The Torrents of Spring – Ernest Hemingway

I recently visited my local second hand bookshop (Kim’s Bookshop, Chichester) and found a selection of books I wanted to read in excellent (basically brand new) condition for very reasonable prices. This Hemingway novella is one of those. I had a vague recollection that this existed but clearly isn’t as famous as other works, it was in fact one of Hemingway’s first works to be published, and many believe it was written to fulfil a contractual obligation.

ernest-hemingway---mini-biographyThe plot is not the strongest part of this novella, although is interesting. The Torrents of Spring is split into 4 parts, each with an epigraph from the writing of Henry Fielding, yet another allusion to other writers. Each part of the novella tells the contrasting, but intertwined, lives of Yogi Johnson and Scripps O’Neil, two factory workers in northern Michigan, both searching for the ideal woman.  Scripps’ wife has left him one year previous, now he pursues first an older English woman, then goes after his new wife’s younger colleague. Meanwhile, Yogi, is losing his interest in women. He wanders the environs of the town, meets some Native Americans, goes to their club and eventually meets a Native American women.

The main aspect of this novella is the satire, the plot is merely the vehicle for Hemingway’s critique of other authors. Throughout the novel, Hemingway parodies Sherwood Anderson, especially his work Dark Laughter which was published the year before. With notes to the reader throughout the novella Hemingway alludes to works by Sherwood Anderson, John dos Passos and F Scott Fitzgerald, each of whom was active at the time of writing, even the title was chosen due to Turgenev’s own The Torrents of Spring. Although not necessarily a must read piece of writing this is worth having a look at if you like Hemingway, and it is fairly short so would only take a couple of hours to read.

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