In Our Time was accepted with great critical acclaim upon its publication in 1924. Widely lauded and recognized as the work of a rising literary star, as Herschel Brickell said, “Mr. Hemingway’s book carries on its dust-covers the enthusiastic recommendations of nearly everybody,” and, “The men who praise In Our Time know good work when they see it.”
It was both a continuation of certain literary trends that had begun to develop themselves as well as something possessed of itself, original, striking, and new. The work of Sherwood Anderson and others had begun to shift literary perspective toward the more dirty and real, but as Louis Kronenberger wrote of the book in the Saturday Review of Literature, “It has sound merit of a personal, non-derivative nature; it shows no important affinity with any other writer, and it represents the achievement of unique personal experience.”
His style, from the overall presentation of the book to the ways in which he constructed phrases, thoughts, perspectives, were seen as fresh and interesting. The stories themselves were met with a kind of lingering uncertainty. “Of ‘stories’ in the commonly accepted sense of the word there are few,” Brickell wrote, “Most are psychological episodes, incidents, sketches.” Or as the New York Times Book Review put it, “Not so much short stories, as preludes to a mood.”
His style was described as “an attempt to get at minds and souls and what goes on within.” Also as “oblique, inferential, suggestive rather than overt, explicit, explanatory.” And yet somehow, “Mr. Hemingway can pack a whole character into a phrase, an entire situation into a sentence or two.”
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.... Ashley later mentions, “In Our Time is admittedly a slight and fragmentary enterprise. It is, however, a promise, almost an assurance of richer and more important things to come.” And perhaps Time said it best, “Make no mistake, Ernest Hemingway is somebody; a new, honest, un-‘literary’ transcriber of life—a writer.”
Herschel Brickell. “Tales Galore by Writers From Lands Far and Near.” New York Evening Post Literary Review, October 17, 1925, p. 3.
New York Times Book Review, October 18, 1925, p. 8.
Paul Rosenfeld. “Tough Earth.” New Republic, 45 (November 25, 1925), 22-23.
Schuyler Ashley. Kansas City Star, December 12, 1925, p. 6.
Time, 7 (January18, 1926), 38.
Louis Kronenberger. “A New Novelist.” Saturday Review of Literature, 2 (February 13, 1926), 555.