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The Uses of Authenticity: Hemingway and the Literary Field, 19261936

Timo Mller
University of Augsburg, Germany

Authenticity is a widespread but ambiguous notion in our collective imagination. Cut off from its essentialist roots by various schools of twentieth-century philosophy, it has come to be shaped, as a discursive construct, by popular culture rather than scholarly thought. This article examines selected works of Ernest Hemingway, who became one of the most influential creators and arbiters of authenticity in modern (popular) literature but who constantly subjected the concept to critical scrutiny in his fiction. This ambivalent attitude grew out of Hemingways interaction with the modernist literary field. Initially, posturing as an authentic writer served to distinguish him from the urban bohme. Later, as the posture became fashionable and threatened to lose its distinctive function, he questioned and refined it on a regular basis in his works, which thus allows us a glimpse at the collective imagination of authenticity in the making. Keywords: Ernest Hemingway / literary field / The Sun Also Rises / modernism/ authenticity

uthenticity has become a fashionable term over the last few decades, and like all fashionable terms, it has acquired many different meanings. The denotations of the Greek word authentes, master and murderer, are forgotten; instead we have an array of definitions from areas as diverse as idealist philosophy, existentialism, cultural studies, linguistics, psychology and even philology. The only aspect on which all these approaches might agree is that authenticity, despite its connotations of trueness and purity, is a constructa postulated standard of truth that we can at best approximate and that at worst turns out to be a mere chimera. Authenticity is thus a paradoxical concept, a construct to end all constructs, and the name is as intangible as the concept itself. There is no authoritative definition of authenticity; unlike other fashionable terms in current public or critical debate (postmodernism, gender, the clash of civilizations, etc.), even in the universities few people can come up with a name or a work that has brought the concept of authenticity to public attention. There is, however, a comprehensive study of this fragmented phenomenon, and it deserves attention in the context of this article both for the rich historical material it offers and because it points

The Uses of Authenticity: Hemingway and the Literary Field


the way to a study of authenticity as a construct and a performative act. Lionel Trillings Sincerity and Authenticity (1971) starts from the assumption that while both of the concepts that give his study its title imply trueness to ones self and a congruence between avowal and actual feeling (4), the underlying conception of selfhood varies significantly. Sincerity requires an essential, positive self to which one can be true, and it requires a shared set of values within whose parameters trueness can be validated and appreciated. Trilling sees these requirements fulfilled in Renaissance societyHamlet is the earliest example he gives of a sincere personand up to the early nineteenth century, when sincerity becomes a central concern of the Romantic movement and its epigones. They crumble, however, in the course of the nineteenth century as both the individual and society come to be regarded as problematic and alienated. Under these circumstances, Trilling argues, sincerity is replaced with authenticity as an ideal of personal conduct: now that individuals cannot believe unreservedly in their positive self anymore, they turn to their negative qualities, to what Yeats calls the foul rag-and-bone shop of the heart. Being true to oneself now means to admit and confront these negative qualitiesa new standard of trueness that cannot be judged by society anymore. In the strict sense, any attempt to validate authenticity by sharing it with others, let alone by deriving it from others, invariably makes it inauthentic. The notion of performance is central to Trillings study, mainly because it allows him to make a categorical distinction between sincerity and authenticity. In the daily enterprise of putting ourselves on the social stage, he says, sincerity plays a curiously compromised part: it tempts us to play the role of being ourselves, to sincerely act the part of the sincere person, with the result that a judgment may be passed upon our sincerity that it is not authentic (12). The suggestion here is that authenticity, as a concept, is categorically distinct from sincerity in that it eludes this quandary. It is possible to be sincere in acting ones sincerity, but it is impossible to be authentic in acting ones authenticity. By definition, the authentic person does not play any one role, let alone the role of the authentic person. This distinction recurs in Trillings discussion of the heroic principle, where the sincere hero of Aristotle and Shakespeare is described as an actor of his own heroicness, while the authentic modern hero is trapped in a dull, routine existence, but distinguishes himself by showing, almost despite himself, a deep spiritedness in the midst of all the dullness. Of course, authenticity is a discursive construct of the modernist period just as much as sincerity was a discursive construct of earlier periods. As Trilling is well aware, we are today looking back on the modernist period rather as the modernists looked back on Shakespeare and Aristotle. And, I would add, we tend to find that there were quite a few modernists who did play the role of the authentic person. They seem to have consciously drawn on the discursive heritage Trilling outlines in order to appropriate the concept of authenticity and all the advantageous implicationsthe social and cultural capitalit carries. And while we might find them inauthentic today, many of their contemporaries had no doubts at all concerning their authenticity. (The ups and downs writers


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like Wyndham Lewis and D. H. Lawrence have had in informed opinion can be explained in these terms, at least to some extent.) With regard to modernist literature, these observations open up a second level of inquiry. Not only does literature provide and negotiate cultural models of authenticityin fact, fictional texts make up almost all of Trillings source materialbut it also allows writers, on a metadiegetic level, to present themselves as authentic persons and to negotiate the mechanisms and limits of this self-enactment. Trilling does not address the metadiegetic level explicitly, but he sketches several areas in which it plays out. In aesthetics, for instance, he traces the emergence of the authentic as a concept at once oppositional and supplementary to the beautiful. For the Romantics and the German Idealists, he says, art is no longer required to please, it is expected to provide the spiritual substance of life, or in other words, to enact the authentic (91). Not only does art become more important, almost sacred, in this aesthetics, but the artist is empowered as well: in enacting the authentic, I would argue, both the work of art and the artist come to partake of it, and they assume a priestly vocation of having the audience partake of it as wellthis is what Trilling calls the pedagogic intention of much nineteenth-century art (77). In this enterprise, it seems to me, authenticity acquires a performative dimension from the very beginning, and the writer finds himself in the paradoxical position of creating and presenting something to his readers that can by definition never be consciously created or presented. The performative dimension, in turn, relates to another metadiegetic aspect Trilling addresses: the differential or relational quality of authenticity in the literary field. Starting from the existentialists fear of the inauthentic commonplace, the hell is other people of Sartres Huis clos, Trilling points out that the modern writer needs to distinguish himself from the commonplace in order to appear authentic to his peers. He cites Nathalie Sarrautes condemnation of Emma Bovary as an utterly inauthentic person to show how Flaubert, for the existentialists, becomes an authentic writer by depicting an inauthentic character and distancing himself from ita strategy Sartre and Sarraute pursued themselves. This observation, I would argue, points to a central aspect of the performance of authenticity in the literary field: if inauthenticity is everywhereand in the modernist view it isone can suddenly become authentic merely by being different. For an analysis of authenticity in the modernist literary field, Trillings study is doubly important: not only does it offer a discursive history of the notion of authenticity in all its varieties; it also provides starting points for an inquiry into the self-reflexive enactment of authenticity in and through the literary text. In this essay, I will take up this inquiry and examine how a particular set of literary texts has shaped and negotiated our collective imagination of authenticity. The texts I have in mind are those of Ernest Hemingway, the writer of nature, war and bullfighting, of simple men and their pursuits, of true place and people untouched by the corrupting influence of urban modernism. A celebrity in his day, Hemingway is still widely read; I once heard a statistic that his name has the highest recognition value of all writers worldwide. His influence on public discourse was and still

The Uses of Authenticity: Hemingway and the Literary Field


is considerable, and one of the aspects that have anchored his life and his fiction in our collective imagination is his search for an authentic life. His soldiers, fishers, boxers and backwoodsmen are among the archetypes of authenticity in modern literature.4 The special quality of Hemingways texts, I will argue, lies in their self-reflexive approach: not only does Hemingway present authentic characters and settings, he also uses his texts to present himself as authentic and, on a third level, to negotiate and, if necessary, adapt his self-presentation. This complex process also illustrates the specific role of literature in the cultural production and negotiation of authenticity. Literary texts have, at least potentially, a considerable impact on public discourse, which facilitates the performance of authenticity on the authors part. But at the same time, their complex, multi-voiced quality allows for a self-reflexive discussion of this very performance. Beneath the phenotypic continuities between Hemingways fiction and our collective imagination of authenticity, I would argue, there is a genotype, a structural analogy, between Hemingways specific approach to authenticity and the protean aspect the concept has acquired since. Both his biography and, more interestingly, his fiction indicate that Hemingway oscillated between an idealist and a constructivist concept of authenticity. He certainly thought of it as an ideal of behavior, as a yardstick for the right choices in social interaction; but he also thought of it as a posture. I use the term posture deliberately, with a view to recent literary sociology, where it denotes not just a pose that social actors adopt to create a certain impression of themselves but at the same time, and interrelatedly, a mode of behavior they acquire to underscore their aspiration to or tenure of a certain position in the literary field.5 It is at once paradoxical and ironic that one of the foremost proponents of authenticity in popular culture, Hemingway was among the first to make consistent use of its performative quality. As one of the last ideals that had survived into modernism, authenticity could confer upon the social actor a degree of authority (social capital) hardly available in other areas. It became a character trait many wanted to have, especially among the alienated intellectual avant-garde, which gave rise to the paradoxical idea of posturing as authentic. Hemingway was among these posturers, but he was more astute than most of them: his fictional negotiations of authenticity show him deeply sensitive to the pitfalls and the intricacies of the new posture, and at the same time eager to distinguish himself from the less convincing posturers. In the following, I will look at a number of texts from the years 19261936his formative phase as a writerto trace in detail this double strategy of analyzing the posture of authenticity in order to become a better posturer oneself.6 In The Sun Also Rises (1926), Hemingways early novel about the expatriate community, authenticity mainly manifests itself in the contrast between bohemian, inauthentic Paris and the healthier social and natural environment of the Spanish settings. The posture finds its most complex expression in bullfighting: in the bullfighters technique and attitude, the surrounding cult, and above all the inclusive concept of aficin. Jake Barnes has been initiated into the world of


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bullfighting by Montoya, the Pamplona hotelier, who is introduced as the ultimate arbiter of authenticity.
Aficion means passion. An aficionado is one who is passionate about the bull-fights. All the good bull-fighters stayed at Montoyas hotel; that is, those with aficion stayed there. The commercial bull-fighters stayed once, perhaps, and then did not come back. The good ones came each year. In Montoyas room were their photographs. The photographs were dedicated to Juanito Montoya or to his sister. The photographs of bull-fighters Montoya had really believed in were framed. Photographs of bullfighters who had been without aficion Montoya kept in a drawer of his desk. They often had the most flattering inscriptions. But they did not mean anything. One day Montoya took them all out and dropped them in the waste-basket. He did not want them around. We often talked about bulls and bull-fighters. I had stopped at the Montoya for several years. ... Men would come in from distant towns and before they left Pamplona stop and talk for a few minutes with Montoya about bulls. These men were aficionados. Those who were aficionados could always get rooms even when the hotel was full. (13536)

The hotel-keeper as benevolent demigod is a recurrent motif in Hemingway, and Montoya is its most impressive incarnation. Unassuming in stature, he is nevertheless the respected ruler of his realm, which comprises not only the hotel but the inner circle of bullfighters and bullfighting aficionados. He separates instinctively the good and the bad; the good he cares for, the bad he repudiates. His judgment is above human weakness and corruptibility, above mere reason and logic, and once made, it is final: Montoya could forgive anything of a bull-fighter who had aficion. He could forgive attacks of nerves, panic, bad unexplainable actions, all sorts of lapses. For one who had aficion he could forgive anything (13637). Jake feels honored to be accepted into Montoyas realm, whose values he adopts faithfully. His quasi-religious attitude toward the demigod is palpable not only in his unquestioning propagation of Montoyas beliefs, but also in the solemn, repetitive, chant-like style in which he recounts them. Having escaped, at least temporarily, from the superficial, irreverent social environment of his Paris acquaintances, Jake seeks security in a more traditional realm whose values and ideals are still intact. A few days later, he meets the most impressive representative of this realm, the bullfighter Romero, whom he also describes as a god-like figure. Unusually calm, wise, and handsome, Romero makes a deep impression on his torn, insecure, and impotent admirer. On their first meeting, Jake perceives the young man as a mystic, almost superhuman apparition:
The boy stood very straight and unsmiling in his bull-fighting clothes. ... His black hair shone under the electric light. ... Pedro Romero nodded, seeming very far away and dignified when we shook hands. ... Romero listened very seriously. Then he turned to me. He was the best-looking boy I have ever seen.

The Uses of Authenticity: Hemingway and the Literary Field

You go to the bull-fight, he said in English. You know English, I said, feeling like an idiot. No, he answered, and smiled. (16869)


Jake emphasizes the statuesque about Romero; he even equips him with a hint of a halo (the black hair shining under the light). The demigods very first pronouncement, made as it is in a broken, rather unimpressive English, reduces Jake to reverential shame. Usually, Jake reacts to surprising or unsettling statements by giving short, defensive answers that buy him time to recompose himself behind the faade of masculine grumbling he strives to uphold. This works even with Brett, as in the scene when she tells him she has been to San Sebastian with Cohn; it does not work with Romero, whose membership in the cult of aficin makes him more awe-inspiring in Jakes eyes than any of the Paris crowd could ever be. In Jakes narrative, Romero becomes the representative of several of its core values, all of which he seems to embody naturally, whereas Jake has to assume them in more or less convincing posturing. Beside authenticity, these values include masculinity and autonomy. When Jake leaves the room after their first encounter, he looks back at Romero standing, straight and handsome and altogether by himself, alone in the room with the hangers-on as we shut the door (169). The demigod appears alone and autonomous even with a group of hangers-on around him; this distinguishes him from Jake, who would like to assume this stance in the Paris group, but is much too involved to sustain it. The cult of aficin is bound up with its location: Spain, the land of bullfighting, communality, tradition and Catholic belief, is contrasted with Paris, the city of drinking, egocentricity, bohemianism and irresponsibility. Spain and the Spanish characters come across as authentic and believable, whereas the expatriate crowd that descend on Pamplona for the fiesta bring along their false, untrustworthy behavior. In Spain the categories are clear; in Paris they have come loose. The first part of the novel, which is set in Paris, introduces via its characters a panorama of inauthenticity. In an analysis based on premises similar to mine, David Morgan Zehr has argued that the characters response to the Paris experience serves as a yardstick to measure their authenticity, or rather their lack thereof. He interprets Jake Barness appreciation for Paris and Robert Cohns incapacity to enjoy Paris as the basic markers of authenticity and inauthenticity, respectively, and identifies three types of inauthentic expatriates: those who regard Paris as an amusing diversion (Prentiss, the Braddocks), those who avoid engaging with the foreign culture (Woolsey, Krum), and those who have succumbed to its temptations and are simmering in their own personal malaise (Stone) (Zehr 15863). Throughout the novel, authenticity is linked with literary merit, which transforms the abstract concept into a posture with concrete social implications in the literary field. An authentic writer works hard, lives truthfully and, in Michael Sotos words, cleaves to literary texts ... that get it right (12). Again it is Jake who fulfills these criteria: he has a regular job, works more than his friends both


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at the newspaper office and, presumably, on the novel he is writing; he preserves a mental distance to the false, bohemian world of the other expatriates, from whose hedonism he is excluded because of his impotence alone; and he reads Turgenev instead of Hudson and Mencken. Cohn is less authentic, and therefore the lesser writer: he hardly ever works; he adheres to ideals unconnected with the world he lives in and treats fake people seriously because of these idealsamazingly enough, his first impression of Brett is that she seems to be absolutely fine and straight (39); and his literary ideas, again in Sotos words, are derivative, arrived at secondhand via the washed-up criticism of Mencken or the quixotic travel narratives of Hudson (11). As an authentic writer, Jake takes the material at handhis friends and his travelsand makes a good book out of it, regardless of what others may say. Both the young writer and the literary field in which he has to succeed are discussed self-reflexively in The Sun Also Rises, and authenticity is identified as a strategy for success in the literary field: it is a posture in the sociological sense of the term. While in these scenes authenticity can be an indicator for personal or literary value, Hemingway is at the same time exploring the performative aspect of authenticity: he is not propagating it as a transcendent ideal but negotiating the uses to which it can be put in social fields. To begin with, the figure of Pedro Romero as demigod of authenticity is an invention of Hemingways. His reallife model, the young bullfighter Cayetano Ordez, had little in common with the serious, self-denying Romero of the novel; in fact, he was known as a lover of flamenco parties, money and manzanilla (Sarason 7980). Romeros authenticity is thus a fictional device that Hemingway used to illustrate and discuss the posture as such. It might have appealed to him that Ordez himself was a consciously inauthentic figure in that he performed under the well-sounding pseudonym, Nio de la Palma. For readers who had a background knowledge of contemporary bullfightingfor fellow aficionados, that isthis was a hint that Hemingway did not endorse the cult of aficin uncritically. However, while a hint aimed at fellow aficionados may be especially poignant here, there are several other passages in which the hint is there for all readers to catch. In his introductory explanation of aficin, for example, Jake says that [a]ll the good bull-fighters stayed at Montoyas hotel; that is, those with aficion stayed there (see longer quotation above). The qualification in the second part of the sentence suggests that in fact there are good bullfighters who stay at other hotels, and that there is a tendency on Montoyas part to judge these bullfighters as lacking in aficin simply because they do not stay with him (and do not accept his cult). The reversal of cause and effect reveals that aficin is not, after all, a quality one is born with, but rather a consecration the self-proclaimed bullfighting authorities confer upon those who conform to the rules. Staying at Montoyas hotel is one of the more obvious rules, but the suggestion is that all aspects of a bullfighters behavior should contribute to the performance of aficin. In confidential conversation with Jake, Romero names another of these rules: a bullfighter is not supposed to know English (French is acceptable, though). An illogical set of

The Uses of Authenticity: Hemingway and the Literary Field


rules is always an arbitrary one. This reinforces the notion that aficin is, after all, a social construct. Eventually, Montoyas own behavior becomes somewhat revealing: his initial suggestion that knowledge of bullfighting is a very special secret between Jake and himself, a rather shocking but really very deep secret that we knew about (135), is deprived of much of its suggestive lure when Montoya repudiates Jake from the circle of aficionados because he has introduced Romero to Brett. In pronouncing this sanction by means of his distant behavior, Montoya admits not only the possibility of his misjudging peoples aficin, but he also reveals the requirement that Romero conform to the unspoken set of rules and expectations on which the construct of aficin rests in the first place. The fact that Romero performs excellently after his first night with Brett seems to disprove Montoyas notions of purity. Good bullfighting is a matter of skill and hard work, not of cult and purity. Even in Spain, which Jake describes as a land almost of prelapsarian innocence, authenticity turns out to be a constructand this premise sets the tone for all of Hemingways fiction. Authenticity remains a preoccupying topic throughout Hemingways oeuvre. In The Sun Also Rises it is treated ambivalently: one the one hand, it is revealed to be a social construct; on the other hand, it is presented as a useful and partly reliable indicator of personal and literary value. This ambivalence is characteristic of Hemingways subsequent approaches to the concept of authenticity, and it is nowhere discussed more rigorously than in his most famous story, The Snows of Kilimanjaro. Written in 1936, ten years after the publication of The Sun Also Rises, the story is marked by many of the same concerns as the earlier novel. Again the protagonist is a writer, a solitary explorer of ever new countries and adventures. This time, however, he is explicitly introduced as a writer; we know his profession long before we even know his name. The focus has shifted: Hemingway has established himself as a well-known and respected writer, and his task now is to analyze the postures that have won him this position with a view to their continued effectiveness and stability. The protagonist of The Snows of Kilimanjaro contrasts starkly with the protagonist of most of Hemingways previous stories. Unlike young Nick Adams, who experiences life as a series of challenges and initiations, Harry has seen much and expects little of life. He has few aspirations and is physically confined to a cot in the African wilderness. While he is awaiting certain death, his thoughts revolve around past experiences he has so far suppressed. The central theme of these flashbacks, which are interspersed with the frame narrative, is the problematic ideal of doing the right thing. The first flashback stages various scenes from Harrys life when someone didnt do the right thing: Nansen sending young expeditioners into certain death because he lives off a reputation he does not merit anymore; Austrian gendarmes tracking down a deserter during the war; Lent, the ski-school owner, gambling away everything he has; Barker, the British officer, cowardly gunning down Austrian soldiers on their way home for Christmas. We learn that Harry was present in all these scenes, and that he always aligns himself with those who did the right


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thing: he is critical of Nansen, detains the Austrian gendarmes, gambles without risking too much, and forms a part of the silent majority hostile toward Barker. The value that shines through these scenes is the value of authenticity: had Nansen still had the capabilities he was famous for, he would not have sent people into death; had the soldiers not lost touch with the other side, not been swept away in the nationalist antagonism of the war, they would have treated their enemies more honorably and less ruthlessly. At this early point in the story, Harry draws up a panorama of conceptions of authenticity and inauthenticity, all of them grounded in practical, real-life experience, and all of them testifying that he is on the side of the good, the authentic people. This positive self-image is questioned when Harrys thoughts focus on his career as a writer. We gather that his career has been marked by an ever-growing discrepancy between his ideal of writing things well and his tendency to squander his talent for quick material success. He had destroyed his talent by not using it, by betrayals of himself and what he believed in, by drinking so much that he blunted the edge of his perceptions, by laziness, by sloth, and by snobbery, by pride and by prejudice, by hook and by crook (45). As so often, he drifts into self-irony at the end of this rant, and the sarcastic evocation of popular taste, of language forced into quaint alliterations and rhymes to please the masses, gives a first indication that authenticity is here presented as a concept relevant not only in real life but in writing as well. Implicitly, Harry contrasts his present state of decline with an ideal old life, apparently that of the first flashback, which he has traded away ... for security, for comfort ... and for what else? (46). What is here conceived in rather stereotypical waysthe honest young man ruined by money, women, and successacquires a sharper edge in the next flashback, when Harry returns to Paris from a devastating war experience and sees two writers discuss remote theories of art:
And there in the caf as he passed was that American poet with a pile of saucers in front of him and a stupid look on his potato face talking about the Dada movement with a Roumanian who said his name was Tristan Tzara, who always wore a monocle and had a headache[.] (49)

In this scene, Harry casts himself as the authentic writer in a literary field dominated by inauthenticity. And there is at least an implicit suggestion that he has since been corrupted by the inauthenticity of the Paris avant-garde, by mingling with theorizers like Tzara and with materialists like the luxurious potato-faced poet. In his non-fiction novel Green Hills of Africa, published a year before The Snows of Kilimanjaro, Hemingway has his autobiographical protagonist explain how the process of corruption works. First, a talented young writer happens to make money. (It is only by hazard that a writer makes money, Hem7comments, although good books always make money eventually.) The critics begin to pay attention to his work and praise his more successful books inordinately. The writer is drawn into fashionable areas of the literary field and begins to feel the pressure

The Uses of Authenticity: Hemingway and the Literary Field


of maintaining his standard, both economically and professionally. He begins to publish books even though he has nothing to say, just to keep up his standard of living. The critics react by condemning him for falling behind his earlier, more promising work. Since the writer has believed their praise, he must now believe the blame and lose confidence. He finds himself trapped in a vicious circle, and the only way out, Hem implies, is to establish a distance from the literary field. However, this requires great sacrifices, since the writers social environment has come to depend on his fame and money. The cardinal sin committed by any writer in this process of corruption is to write when there is nothing to say or no water in the well (16) that is, to write about inauthentic things or in an inauthentic manner. This seems to be the development Harry has gone through in The Snows of Kilimanjaro. In a revealing train of thought he tries to persuade himself that he has just followed his natural predispositions:
We must all be cut out for what we do, he thought. However you make your living is where your talent lies. He had sold vitality, in one form or another, all his life and when your affections are not too involved you give much better value for the money. He had found that out but he would never write that, now, either. (45)

Given the explanation Hemingway offers in Green Hills of Africa, however, Harrys turn toward inauthentic but popular writing is anything but natural and inevitable; on the contrary, it is the result of a combination of social forces he has been too weak to resist. Harry confuses cause and effect in his euphemistic assessment of his career. He hasnt become an inauthentic writer because of a lack of talent, but because he wanted to maintain his high income and therefore lowered his artistic standards to publish more and sell better. But how exactly does Hemingway define a writers artistic standards? Again, his autobiographical representative in Green Hills of Africa offers some clues. Questioned about his literary tastes by Kandisky, a nosy Austrian he has met on safari, Hem says, We have had writers of rhetoric who had the good fortune to find a little ... of how things, actual things, can be, whales for instance, and this knowledge is wrapped in the rhetoric like plums in a pudding. Occasionally it is there, alone, unwrapped in pudding, and it is good. This is Melville. But the people who praise it, praise it for the rhetoric which is not important (14). At first glance, the plum/pudding metaphor seems to refer to the levels of content and form. This would feed into the popular view of Hemingway as a primitive journalist-writer who insists on referential truth and prefers simple, direct language to complex strategies of fictionalization and embellishment. Critical readers of Hemingway have long shown, however, that his work is much more complex than it looks, that his simple language is carefully constructed, and that his realistic plots have an intricate deep structure. It is reasonable to assume, therefore, that the plum/pudding metaphor reaches deeper than this easy surface correspondence. In my reading the pudding, or rhetoric, stands for the element that provides an unimportant, false, and even detrimental pleasure but makes the product more interesting for most consumers, while the plum stands for the


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nourishing kernel that will only be appreciated by those who have a sense for the important, beneficial things in life and are not detracted by false pleasure. Thus, one way of translating the plum/pudding metaphor is as authentic/inauthentic, which makes it a contribution to the posture of authenticity Hemingway was still developing and negotiating at the time. The general import of the plum/pudding metaphor is underscored and accentuated later in the same conversation, when Hem translates his views into another metaphor. About the writers of the American Renaissance, he says, They were all very respectable. They did not use the words that people always have used in speech, the words that survive in language. Nor would you gather that they had bodies. They had minds, yes. Nice, dry, clean minds (14). The body/mind metaphor, which is used to a similar purpose in the earlier Mr. and Mrs. Elliot (1925) complements and in many ways re-enforces the plum/pudding metaphor. Both are informed by the notion of authenticity as a central component of writing, as the real thing that goes deeper than mere pleasure, but at the same time remains inaccessible to rational thought. The second metaphor emphasizes the contribution of the body, of sensuality, to the aim of authentic writing. It counterbalances the mystic, essentialist suggestions of the plum image and calls on writers to admit the visceral into literature by using unpretentious everyday language. The nice, dry, clean, and intellectual language of the classics must be complemented with the nasty, humid, dirty, altogether physical language that will always be understood and appreciated. On the whole, these images define authentic writing in a rather complex way. Evidently, Hemingway is careful to include all sides and to avoid reducing his poetics to either the intellectual or the sensual, either the essentialist or the constructivist aspect. In The Snows of Kilimanjaro, the scene Harry watches through the window of the Paris caf illustrates two extreme positions: the headache-prone dadaist is overly refined and theoretical, and his monocle keeps him from seeing both sides of the picture. The gluttonous potatofaced American has ingested the bodily aspect of reality but the stupid look on his face betrays his lack of linguistic resources to fully understand and describe it. Even though Harry has just returned from the ultimate authentic experience, the war, he does not manage to convert his experience into authentic writing. He falls prone to the temptations of a literary field that favors aloof theorizing over actual experience. The infection that is slowly killing Harry on the slopes of Kilimanjaro stands, of course, for his slow decay as a writer. He did not heed the wound when it was only a scratch, did not use proper medication in time, and is now facing an untimely death he could easily have avoided. In another of his reflected, convincing postures, Hemingway is symbolically killing off his inauthentic self. This metafictional twist is no mere theatricality. In fact, Hemingway suggests throughout the story that he is superior to his fictional self. In the third flashback, Harry re-experiences a series of dense atmospheric impressions from his childhood and youth that he should have written about but hasnt. He considers dictating them to Helen, his partner, but concludes that his limited power over language would permit him only to record the less intense of these impressions.

The Uses of Authenticity: Hemingway and the Literary Field


The impressions of post-war Paris, which are dearest to him and which make up most of the flashback, would elude his attempts to express them in language:
You could dictate that [i.e. the less intense impressions], but you could not dictate the Place Contrescarpe where the flower sellers dyed their flowers in the street and the dye ran over the paving where the autobus started and the old men and the women, always drunk on wine and bad marc; and the children with their noses running in the cold; the smell of dirty sweat and poverty and drunkenness at the Caf des Amateurs and the whores at the Bal Musette they lived above. (51)

Following his fictional self s admission that he is unable to capture these scenes, Hemingway delivers a vivid, dense, brilliant description of thema description that goes on for two pages and establishes in a powerful manner the difference between Harrys corrupted and Hemingways authentic writing. Apart from this practical demonstration, I would argue that Hemingway also theorizes his claim to superiority by paralleling his relation with the reading public and Harrys relation with women. Early on in the story, Harry claims that his success with women really started when he discovered that his lies were more successful with women than when he had told them the truth (44). Later on, he reflects about Helen that it was strange that when he did not love her at all and was lying, that he should be able to give her more for her money than when he had really loved (45). While the general trend of these reflections is negative, highlighting Harrys lack of personality and commitment, they are also open to an allegorical reading. If we take Harrys women to stand for Hemingways readers, the story offers a suggestion of what writing well could mean. If the reading public, like Harrys women, is basically fickle and ungrateful, if it doesnt appreciate authentic writing, then writers have to resort to inauthentic writing to sell their books and become famous. Harry is an example of this type of writer. Writing well is secondary for him, a vaguely desirable achievement postponed to old age; his primary motivations are fame and money. To please the masses, he has presumably resorted to ornamentation and embellishment, to hook and crook, to all the stylistic strategies Hemingway rejects as false. And it is the implicit comparison that highlights Hemingways (posture of) mastery: while lesser writers have to resort to inauthentic descriptions of authentic experience, he, and only he, has the power of authentic description that the public will appreciate no matter how inauthentic his subject matter. And inauthentic subject matter abounds in the story, from the improbable leopards carcass of the epigraph to Harrys feverish fantasies, from his career and corruption to his final ascent to the summit of Kilimanjaro. It is in this final journey that Hemingways demonstration of writing authentically about inauthentic experience finds its brilliant and ironic culmination: captivated in a dazzlingly realistic language, the most authentically described experience in the story isnt real. The two aspects of authenticity in Hemingways oeuvre, as an indicator of personal and/or literary value and as a posture in the literary field, blend in this scene as he is showcasing his mastery of both.


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The fiction of the first decade of his writing career shows Hemingway an astute observer of the mechanisms underlying the literary field of his time. Beside authenticity, he discusses and develops a number of other postures in a similar manner, among them masculinity, independence and experience. All of these he recognizes as constructs, but at the same time acts them out so convincingly that they fortify his position in the field, and his popularity beyond. This double strategy is of course a walk on the tightrope, and in the later stages of his career, Hemingway was sometimes close to falling. In particular, the resounding failure of Across the River and into the Trees (1950) was caused largely by his disregard for the performative aspect of his protagonists postures. Colonel Cantwell comes across as a pathetic poser because he takes himself too seriously. Hemingway makes the same mistake because he unreservedly identifies with the Colonel instead of analyzing his protagonists shortcomings and drawing his own conclusions, as he does in the texts I have discussed here. It is to Hemingways credit, however, that after the failure of Across the River he regained this self-reflexive attitude, and the great public and critical success of his subsequent works, in particular The Old Man and the Sea (1952) and A Moveable Feast (published posthumously) is attributable to this development. It was his sensitivity to the literary field and its mechanisms that made Hemingway one of the most popular writers of the century and that explains the degree to which our collective imagination of authenticity is still predicated on his works and on the tradition they created. Notes
1. See Lawrence for romanticism; Bell for existentialism; Griffiths for cultural studies; van Leeuwen for linguistics; Goldman and Kernis for psychology; and Barber for philology. 2. In twentieth-century philosophy, the best-known discussions of authenticity are probably Heideggers and Adornos, neither of which, however, speaks of Authentizitt in the German original. Instead, they use the more traditional but somewhat differently connoted Eigentlichkeit. 3. This is a point Charles Taylor stresses. While authenticity is generally defined as being true to ones inner voice, Taylor says, the inner voice is accessible only as distinct from the outer voice. It can be heard only when there is a social environment from whose demands one can then break free in order to assert ones trueness to oneself. 4. Miles Orvell goes so far as to posit authenticity as the central, distinctive category of modernist aesthetics. He opposes it to the nineteenth-century culture of imitation and conceptualizes modernism as an effort to get beyond mere imitation, beyond the manufacturing of illusions, to the creation of more authentic works there were themselves real things (xv). If so, Hemingway was certainly one of the most influential proponents of this culture, as he was one of the few avantgarde modernists whose stylistic experiments were available to a mass audience. On the nexus of authenticity, modernist identity and commodification, see Balkun. For another approach similar to mine in its focus on the textual deployment of authenticity, see Handley and Lewis. 5. The latter meaning of the term derives from the Bourdieu school of criticism. Drawing on Pierre Bourdieus conception of the literary field as a network of positions that the social actors occupy, aspire to, or create, Alain Viala introduces the complementary concept of posture, which he defines as the manner of occupying a position (Molini and Viala 216, my trans.). Posturing thus acquires

The Uses of Authenticity: Hemingway and the Literary Field


an instrumental significance for a writers career and public image, and it has repercussions for his literary and stylistic choices. 6. Hilary Justice points out that Hemingway himself used the term authentic as a category for some of his short fiction. For Hemingway, she says, the term implies a greater degree of distance from his material (77). Drawing mainly on the non-fiction, Charles Harmon argues that Hemingway thought of authenticity as an absolute ideal, both for his writing and his personal life. As my subsequent analysis will show, however, Harmons assumption that Hemingway was unaware of the performative aspect of authenticity grates with many passages in the fictional works. 7. The characters of Green Hills of Africa all go by the names of their real-life counterparts. To avoid confusion I will call the protagonist by his nickname, Hem, reserving Hemingway for the author.

Works Cited
Balkun, Mary McAleer. The American Counterfeit: Authenticity and Identity in American Literature and Culture. Tuscaloosa: U of Alabama P, 2006. Print. Barber, Joseph A. A Critical Approach to Questions of Authenticity. Neophilologus 71.3 (1987): 32134. Print. Bell, Linda A. Alienation and Individual Authenticity. Sartres Ethics of Authenticity, Tuscaloosa: U of Alabama P, 1989, 73103. Print. Goldman, Brian Middleton, and Michael H. Kernis. The Role of Authenticity in Healthy Psychological Functioning and Subjective Well-Being. Annals of the American Psychotherapy Association 5.6 (2002): 1820. Print. Griffiths, Gareth. The Myth of Authenticity: Representation, Discourse and Social Practice. Describing Empire: Post-Colonialism and Textuality. Eds. Chris Tiffin and Alan Lawson. London: Routledge, 1994. 7085. Print. Handley, William R., and Nathaniel Lewis, eds. True West: Authenticity and the American West. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 2004. Print. Harmon, Charles. The Normalization of Authenticity: Marshall Field, Emily Post, and the Memoirs of Ernest Hemingway. Mosaic 30.4 (1997): 5777. Print. Hemingway, Ernest. Green Hills of Africa. London: Vintage, 2004. Print. . The Snows of Kilimanjaro. The Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway. New York: Scribner, 1966. 3956. Print. . The Sun Also Rises. New York: Scribner, 1926. Print. Justice, Hilary. Degrees of Distance: The Authentic and the Personal in Hemingways Honeymoon Fiction. North Dakota Quarterly 66.2 (1999): 7784. Print. Lawrence, Joseph P. Philosophical Religion and the Quest for Authenticity, Schelling Now: Contemporary Readings. Ed. Jason M. Wirth. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 2005.1330. Print. Molini, Georges, and Alain Viala. Approches de la rception: Smiostylistique et sociopotique de Le Clzio. Paris: PUF, 1993. Print. Orvell, Miles. The Real Thing: Imitation and Authenticity in American Culture, 18801940. Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina P, 1989. Print. Sarason, Bertram D. Hemingway and The Sun Set. Washington, DC: National Cash Register Co, 1972. Print.


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Soto, Michael. Hemingway Among the Bohemians: A Generational Reading of The Sun Also Rises. Hemingway Review 21.1 (2001): 521. Print. Taylor, Charles. The Ethics of Authenticity. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1991. Print. Trilling, Lionel. Sincerity and Authenticity. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1974. Print. van Leeuwen, Theo. What is Authenticity? Discourse Studies 3.4 (2001): 39297. Print. Zehr, David Morgan. Paris and the Expatriate Mystique: Hemingways The Sun Also Rises. Arizona Quarterly 33 (1977): 15664. Print.


Journal of Modern Literature Volume 33, Number 1

AshleY Kunsa (akunsa@mix.wvu.edu) is currently pursuing a PhD in English at West Virginia University. In 2009, she received an MFA in fiction from Penn State University, where her thesis was a book of short stories set in Pittsburgh. Her research focuses primarily on language and technique in contemporary American fiction and on uses of regional idioms in literary and non-literary texts. JESSICA LANG (Jessica.Lang@baruch.cuny.edu) is assistant professor of English at Baruch College, City University of New York. She specializes in Jewish American literature, early American fiction, and womens fiction. DEBORAH McLEOD (debbiemcl@gmail.com) is a doctoral candidate in English literature at the University of South Florida, Tampa. She published a book review in CEA Forum (2007), and has presented papers at the Florida College English Association conferences, International Hemingway Conference, Norman Mailer Society Conference, and the National College English Association Conference. McLeod has served as the sirector of USFs Writing Center in addition to teaching at both USF and Florida Southern College. Her primary areas of study include disability studies, modernism, and Victorian literature. ERIC PAUL MELJAC (e.p.meljac@iup.edu) is a doctoral candidate in literature and criticism at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where he serves as a graduate assistant to Professor Mike Sell. He recently participated in the 32nd session of The School of Criticism and Theory at Cornell University. Meljacs work focuses on aesthetic issues in modern literature. Educated in Denmark and the US (English PhD, Johns Hopkins), PETER MORTENSEN (engpm@hum.au.dk) is associate professor of English at Aarhus University, Denmark, where he teaches modern literature. He is author of British Romanticism and Continental Influences (Palgrave 2004), as well as numerous articles and essays. His work on Hamsun is related to a book-length work-inprogress tentatively entitled Transatlantic Countercultures of Modernity, in which he analyzes the relationship between literary/aesthetic modernism and certain emergent alternative discourses of the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries in Europe and North America. TIMO MLLER (timo.mueller@phil.uni-augsburg.de) is an assistant professor of English at the University of Augsburg, Germany. His main research interests are modernism and literary theory. He has published articles on Joyce, Faulkner, and ecocriticism. His first book, The Self as Object in Modernist Fiction: James, Joyce, Hemingway, is forthcoming. LUCAS WOOD (lucasw@sas.upenn.edu) is a PhD candidate in comparative literature at the University of Pennsylvania, where he maintains a double engagement with medieval French vernacular literature and twentieth-century theory.

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