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Title: "The earth abideth forever" : Hemingway's vegetation myths.
Authors: Woon, Samuel.
Keywords: DRNTU::Humanities
Issue Date: 2013
Abstract: Ernest Hemingway’s first novel, The Sun Also Rises, has been often regarded as being about the expatriate lost generation in a post-war Europe because of a remark attributed to Gertrude Stein in the epigraph. However, Hemingway explains “The point of the book to me was that the earth abideth forever—having a great deal of fondness and admiration for the earth and not a hell of a lot for my generation” (Selected Letters 229). Hemingway would also dismiss Stein’s maxim, and said, “I thought that all generations were lost by something and always had been and always would be” (A Moveable Feast 30). Hemingway was widely noted for his use of myth in his novels, and in order to enhance the thematic aspects of The Sun Also Rises, I believe that he turned to the ancient Greek and Western Asian vegetation myths as a structuring feature and incorporated major aspects of the vegetation rites into novel. As Maurice Beebe would explain, “Modernist literature makes use of myth not in the way myth was used earlier, as a discipline for belief or subject for interpretation, but as an arbitrary means of ordering art” (175), suggesting that myths were routinely divorced from their original didactic purpose and imbued with a new authorial intention. The circularity of the fertility ritual and the vegetation myth’s emphasis of the fertility deity’s annual stint in the underworld parallel the emergence and demise of each new generation. In his portrayal of Jake Barnes and company, Hemingway showed one ‘lost generation’, a particular season, amongst the many that preceded and would eventually appear. In addition, Hemingway’s use of myth is perhaps symptomatic of his era. Linda Pratt explains, “the modern writer’s need for myth is acute in a society which lacks any cohesive belief or coherent design of its own” (307). Hemingway’s reworking of the fertility rituals, myths that date back to antiquity immemorial, suggests his belief that all recent generations are indeed lost by their own lack of a “cohesive belief or coherent design” (Pratt 307).
Rights: Nanyang Technological University
Fulltext Permission: restricted
Fulltext Availability: With Fulltext
Appears in Collections:HSS Student Reports (FYP/IA/PA/PI)

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