Wharton, Hemingway, and the Advent of Modernism is the first book to examine the connections linking two major American writers of the twentieth century, Edith Wharton and Ernest Hemingway. In twelve critical essays, accompanied by a foreword from Wharton scholar Laura Rattray and a critical introduction by volume editor Lisa Tyler, contributors reveal the writers’ overlapping contexts, interests, and aesthetic techniques.
Thematic sections highlight modernist trends found in each author’s works. To begin, Peter Hays and Ellen Andrews Knodt argue for reading Wharton as a modernist writer, noting how her works feature characteristics that critics customarily credit to a younger generation of writers, including Hemingway. Since Wharton and Hemingway each volunteered for humanitarian medical service in World War I, then drew upon their experiences in subsequent literary works, Jennifer Haytock and Milena Radeva-Costello analyze their powerful perspectives on the cataclysmic conflict traditionally viewed as marking the advent of modernism in literature. In turn, Cecilia Macheski and Sirpa Salenius consider the authors’ passionate representations of Italy, informed by personal sojourns there, in which they observed its beautiful landscapes and culture, its liberating contrast with the United States, and its period of fascist politics. Linda Wagner-Martin, Lisa Tyler, and Anna Green focus on the complicated gender politics embedded in the works of Wharton and Hemingway, as evidenced in their ideas about female agency, sexual liberation, architecture, and modes of transportation. In the collection’s final section, Dustin Faulstick, Caroline Chamberlin Hellman, and Parley Ann Boswell address suggestive intertextualities between the two authors with respect to the biblical book of Ecclesiastes, their serialized publications in Scribner’s Magazine, and their affinities with the literary and cinematic tradition of noir.
Together, the essays in this engaging collection prove that comparative studies of Wharton and Hemingway open new avenues for understanding the pivotal aesthetic and cultural movements central to the development of American literary modernism.