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Faulkner and Hemingway: Biography of a Literary Rivalry Hardcover – January 3, 2012

4.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"What is compelling in Fruscione's study is the way he extends these biographical skirmishes to the authors' writing, and how he discovers in them an intertextual back-and-forth that makes the contest less about professional jealousy and stature-jockeying than aesthetics. The book takes a persuasive ride through both major and minor works to demonstrate the differences involve so much more than polysyllables and dictionaries." --Kirk Curnutt, Professor & Chair of English, Troy University. See thehemingwayproject.com/.

"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

"Fruscione's detailed exploration of the ongoing competition between these two giants of twentieth-century American literature is a rewarding read. He charts the duel from the 1930s, through an 'almost' meeting in 1947 when Hemingway and his friend Toby Bruce stopped off in Oxford on their way from Key West to Michigan and Idaho, through their deaths in the early 1960s. Similarities abound and Fruscione does an admirable job of exploring them." --Mimi Reisel Gladstein for Notes and Queries, University of Texas at El Paso

“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

 “In his carefully and systematically researched book, Joseph Fruscione provides Faulkner and Hemingway scholars and students with what I qualify as the definitive study on the lifelong relation between the two writers. He provides insights not only into the various ways Faulkner’s and Hemingway’s careers intersected, but also into the implications that such intersections had for the shaping and evolution of American Modernism.” —Manuel Broncano, professor of American literature, Texas A & M International University

“Joseph Fruscione’s study is the best, most balanced account ever produced of the artistic relationship between William Faulkner and Ernest Hemingway. Their careers dominate twentieth-century American literature, and, as this book shows, the example and work of each writer informed and influenced that of the other. Both men recognized the value of the other, and Fruscione goes a long way toward explicating the complexities of admiration and jealousy on the part of both. Fruscione is not a partisan of either writer; his book is one of sound, objective scholarship and writing.” —Robert W. Trogdon, Kent State University

About the Author

Joseph Fruscione is adjunct professor of English at Georgetown University and adjunct assistant professor of First-Year Writing at George Washington University.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Ohio State University Press; 1st Edition edition (January 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0814211747
  • ISBN-13: 978-0814211748
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,982,364 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Fruscione's book is more interesting than most biographies of literary figures for one simple reason: it's about the books. Most bios start out with the parents, the hometown, the siblings, then progress to the marriages, the travels, the houses, the lovers, the divorces, the children, the vices, and everything else you never wanted to know. Sometimes biographers even touch on how their subjects got the ideas for their books. Sometimes not. A recent bio of Jack London devotes more space to London's introduction to surfing on a trip to Hawaii than it does to Martin Eden or The Call of the Wild.

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.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Readability: Difficult to Moderate. Full of academic language: few common phrases and cliché's. Concise, clear language. No explicit words found, save for those quoted by Hemingway and Faulkner.

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.
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Format: CD-ROM Verified Purchase
This book is both fascinating and extremely frustrating. There are numerous redundancies that wear on the reader (me) after a while. The editor should be lashed because this could be a great book. Each min-essay should be diagramed for content and the paragraphs summarized and labeled for theme or lead idea. How many times do we need to be proven that Faulkner and Hemingway are "aware" of each other or each other's creative powers. Most people who admire these two writers understand this aspect intuitively. How could they not be? How many times do we need to be told in the extremely long introduction that "this sort of book has never been written?" I guess seven times is a charm.

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.
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