Cover image for Hemingway's quarrel with androgyny
Hemingway's quarrel with androgyny
Spilka, Mark.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Lincoln : University of Nebraska Press, [1990]

Physical Description:
xiii, 383 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Reading Level:
1550 Lexile.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3515.E37 Z873 1990 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Hemingway's Quarrel with Androgyny confronts the entrenched mystique surrounding the hard drinker, bullfighter, and creator of characters steeled by their own code. Spilka stresses Hemingway's lifelong dependence on and secret identification with women, and in doing so shatters the myths of male bonding and heroic lives of "men without women." He develops the biographical, literary, and cultural implications of Hemingway's lifelong quarrel with androgyny to reveal a more psychologically complex man and writer than the mystique has allowed.

Author Notes

Mark Spilka, a professor of English and comparative literature at Brown University, is the author of Dickens and Kafka: A Mutual Interpretation .

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

It was inevitable that the posthumous publication of The Garden of Eden ( LJ 6/1/86) would spark new theories on Hemingway's personality. Spilka's psychological portrait follows a course similar to Kenneth Lynn's Hemingway ( LJ 7/87), who hypothesized that Ernest was subconsciously androgynous because his mother dressed him like a girl until he was two or three years old. Lynn tried to back up his argument with references to Hemingway's fiction and life, but very few swallowed it, and many even laughed. This volume appears to be a much more in-depth treatment of the issue but still requires the reader to suspend a lot of disbelief. Only for the truly broadminded.-- Michael Rogers, ``Library Journal'' (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Two thirds of this study, which is a mistitled potpourri, pedantically traces Hemingway's thematic and biographical indebtedness to a handful of 19th-century British writers and works: Dinah Craik's John Halifax, Gentleman; Frances Hodgson Burnett's Little Lord Fauntleroy; Bronte's Wuthering Heights; and, especially, the fiction of Captain Marryat and Kipling. While occasionally noteworthy--as in the relevance of Halifax to the domestic ideals of Hemingway's parents and of Marryat to parallel Hemingway themes--the significance of the indebtedness is more often labored, tenuous, or merely curious. More important, on androgyny Spilka is confusing. His subject is Hemingway's conflicted sexual identity. But under the talismanic polysyllable of androgyny he gathers everything from coitus with the male supine to exchanged sexual roles, turning an important term into an overused, gratuituous, and equivocating adjective. Most important, Spilka's perfunctory discussions of Hemingway's major fiction, not only fail to argue cogently androgyny's relevance to a revision in how to read Hemingway but also neglect recent critical work on Hemingway. The lengthly chapter on Garden of Eden, however, is a fine study of the textual richness of the manuscript and of Hemingway's continuous literary experimentation. Good index. -G. Brenner, University of Montana

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. xi
Introduction Hemingway's Secret Musesp. 1
Part 1 Victorian Keys to the Early Hemingwayp. 15
Chapter 1 John Halifax, Gentlemanp. 17
Chapter 2 Fauntleroy and Finnp. 43
Chapter 3 Captain Marryatp. 65
Chapter 4 The Kipling Impressp. 91
Chapter 5 Wuthering Heightsp. 125
Chapter 6 John Masefieldp. 157
Part 2 The Return of the Repressedp. 175
Chapter 7 Three Little Savagesp. 177
Chapter 8 Three Wounded Warriorsp. 197
Chapter 9 Tough Mamas and Safari Wivesp. 223
Chapter 10 Daughters and Sonsp. 249
Chapter 11 Papa's Barbershop Quintetp. 279
Appendix A A Source for the Macomber "Accident": Marryat's Percival Keenep. 315
Appendix B A Retrospective Epilogue: on the Importance of Being Androgynousp. 327
Notesp. 337
Works Citedp. 361
Indexp. 369