In the second of his series of five biographies of Ernest Hemingway, Michael Reynolds turns to the years that formed the writer's distinctive style and critical intelligence. He exhaustively chronicles the particular literary influences on Hemingway, oftentimes even recounting the reading lists that the writer received from particular individuals. "Reading The Wasteland
with Ezra Pound at one's elbow is no bad way to pick up a thing or two," he dryly observes at one point. He also pays close attention to Hemingway's conversations with, and studying the literature of, Pound, James Joyce, and particularly Gertrude Stein, who later complained that for all of Hemingway's talent, "He looks like a modern and he smells of the museums." Reynolds's sympathy for his subject is so complete that at times his own stylistic voice becomes a sort of homage to Hemingway's--colloquial, declarative, and wry. At times, however, he too liberally assumes the inner thoughts of his subjects. The substantial research and period analysis he commands turn such repeated phrases as "he must have thought" or "it must have seemed to him" into an unnecessary striving for authority. At his best, though, Reynolds not only uses his extensive source material with a critical eye but provides a wealth of information about the social, political, and literary backgrounds of a time and place that were in many ways the dawn of the 20th century's intellectual tradition. --John Longenbaugh
From Publishers Weekly
Drawing on new sources, the author of The Young Hemingway here skillfully picks up where the earlier book left off, showing how a callous, uneducated, very young writer transformed his straightforward journalistic approach--"the narrator conscious of his own responses to the event"--into a cornerstone of his fiction. Based in Paris from 1921 to 1926, the brash braggart Hemingway, as portrayed by Reynolds, learned from what he read, experienced and observed, letting neither his wife nor his friendships--nor his constant sore throats--stand in the way of his career as a novelist. This is an entertaining, evocative, major biography of an exasperating man, and an enthralling re-creation of literary, artistic and sporting Paris during the Jazz Age. Photos not seen by PW.
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