“The road bare and white”: Hemingway, Europe and the Artifice of Ritualised Space
Keywords:Hemingway, Landscape, Foucault, Heterotopia, Ritual
AbstractErnest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises (1926) and A Farewell to Arms (1929) are novels in which imagined space and material place interact, collide and contradict. Despite both texts being set in Europe, Hemingway’s prose reveals American anxieties regarding war and identity. His protagonists are emasculated by war and alienated from the myths that have generated singular ideals of American masculinity. The novels imbue European landscapes with ritual and symbolism that create new imagined landscapes on which to perform and reassert this lost identity. Simultaneously, they are texts that expose the artifice of such performative endeavours. These oppositions and dissonances are read here through the prism of Foucault’s paradigmatic “heterotopia”. Foucault suggests that we are in an “epoch of juxtaposition” in which our conflicting understanding of space and place “cannot be superimposed”. This paper argues that Hemingway’s fiction offers a consciously empty form of symbolic space. The failure of the imagination and the knowing artifice of text suggest that the postwar heterotopia leaves no place for material manifestations of mythic autonomy, agency or free will. Hemingway imposes a distinctly American aesthetic on his European experiences. The now mythical frontier provides a mythic locale for the rituals of war to be performed. In this sense, war is heterotopian in its competing material and mythic constructions. Hemingway’s fiction explores the liminal gaps between such certainties. This analysis moves from the vibrant streets of Paris and the whirling chaos of Milanese nightlife to ‘clean’ Alpine lakes, the reductive simplicities of Spanish life and the violent horrors of the Caporetto Retreat. The rituals performed in Europe provide a chance to relocate lost American identities but this process is ultimately revealed as empty and futile. These are textual spaces that are themselves heterotopian. Their prose experiments suggest sub-textual depth yet simultaneously reveal emptiness and futility lying beneath the sparse and economical tone.
Beebee, Thomas O. (2008): “Geographies of Nation and Region in Modern European and American Fiction”. Clcweb: Comparative Literature & Culture: A Wwweb Journal, 10(3): 2-10. https://doi.org/10.7771/1481-4374.1377
Bercovitch, Sacvan (1993): The Rites of Assent: Transformations in the Symbolic Construction of America. London: Routledge.
Butler, Judith. (1988): “Performative Acts and Gender Constitution: An Essay in Phenomenology and Feminist Theory”. Theatre Journal, 4: 519-531. https://doi.org/10.2307/3207893
Cooperman, Stanley (1967): World War I and the American Novel. Baltimore: John Hopkins Press.
Fiedleson, Charles (1953): Interpretations of American Literature. Chicago: Chicago University Press.
Foucault, Michel, and Jay Miskowiec (1986): “Of Other Spaces”. Diacritics, 16(1): 22-27. https://doi.org/10.2307/464648
Foucault, Michel (2002): “The Incitement to Discourse”. In T. Atkinson, ed., The Body, London: Palgrave MacMillan, 41-51.
Hellengren, Anders (2017): “A Case of Identity: Ernest Hemingway”. Nobelprize.org. Nobel Prize Media AB 2014. Web. 29 Nov 2017. <http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/1954/hemingway-article.html>.
Hemingway, Ernest (2012): A Farewell to Arms. London: Simon and Schuster.
Hemingway, Ernest (2012): The Sun Also Rises. London: Simon and Schuster.
Hutchinson, Hazel (2015): The War that Used up Words: American Writers and the First World War. New Haven: Yale University Press. https://doi.org/10.12987/yale/9780300195026.001.0001
Hewson, Marc (2003): ““The Real Story of Ernest Hemingway”: Cixous, Gender, and A Farewell to Arms”. The Hemingway Review, 22(2): 51-62. https://doi.org/10.1353/hem.2003.0008
Lewis, Richard W. B. (2009): The American Adam. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Pizer, Donald. (1997): American Expatriate writing and the Paris M: Modernism and Place. Baton Rouge: LSU Press.
Procacci, Giovanna (2002): Studi Sulla Prima Guerra Mondiale. Trieste: EUT-Edizione Università Trieste.
Pozorski, Aimee L. (2004): “Infantry and Infanticide in A Farewell to Arms”. The Hemingway Review, 23(2): 75-98. https://doi.org/10.1353/hem.2004.0027
Rodríguez-Pazos, G. (2014): “Bulls, Bullfights, and Bullfighters in Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises”. The Hemingway Review, 34(1): 82-94. https://doi.org/10.1353/hem.2014.0023
Rus, Dana (2011): “Elusiveness and Ambiguity in the Concept of the American Frontier”. Studia Universitatis Petru Maior. Philologia, 11: 217-221.
Slotkin, Richard (1973): Regeneration through violence: The Mythology of the American Frontier, 1600-1860. Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press.
Slotkin, Richard (1992): Gunfighter Nation: The Myth of the Frontier in Twentieth-Century America. Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press.
Spanier, Sandra Whipple, and Scott Donaldson (1991): Hemingway's Unknown Soldier: Catherine Barkley, the Critics, and the Great War. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Tanner, Tony (1989): Scenes of Nature, Signs of Men: Essays on 19th and 20th Century American Literature, vol. 31. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Turner, Frederick Jackson (2008): The Significance of the Frontier in American History. London: Penguin.
How to Cite
Copyright (c) 2018 Fraser David Mann
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.