AN ANDROGYNOUS HEMINGWAY. Christopher Hitchens had a review in the June Atlantic of a revised edition of Hemingway’s autobiographical A MOVEABLE FEAST. Hitchens highlighted one of the new sections in the revision: “the intriguing episode ‘Secret Pleasures,’ in which Hemingway writes with undisguised sexual excitement about the good and bad ‘hair days’ that he shared with his first spouse'” and says: “perhaps a man whose mother once dressed him as a girl and trimmed his crop to suit, and crooned to him as ‘Ernestine,’ had some old scores to settle in the androgyny column.” The new section that Hitchens describes confirms what I read over twenty years ago in a review in the New York Review of Books. That review changed my view of Hemingway. I had thought of Hemingway as a hypermasculine figure. The review (by Frederick C. Crews of HEMINGWAY, a biography by Kenneth S. Lynn) made me think of Hemingway’s writings as stories about the torment of an insecure man’s struggles to play a masculine role. Crews and Lynn focused on some of the same biographical details that Hitchens did, but they also relied on the posthumously published book by Hemingway, THE GARDEN OF EDEN. Crews wrote: “Ever since news of the Garden of Eden manuscripts began spreading a decade ago, it has been widely suspected that his secret theme was androgyny—and this has now become the leading motif of Lynn’s Hemingway.” Crews quoted Lynn’s description of Hemingway’s “packing troubled feelings below the surface…like dynamite beneath a bridge.” I can’t read Hemingway any more without seeing anxiety beneath the masculinity.

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