Ernest Hemingway and the Surrealist garden
Willingham, Kathy G.
MetadataShow full item record
Ernest Hemingway's longstanding mentor, friend, and ultimately critic, Gertrude Stein, once remarked, "But what a story that of the real Hem, and one he should tell himself but alas he never will. After all, as he himself once murmured, there is the career, the career" (217). If ever a book was written which appears to respond to the gauntlet thrown down by Stein it is The Garden of Eden. Stein apparently sensed aspects of Hemingway's character which most other failed to see. Traditionally, Hemingway has been associated with a love of blood sports, a penchant for violence, and an attitude toward women which suggests misogyny. Though his work may occasionally support such a profile, these assessments tell us as much about the critics reading and interpreting his works as they do about the works themselves, for in order to privilege this masculine hermeneutic, the one which has dominated Hemingway studies for years, many images, motifs, and themes must be repressed. From the very outset, Hemingway's fiction has contained representations which suggest a portrait incongruent with the more traditional one, yet the masculine myth has continued to flourish, eclipsing or overshadowing antithetical responses to the man and his oeuvre. Largely as a result of the publication of The Garden of Eden in 1986, the critics began to acknowledge Hemingway's longstanding interest in transsexuality, androgyny, homosexuality, eroticism, and fetishism, illustrating their significance in works written over fifty years ago. Significantly Garden's publication has also triggered a number of revisionist biographies and symposiums, clearly reflecting the commitment existing within Hemingway studies to pursue stringently a long overdue reassessment of the man and his work.