Hemingway's Mixed Drinks: An Examination of the Varied Representation of Alcohol Across the Author's Canon

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Ashley Yarbrough Oliphant (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/
Scott Romine

Abstract: The purpose of this research was to determine how alcohol functions in four main texts: The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, The Old Man and the Sea and In Our Time. Because of Ernest Hemingway's self-perpetuated image - as a literary celebrity, scholars have historically used his public persona (and their diagnoses of his perceived alcoholism and other medical conditions) to speculate about its impact on his work. This study establishes the importance of first addressing the textual evidence relating to Hemingway's crafting of symbols, characters and plots before the biography of the author enters the critical conversation. The project defines and examines important terms relevant to Hemingway's representation of alcohol, including "saturated" and "dry" fiction, "situational dryness," "communal consumption" and "restorative drinking." When applicable, Hemingway's characters are viewed within the context of their Lost Generation existence to challenge the critical notion that the post-war experience for the author's characters (particularly those who consume alcohol) is static from text to text. Hemingway's drinkers are explored instead as individuals with varied impetuses for imbibing (whether in moderation or in excess), and his nondrinkers and occasional consumers are examined at length to provide a complete picture of the role of consumption across the four works. The data taken from these considerations leads to the conclusion that contrary to the critical consensus, Hemingway's depiction of alcohol sometimes reverses the dichotomous relationships it has long been believed to support. This project illuminates moments where consumption can function both positively and negatively for a character, as can abstinence from alcohol. In the end, the supposed glamorization of consumption in Hemingway's fiction is undercut, replaced instead with a dynamic view of alcohol's role in the lives of his characters.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2007
Hemingway, alcohol

Email this document to