catherine has foreseen it all along in her visions of the rain, often a symbol of life, but in A Farewell to Arms a symbol of death: “Sometimes I see me dead in it,” she says. The arms to which frederic must finally say farewell are those of Catherine, who dies in childbirth. “And this,” Frederic observes, “is the price you paid for sleeping together. . . . This was what people get for loving each other.” Some will take this ending and Frederic Henry’s observations about love at face value and accuse Hemingway of stacking the odds against Frederic and Catherine, maintaining finally that Hemingway provides a legitimate exit from the wasteland with a code that would work and then barricades it capriciously. There is, however, ample warning. From the beginning of the novel, Hemingway establishes Catherine as one who knows well the dangers of loving, and from the time of her meeting with Frederic, she balances them against the emptiness of not loving. In most ways, Catherine is a model of the code hero/heroine established in The Sun Also Rises: she stoically accepts life’s difficulties, as evidenced by her acceptance of her fiance’s death; and she exhibits grace under pressure, as shown in her calm acceptance of her own death. In giving herself to Frederic, she adds a dimension to the code by breaking through the isolation and separateness felt by Jake and Brett; finally, even though she does not complete the re-creative cycle by giving birth to a child conceived in love, she at least brings the possibility within reach. The reader must decide whether Frederic will internalize the lessons he has learned through Catherine’s life and allow his own initiation into the code, which now contains the possibility of loving, to be accomplished.
Full discussion of Fitzgerald’s Southern Narrative: “The Ice Palace” (1920), “The Jelly-Bean” (1920),and “The Last of the Belles” (1929) from F. Scott Fitzgerald in Context
Fitzgerald’s Southern Narrative Mangum
1930-1939: The Great Depression
- “Babylon Revisited”:
for discussion click here
- Tender Is the Night: 1934]*
If The Great Gatsby is Fitzgerald’s masterpiece, his fourth and final complete novel, Tender Is the Night (1934), is his most ambitious. The major asset of Dick Diver, the novel’s main character, is his ability to solve complex problems using psychoanalytic theory, his modern legacy; his flaw, and as it turns out his legacy from the genteel tradition, is an excess of charm, which leaves him vulnerable to anyone who would use him, and ultimately leads him to moral and emotional bankruptcy. For Fitzgerald, a major challenge in handling Dick Diver’s story is the technical one of making his character flaw credible and his tragic fall inevitable. With bold experiments in point of view and inversion of chronological sequence, Fitzgerald tells Dick’s story, first from the vantage point of Rosemary Hoyt, a young movie star who observes him at the pinnacle of his career and at the height of his charm. Ultimately the novel employs numerous viewpoints as Fitzgerald carefully constructs the intersecting stories of Dick’s wife Nicole’s triumph over mental illness and of Dick’s dying fall, which Fitzgerald eloquently explains with allusions to Conrad in a 1934 letter to H. L. Mencken. Though some contemporary reviewers saw Tender Is the Night as a success, the majority found its chronological inversions and viewpoint shifts confusing.
Fitzgerald dies: December 21, 1940
1940-1949: World War II, The Atomic Bomb, NATO
- [For Whom the Bell Tolls: 1940]*
The epigraph of For Whom the Bell Tolls, which was taken from a John Donne sermon and which gives the novel its title, points clearly to Hemingway’s reevaluation of the role of death in life: “No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine. . . . And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” Regardless of the route by which Hemingway came to exchange the “separate peace” idea of The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms for the “part of the maine” philosophy embraced by Robert Jordan in For Whom the Bell Tolls, one can be sure that much of the impetus for his changing came from his strong feelings about Spain’s internal strife, particularly as this strife became an all-out conflict during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). This war provides the backdrop for the events of For Whom the Bell Tolls and the novel’s main character, like Hemingway, is a passionate supporter of the Loyalist cause. The thing that one immediately notices about Jordan is that he is an idealist, which sets him apart from Jake and Frederic. Also, unlike Jake, who wanders randomly throughout Europe, and unlike Frederic, whose reasons for being in Italy to participate in the war are never clearly defined, Jordan has come to the Sierra de Guadaramas with the specific purpose of blowing up a bridge that would be used to transport ammunition in attacks against the Loyalists. Thrown in with the Loyalist guerrillas of Pablo’s band at the beginning of the novel, Jordan is confronted with the near-impossible task of accomplishing the demolitiion in three days, a task whose difficulty is compounded by Pablo’s resistence to the idea and, finally, by increased Fascist activity near the bridge.
Potentially even more threatening to Jordan’s mission is his meeting and falling in love with beautiful and simple Maria, who is in the protection of Pablo’s band after having been raped by the Falangists who killed her parents. Again, however, Jordan is not Frederic Henry, which is to say that he has no intention of declaring a separate peace and leaving his duty behind in pursuit of love. He sees no conflict between the two, and to the degree that Hemingway presents him as the rare individual who fulfills his obligations without losing his ability to love, Jordan represents a new version of the code hero: the whole man who respects himself, cares for others, and believes in the cause of individual freedom. Circumstances, though, conspire against Jordan. Seeing that his mission stands little hope of success and that the offensive planned by General Golz is doomed to failure by the presence of more and more Fascists, he attempts to get word through to Golz, but the message arrives too late. Although he manages successfully to demolish the bridge and almost escapes with Maria, his wounded horse falls, rolls over, and crushes Jordan’s leg. He remains at the end of the novel in extreme pain, urging the others not to stay and be killed with him, and waiting to shoot the first Fascist officer who comes into range, thus giving Maria and Pablo’s group more time to escape.
Jordan is perhaps Hemingway’s most ambitious creation, just as For Whom the Bell Tolls is his most elaborately concieved novel. Its various strands reflect not only what he had become the standard Hemingway subjects of personal death, love, and war, but also his growing concern with the broader social implications of individual action. Jordan’s consideration of his mission in Spain clearly demonstrates this: “I have fought for what I believe in for a year now,” he says. “If we win here we will win everywhere. . . .” How well Hemingway has woven together these strands remains a matter of critical debate, but individually the parts are brilliant in conception. One example of the many layers of meaning contained in the novel is the Civil War framework, which leads the reader not only to see the conflict of social forces in Spain but also to understand that its analogue is the “civil war” in Jordan’s spirit: the reader is reminded periodically of the noble death of Jordan’s grandfather in the American Civil War, compared to the “separate peace” suicide of Jordan’s father. Jordan debates these alternatives until the last scene when he decides to opt for an honorable death which gives others a chance to live. This, Hemingway seems finally to say, gives Jordan’s life transcendent value.
The Last Tycoon: 1941
1950-1959 – Two Cars in Every Garage
[The Old Man and the Sea: 1952]*
Hemingway dies: July 2, 1961
A Moveable Feast: 1964
* indicates we aren’t reading these books in brackets