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In Our Time – Ernest Hemingway

by on February 15, 2012

Overview

In Our Time is a collection of short stories written by the famed American author Ernest Hemingway and published in 1925. The collection introduces the character of Nick Adams, who is a frequent guest in Hemingway’s short stories, portraying important moments in his childhood, teenage years and adult life. “Indian Camp” tells of Nick and his father making a trip to deliver a baby to a Native American woman nearby while “The Doctor and the Doctor’s Wife” shows the difficult relationship between Nick’s father and mother. Nick is a teenager breaking up with his girlfriend in “The End of Something”, which transitions into “The Three-Day Blow” where Nick and his friend Bill hang out in a cabin during a storm. Later stories, like “The Battler” and “Cross Country Snow” feature Nick after he returns home from WWI and has landed on hard times. The collection ends on “The Big Two-Hearted River”, where Nick finds peace in nature; in fishing, solitude and silence.

Ernest Hemingway lead an extraordinary life, a life most of us can only dream of. He took part in several major wars in his lifetime. In WWI he was an active participant, driving an ambulance. In the Greco-Turkish War, the Spanish Civil War and World War II he was a journalist and a correspondent, getting seriously wounded several times. He survived two plane crashes and won a Nobel prize in 1954. The wounds sustained earlier in his life however left him in constant pain, and he committed suicide using a shotgun in 1961

My thoughts

I really like being at University studying English literature. It makes me read so many things that I’m not sure I’d have gotten around to it without the prodding. I’d always meant to read Hemingway, James Joyce, JD Salinger, Faulkner, Fitzgerald, and so many other great writers of the 20th century. The writing style of Hemingway I’d heard described as short, succinct, to the point. A professor told a little story, where Hemingway had been revising a story he had been working out and had gone through and crossed out all the adjectives.

Sentences are short, important matters are discussed in a blunt, down to earth manner of speaking, which almost made me feel like I was reading really dark children’s stories. Another thing that Hemingway felt very strongly about was that great art, and great literature, should be like an iceberg: 80% should be under the surface. The author should tell you the bare facts, while only alluding to what’s really going on. He imagined his readers as intelligent, curious people, who would search between the lines for the true meaning of the story. He obviously had too much faith in people.

While the stories varied in entertainment value for me, I quite enjoyed the few that I did like. Enough to make me go out and buy a bunch of Hemingway’s novels, like The Old Man and the Sea, For Whom the Bell Tolls and Farewell to Arms. I’ll let you know how that goes.

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From → Books

2 Comments
  1. Hi, great post about a great author. I’m an English major, and reading Hemingway was certainly some of the most pleasurable time that I’m had in college. “Indian Camp” in particular had a profound impact on me. There is not a word out of place in that story, and the imagery still resonates in my mind today. One book that you certainly will not want to miss by him is The Sun Also Rises. It is an essential for any Hemingway fan. Happy reading!

  2. Samir permalink

    A very nice post. I love Hemingway’s writing style and the books you bought are great reads. I’d also add Garden of Eden to the list.

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