S-Space College of Humanities (인문대학) Institute of Humanities (인문학연구원) Journal of humanities (인문논총) Journal of Humanities vol.49 (2003) (인문논총)
헤밍웨이 인물들의위험한 선택
Existential Agony in Hemimgways Novels
- Issue Date
- 서울대학교 인문대학 인문학연구원
- 인문논총, Vol.49, pp. 187-230
- Hemingways life and work has often been interpreted as a typical
expression of American tradition of escapism. This interpretation would not
be wrong; on the contrary, it enlightens his reader on the complex cultural
background of his death-oriented plot. His protagonists, without exception,
try to escape from everyday reality of culture by indulging in outdoor
activities such as fishing, participating in war, watching bullfighting, safari
hunting, etc. Indeed, they have no effective relationships with cultured
sorts, struggling to discover themselves in the more primitive dimension.
Hemingways best works including The Sun Also Rises, Farewell to Arms, For
Whom the Bell Tolls, and The Old Man and the Sea are all among the finest
and most outspoken pieces of that variety in American Literature.
Another trend of interpretation focuses on the pshychic state of
Hemingway heroes. The psychic trauma inflicted by the World War I, which
was not a play but an unknowable violence itself, was conjured and relived
in Hemingways novels over and over again. It is possible that Hemingway
can be envisaged as a psychiatrist who diagnoses his own mental and
emotional disorders incurred by the war and project them into his works.
His characters are, in one aspect, all war patients in Freudian sense, who
have sufferred a severe wound, obeying the so-called repetition
compulsion, and dreaming a masochistic dream. It can be told that as a
means of adjusting to the neurosis, Hemingways heroes repeat the
experience of death and violence endlessly.
However, the thematic circle of these two interpretations can be enlarged
when they are projected to the more universal current of 20th-century
Western thought — existentialism — whose appeal lay mainly in its ability
to reflect the experience of violence, atrocity, and alienation brewed in the
20th-century European civilization. In the post-World War I years, it began
to grip the imagination of many thinkers, writers, and artists; and
Hemingway belonged to the crew of the lost generation.
Like other existentialist writers, Hemingway speculates in his works about
the nature of reality, subordinating traditional metaphysical questions to an
anthropocentric perspective, in which there takes place a tragic
confrontation between man and the world. Especially like Camus, he
regards human existence as unexplainable and the world man inhabits as
hostile and indifferent, and stresses freedom of choice and responsibility for
the consequences of ones acts.