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The Torrents of Spring (1926)

by Ernest Hemingway

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5421033,782 (3.08)15
An early gem from the greatest American writer of the twentieth century First published in 1926, The Torrents of Spring is a hilarious parody of the Chicago school of literature. Poking fun at that "great race" of writers, it depicts a vogue that Hemingway himself refused to follow. In style and substance, The Torrents of Spring is a burlesque of Sherwood Anderson's Dark Laughter, but in the course of the narrative, other literary tendencies associated with American and British writers akin to Anderson -- such as D. H. Lawrence, James Joyce, and John Dos Passos -- come in for satirical comment. A highly entertaining story, The Torrents of Spring offers a rare glimpse into Hemingway's early career as a storyteller and stylist.… (more)
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    Dark Laughter by Sherwood Anderson (KayCliff)
    KayCliff: The Torrents of Spring is a parody of Dark Laughter.
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Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
Well that's a few hours of my reading time I've never getting back. ( )
  merlin1234 | Jul 9, 2021 |
It isn't my favorite book by Hemingway, but I am now curious to read something by Sherwood Anderson, the main author(his mentor and friend) whom he was parodying. When a book introduces me to a new idea, or author, or forces me to look up information, I consider it worth reading, even if the story was a little strange, or the characters unlikable, as was the case in "Torrents". ( )
  Chrissylou62 | Aug 1, 2020 |
I need to read more of the British and American literature of the times to understand the burlesque nature of this work. Looks like I will have to re-read this one at a later date. ( )
  madepercy | Nov 7, 2017 |
Well, that was peculiar. I'm not quite sure what I've just read, or even whether I entirely liked it or not. I've given it a two-star rating, but that would suggest I disliked it – and that is not the case. I've enjoyed everything I've read by Hemingway (which is quite a lot by now), and The Torrents of Spring did give me a bit more insight into the man and his craft (though not as much as advertised by the blurb and by David Garnett, who wrote the introduction to my Arrow edition). The book is a parody of one of the schools of literary writing which was prominent at the time it was published, and shows – as Garnett rightly notes – Hemingway turning against his teachers and literary advisers (pg. xv). The young writer (The Torrents of Spring is his second published work) is parodying the falsity of the author's approach" to story (pg. xii). He is scorning the lazy way in which writers would tell us how a character was feeling rather than showing us, and particularly – to my mind – the overwrought prosing whereby writers would use one-hundred words when ten would do (a good example is 'The best by test' sign on pages 19-20). It is no coincidence that Hemingway's later work would go on to be characterised by its honesty, its brevity and its clean, clipped prose: the 'iceberg' theory where nine-tenths of what is there is hidden from view. The Torrents of Spring does give us some shreds of insight into how and why Hemingway developed his distinctive writing style.

Unfortunately, though the book has no flaws in terms of what it hoped to achieve (it is a modest parody of a selective school of literary thought, not meant as a bestseller or a classic of fiction), its very nature also makes it one of the more dated pieces of Hemingway's work (even more than his ode to bullfighting, Death in the Afternoon, which I actually thought was pretty damn good). It is a parody of a literary school which has long since died out, and of one book in particular – Sherwood Anderson's Dark Laughter – that many nowadays will not have even heard of, let alone read. Consequently, it is – as Garnett concedes – a topical joke which to modern readers needs an explanation (pg. ix).

I still enjoyed it, even though I was often excluded from the joke, and there were some bits of humour which made me smile even without a working knowledge of Anderson or the Chicago school of the 1920s. It is also an absolute breeze to read, which makes me even more inclined to be kind to it. Overall, it is an unobtrusive little curio in the Hemingway oeuvre." ( )
1 vote MikeFutcher | Jun 3, 2016 |
I heard this book was written as a satire of the style at the time. I’ve also heard that Hemingway wrote it to fulfill a contract with a publisher he didn’t want to work with anymore. I’m not sure what all is truth, but the end result isn’t great. The book is short, but still manages to feel disjointed. Its main focus is a man who loses his wife and then marries a waitress. There’s not much meat to the story and it wasn’t memorable in any way. Taken in the context of when it was written, I'm sure there's stylistic elements to be admired, but it hasn't stood up well with age for the general public. ( )
  bookworm12 | Aug 12, 2015 |
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An early gem from the greatest American writer of the twentieth century First published in 1926, The Torrents of Spring is a hilarious parody of the Chicago school of literature. Poking fun at that "great race" of writers, it depicts a vogue that Hemingway himself refused to follow. In style and substance, The Torrents of Spring is a burlesque of Sherwood Anderson's Dark Laughter, but in the course of the narrative, other literary tendencies associated with American and British writers akin to Anderson -- such as D. H. Lawrence, James Joyce, and John Dos Passos -- come in for satirical comment. A highly entertaining story, The Torrents of Spring offers a rare glimpse into Hemingway's early career as a storyteller and stylist.

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