Jay Parini

No Fiesta

Hemingway’s Second War: Bearing Witness to the Spanish Civil War

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University of Iowa Press 264pp £25.95 order from our bookshop

Ernest Hemingway has generated a full-blown biographical industry. His immensely fresh style changed the look of fiction, turning a kind of poetic baby talk into literature. At its best, the work shimmers – I’m thinking of In Our Time (1925), his first collection of stories, which brought into public view half-a-dozen masterworks of American literature. A few of these, such as ‘Soldier’s Home’ and ‘Big Two-Hearted River’, dealt with the after-effects of war on young American veterans of the First World War. Hemingway had seen that war close-up, as an ambulance driver for the Red Cross (he was wounded in both legs by shrapnel and received the Italian Silver Medal of Bravery for his efforts).

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