France was a long way off.

In a reading group I’m in, which may have two or four members, we are beginning Hemingway’s novels. His first, Torrents of Spring, is a parody of Sherwood Anderson’s Dark Laughter and, what I would call, High Modernists like James Joyce.

Not having read Anderson’s novel, I’m not qualified to comment on the parody itself. Parodies are usually funny, but I think humor is difficult to sustain over time, by this I mean that what is funny in one year may be irrelevant and not humorous the next. And I’m unaware of any other Papa tomes devoted to comedy or parody (I don’t think he was good at it or poetry), but I’ve read some extremely funny letters that Hemingway wrote to friends and foes alike.

Torrents of Spring can be funny and oddly foretells of certain stylistic elements that are later proudly displayed in Beckett’s prose and in the ironical and intruding author notes of the last 15 years or so. Anyway, here’s my favorite passage (pgs.13-14). The narrator is at a train station and a carload of frozen deer has stopped near him :

“He looked over at the deer lying there in a pile, stiff and cold. Perhaps they, too, had been lovers. Some were bucks and some were does. The bucks had horns. That was how you could tell. With cats it is more difficult. In France they geld the cats and do not geld the horses. France was a long way off.” 

Hemingway was obviously a fan of the stream of consciousness technique.

Next is The Sun Also Rises.

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