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In Our Time Paperback – January 31, 1996

4.2 out of 5 stars 170 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

No writer has been more efficiently overshadowed by his imitators than Ernest Hemingway. From the moment he unleashed his stripped-down, declarative sentences on the world, he began breeding entire generations of miniature Hemingways, who latched on to his subtractive style without ever wondering what he'd removed, or why. And his tendency to lapse into self-parody during the latter half of his career didn't help matters. But In Our Time, which Hemingway published in 1925, reminds us of just how fresh and accomplished his writing could be--and gives at least an inkling of why Ezra Pound could call him the finest prose stylist in the world.

In his first commercially published book (following the small-press appearance of Three Stories and Ten Poems in 1924), Hemingway was still wearing his influences on his sleeve. The vignettes between each story smack of Gertrude Stein, whose minimalist punctuation and clodhopping rhythms he was happy to borrow. "My Old Man" sounds like Huck Finn on the Grand Tour: "Well, we went to live at Maisons-Lafitte, where just about everybody lives except the gang at Chantilly, with a Mrs. Meyers that runs a boarding house. Maisons is about the swellest place to live I've ever seen in all my life." But in the "The Battler" or "Indian Camp" or "Big Two-Hearted River," Hemingway finds his own voice, shunning the least hint of rhetorical inflation and sticking to just the facts, ma'am. His reluctance to traffic in high-flown abstraction has often been chalked up to postwar disillusion--as though he were too much of a simpleton to make deliberate stylistic decisions. Still, nobody can read "Soldier's Home" without drawing a certain connection between the two. Returning home to Oklahoma, the hero finds that his tales of combat are now a bankrupt genre:

Even his lies were not sensational at the pool room. His acquaintances, who had heard detailed accounts of German women found chained to machine guns in the Argonne forest and who could not comprehend, or were barred by their patriotism from interest in, any German machine gunners who were not chained, were not thrilled by his stories.
If we are to believe Michael Reynolds and Ann Douglas, this passage reflects the author's own dreary homecoming as a member of the lost generation. It's also a fine example of a surprisingly rare phenomenon, at least at this point in his career: Hemingway being funny. --James Marcus

About the Author

Ernest Hemingway did more to influence the style of English prose than any other writer of his time. Publication of The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms immediately established him as one of the greatest literary lights of the 20th century. His classic novella The Old Man and the Sea won the Pulitzer Prize in 1953. Hemingway was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954. He died in 1961.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; 1st Scribner Paperback Fiction edition (January 31, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684822768
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684822761
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (170 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,648 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is by far my favorite Hemingway. To the newcomer: please don't be fooled by the simple style and the often elliptical exposition. There is so much more here than is evident on a first reading. It takes a while to discover the complexity of Hemingway's themes and the emotional strings he pulls because his style is so spare, strong, and perfect. Like small, meticulously arranged blocks, with brilliant vignettes between them as mortar, he builds a stirring and often frightening image of the twentieth century. Everything is here--young love, political violence, adolescent confusion, social displacement, racial conflict, industrial hegemony and decline, every sort of relationship fissure.
Sometimes his genuis is almost eerie--read "Soldier's Home," and try to analyse how such basic words and sentences can weave such a poignant, aching emotional web. His work had an almost magical presence in those early years, before egotism and the media made him self-conscious.
Even if you are familiar with his more celebrated novels, read this collection and you will be overwhelmed by the beauty, power, and honesty of Hemingway at his best.
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By Patrick on February 7, 2004
Format: Paperback
In Our Time is a great collection of Ernest Hemingway's early short stories, which he wrote when he was at his peak as a writer. I love the way he uses simple descriptions and dialogue to narrate them, giving a more natural feel to the stories. You can see his tough writing style beginning to show already at this point of his career. Most parts will be confusing to the novice reader because Hemingway really wants you to infer what the stories are about - he will not go right out and tell you. There really is no single theme to this whole book, but it basically shows how life was back in the 1920's. Many of Hemingway's works were based on his own experiences in life, which is very interesting. "The Doctor and the Doctor's Wife" was based on the author's own father, who was, in Hemingway's mind, a coward. "Soldier's Home" is an excellent story of a distressed soldier coming home from The Great War. "A Very Short Story" was based on Hemingway's own romance with a nurse while he was overseas during the war. "Indian Camp" and "The Battler" are two of my favorites. It has been said that the character Nick Adams was really Hemingway, and when you read the Nick Adams stories along with a biography on Hemingway's life, it is easy to see why. Each story in this collection has a meaning unto itself, and I highly recommend that you read all of them.
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By A Customer on February 12, 2000
Format: Hardcover
These short pages contain simply (but less simply than some readers realize) some of the best short stories by an American writer in the entire twentieth century. Hemingway is certainly lauded enough by high-minded literary types, but it would be a mistake to assume that those are the only people that can enjoy him. It is tough to get a handle on what he is doing in this book, particularly because of the interchapers (which are NOT lead-ins to the stories following them, but a separate bit of impressionist writing of their own), but as in all great writing, the point is to make you ask yourself questions, not answer them for you. My personal favorite from this book (and maybe of any book by anybody) is "Soldier's Home" Hemingway's style, which is often criticized for being "too simple", thus ignorant, is to leave the most important details unsaid, letting the reader create most of the image in his or her mind. When in "Soldier's Home" Krebs' mother says "There can be no idle hands in God's Kingdom" Hemingway writes Krebs' reply as simply "I'm not in His kingdom." No description of his voice, no laying of scene, nothing but that pure powerful statement, which would have been ruined by a long dramatic monologue on the horrors of war. If you enter this book with an open mind, Hemingway won't disappoint. And you'll have plenty to argue about with your high-minded literary friends.
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Format: Paperback
"In Our Time," the first published work of fiction by Ernest Hemingway, reads like a sketchpad at times, notes toward a novel. In fact, the seeds for two of Hemingway's earliest novels, "The Sun Also Rises" and "A Farewell To Arms," can be found here, but "In Our Time" works better than either of those classics when it comes to showing why Hemingway mattered, and still does.

Hemingway is a writer prized for his economic writing style, and he doesn't get more economical than here. The stories in this collection sometimes run just two or three pages, and are broken up by even briefer story nuggets that read like brushwork haikus.

Included are three of Hemingway's most celebrated shorts, "Soldier's Home," "Indian Camp," and "Big Two-Hearted River," but while these and a couple of others ("The Battler" "My Old Man") are gripping enough read alone, they really come alive here in tandem with "In Our Time's" other stories and anecdotes. The mood of "In Our Time" seems more important than any message, and is certainly easier to discern.

First published in 1925, "In Our Time" expresses a world-weariness typical of the generation that came home from the First World War, "The War To End All Wars," to find their glorious dreams and beliefs shattered. Cynicism was a newer thing in Hemingway's time, and harder for his generation to digest. Presenting himself in slightly fictionalized form as one Nick Adams, Hemingway looks backward to moments of nausea in his youth, bitter breakups and parental failures, before dealing with how the war itself left him shattered. Sometimes the lens of the book moves to characters other than Nick, but it never leaves aside that spirit of disillusion and loss.
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