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Faulkner and Hemingway: Biography of a Literary Rivalry Hardcover – January 3, 2012
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"Fruscione adds a critical dimension to his book that distinguishes it from other biographical treatments of the Faulkner-Hemingway rivalry. While demonstrating the ways in which a literary relationship can exemplify the principle of iron sharpening iron, Fruscione has also forged a work of considerable merit and originality." --Neil Stubbs for The Hemingway Review, University of Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada
“Joseph Fruscione takes a long and always responsible look at the important and fascinating subject of the Faulkner-Hemingway rivalry, demonstrating along the way that there were losses to both writers, but, however perversely it seems to be, there were also enormous gains for their writing. It contributes significantly to the scholarship on these two literary giants, as well as shedding light on the intriguing ways rivalry can diminish the individual who writes the book even as it spurs him on to do more and often enough write better books.” —George Monteiro, professor emeritus of English, Brown University
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This book is focused on the bitter literary rivalry between William Faulkner and Ernest Hemingway and--most important of all--how this rivalry affected what they wrote. I knew the two had a rivalry, but Fruscione convincingly demonstrates how deeply and pervasively this rivalry inserted itself as the subtext in so many of their greatest books: The Wild Palms, The Unvanquished, Death in the Afternoon, the hunting stories, Requiem for a Nun, The Old Man and the Sea, A Fable, Across the River and into the Trees, and The Dangerous Summer, to name but a few. There is also relevant and interesting discussion of the rivalry as it surfaced in their letters, public statements, and Nobel Prize addresses. The analysis is detailed and illuminating--and also by far the main focus of the book. This is not a gossip volume; it is literary analysis. There are certain aspects of the writings of both men that you will never fully understand if you have not read this book. That makes this book essential if you are serious about coming to grips with either of these amazingly gifted writers.Read more ›
Novel Premise: Engaging! What happens when two literary giants live and write during the same era? A passive-aggressive rivalry, of course, and one that's quite entertaining. It traces the different eras of the modernist period, starting with interactions with Sherwood Anderson, and pushing on past military service, into the eventual end of each author. There are plenty of comparisons with letters, off-hand comments, and - yay! - Faulkner's addressing his class, ranking Hemingway in a list of 'the best' writers - but not ranking him highly. There are also comments from the author's about other writers (Steinbeck, for instance). Interesting and well-planned.
Overall Impression: I enjoyed the book. It's an academic book written by an academic, so we're not ranking the prose within the novel, nor are we really concerned about narration - although, in this case, there is a few idiosyncrasies that stick out, such as the use of the term 'psychocompetative'. This is a term the author made up. I'm a literary major myself, and I looked into it - even checked with my professors - and, apparently, the only person to ever use this term (so far as I can find in the university library and online database) is Fruscione, himself, who coined the term without any head-nod from a psychology department - and the term is repeated too often. The point, though, is that the book looks into the psychological states of both men, as it relates to their competition once both were aware of the other, and the book makes it fun, which is important.Read more ›
However, once the book is rolling the correspondence and competitive aspect of their relationship was a lot of fun to read and the author is obviously a scholar worthy of his mighty subjects and he is equip enough for the task for us to trust him.
A minor quibble (but very annoying to the OCD, which I gather will be your main audience for such a book) : I do not see the purpose for the word, "psychocompetitive" nor do I see the need to cram it in every other paragraph. It's one of those words that seems a bit to close to a portmanteau and the word "competitive" would work just fine in most cases. It would be less wearying for the reader to constantly materialize the meaning of this word and apply it fittingly or in the way the author desires. After all, "competitive" is a wonderful word that encompasses all the Freudian and Jungian baggage the author needs to drive home the point.Read more ›