The 1920s in Paris are the pivotal years in Hemingway's apprenticeship as a writer, whether sitting in cafés or at the feet of Gertrude Stein.
These are the heady times of the Nick Adams short stories, Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby
, and the writing of The Sun Also Rises
. These are also the years of Hemingway's first marriage to Hadley Richardson, the birth of his first son, and his discovery of the bullfights at Pamplona. 22 photographs
In the second of his series of five biographies of Ernest Hemingway, Michael Reynolds turns to the years that formed the writer's distinctive style and critical intelligence. He exhaustively chronicles the particular literary influences on Hemingway, oftentimes even recounting the reading lists that the writer received from particular individuals. "Reading The Wasteland with Ezra Pound at one's elbow is no bad way to pick up a thing or two," he dryly observes at one point. He also pays close attention to Hemingway's conversations with, and studying the literature of, Pound, James Joyce, and particularly Gertrude Stein, who later complained that for all of Hemingway's talent, "He looks like a modern and he smells of the museums." Reynolds's sympathy for his subject is so complete that at times his own stylistic voice becomes a sort of homage to Hemingway's--colloquial, declarative, and wry. At times, however, he too liberally assumes the inner thoughts of his subjects. The substantial research and period analysis he commands turn such repeated phrases as "he must have thought" or "it must have seemed to him" into an unnecessary striving for authority. At his best, though, Reynolds not only uses his extensive source material with a critical eye but provides a wealth of information about the social, political, and literary backgrounds of a time and place that were in many ways the dawn of the 20th century's intellectual tradition. --John Longenbaugh