Within a span of five years, Ernest Hemingway published two unique novels, Winners Take Nothing, and Men Without Women. Instead of following the customary novel structure, Hemingway incorporated many short stories into a book. Several short stories included were already published in various literature mediums, and quite successful. Fourteen stories composed Men Without Women, and ten poems with three stories formed Winners Take Nothing. Hemingway intended to use these books to establish his place and identity in American history, the one of a super-male writer.
Charles Scriber's Sons published 20,300 copies of Winners Take Nothing on October 27, 1933. (Oliver 355). They sold for two dollars each. (Oliver 355). This book met public outrage, as people became offended by Hemingway's choice of subjects. Hemingway covered topics such as homosexuality, insanity, suicide, nihilism, and veneral disease (Wagner-Martin 32). To understand the public's negative perspectives, attitudes and emotions on Winner Take Nothing, we must examine the historical context of Hemingway's time. America was in midst of the Great Depression. Many people were in direst situations, and barely clinging onto hope for better fortunes. Naturally, they wanted sources of hope, and Hemingway's book certainly does not offer hope or a sense of exit (Wagner-Martin 33). Additionally, Hemingway in Winners Take Nothing boldly tackles delicate moral issues that America regarded sensitively during that time period. As Michael Reynolds adeptly puts it, Winner Take Nothing was "abrasive to the prevailing American moral view of itself." (Wagner-Martin 32).
Because Hemingway failed to write a boo...
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...is life." (Pearsall 115). Oddly enough, Hemingway regarded negative reviews as an assault on his reputation, and as a ploy intended to ruin his career as a writer.
However, the negative reviews did nothing to impair Hemingway's place in history as a great writer. Hemingway still has a large following in modern society despite being dead for over forty years. His innovative ability with prose has people exclaiming about Hemingway as one of the greatest prose stylists ever. Winners Take Nothing and Men Without Women played a large role in that reputation.
Oliver, Charles M. Ernest Hemingway A to Z. New York: Checkmark Books, 1999.
Pearsall, Robert Brainard. The Life and Writings of Ernest Hemingway. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1973.
Wagner-Martin, Linda. Ed. A Historical Guide to Ernest Hemingway. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.
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