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Two Modernist Perspectives: Comparing Hemingway and Woolf

Even though Ernest Hemingway and Virginia Woolf belong to the same literary period, Modernism, their types are very distinct. Modernism is a literary period characterised by variety of ideas, styles, techniques, theories, and tendencies that result from the epoch’s social and cultural reality. As a result, we can find a lot of schools or artistic movements in the very same period, such as Impressionism, Symbolism, and Expressionism. Although Hemingway can be regarded as a representative of Symbolism, Woolf is a significant Impressionist writer. A close analysis of Hemingway’s “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” and of Woolf’s “The String Quartet” may support us illustrate these authors’ differences as regards style, techniques or approach, and theme.

In ”The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” Ernest Hemingway’s style is marked by his use of symbols of associations, (e.g. the snow, the summit, the carrion eaters, and the leopard) and by the use of the third particular person omnipresent narrative device, plus the insertion of dialogues and flashbacks. The theme in this short story is an ethical one in the words of Carlos Baker, the story bargains with “the achievements and loss of moral manhood” (Weeks 118), or spiritual death and rebirth. The Snows of Kilmanjaro is the narration of the final days of a dying author, Harry, in a camp close to the edge of the Tanganyika plains country. He is a failed artist, who procrastinated writing simply because he was too lazy, and has exchanged his artistic talent for luxury, cash, and comfort. Obtaining married a wealthy lady without having loving her is what triggered Harry’s spiritual death and now that his physical death is near, he tries to make up for all those possibilities that he has lost. Hemingway utilizes simple and clear words and sentence structures, but he transmits meanings by means of symbols. From the beginning we are faced with one particular of the most essential symbols in the story, the frozen carcass of a leopard, which represents all the ideals that Harry has never ever been able to achieve. The subsequent symbols are the vultures that fly “obscenely” around their heads simply because of Harry’s rotten leg. These birds of prey are generally associated to death because they are carrion eaters in the same way, the presence of the hyena in this story is associated to Harry’s spiritual death and personality: living upon other folks.

Other symbols are the snow and the summit of Kilimanjaro, which are closely associated to each other. The snow is a recurrent image in Harry’s very first flashback: “That was a single of the factors he had saved to create, with, in the morning at breakfast, searching out the window and seeing snow on the mountains in Bulgaria and Nansen’s Secretary asking the old man if it have been snow.” Snow was always associated with episodes in his life that meant the loss of opportunities to write, possibilities for artistic expression. Now that he is short of time, he sees the snows of Kilimanjaro as a symbol of oblivion. Lastly, the summit of the mountain symbolises the doors of heaven, peace, and perfection. For Harry, reaching the leading of the mountain means fulfilling his performs as an artist and recovering his lost morality, or as I pointed out ahead of, it implies Harry’s spiritual re birth, because attaining his ideals secures his access to heaven.

Virgina Woolf is effectively identified for her obscure narrative style, which is clearly exemplified in “The String Quartet” by implies of sensory impressions, stream of consciousness, discontinuity, and minimising of plot. As an impressionist writer, Woolf tries to “retain the impressions that an object tends to make on her”(Aguirre, eight) in this case, she is attempting to capture a moment, a concert of music by Mozart, but by means of her conscience and by evoking what ever comes to her mind in the course of that moment. Her words are “Let us record the atoms as they fall upon the thoughts in the order in which they fall, let us trace the pattern, nonetheless disconnected and incoherent in appearance, which every single sight and incident scores upon consciousness.”(Muller, 318). We can see in this brief story that there is not a linear believed to adhere to, and therefore it is extremely hard to understand what it is about. For instance, in the first sentence – “WELL, right here we are, and if you cast your eye over the area you will see that Tubes and trams and omnibuses, private carriages not a few, even, I venture to believe, landaus with bays in them, have been busy at it, weaving threads from 1 finish of London” – the author begins without creating clear what she is talking about and does not finish her idea. This lack of coherence is a frequent feature of Modernism, and it is accomplished by means of the use of complicated syntax. Linguistically, Woolf utilizes “disjointed language structure, (“the very first violin counts one particular, two, 3-/ Flourish,…”), telegraphic dialogue, (“seven years because we met…”) syntactical compression, and condensation of juxtaposed pictures, ( “Flourish, spring […] from under the plane…”) (Aguirre, 11) among other devises, to accomplish the snapshot effect that is typical of Impressionism. This effect aims at projecting a moment not as it is objectively perceived, but as it is seen by the artist. As regards the theme in “The String Quartet,” Woolf deals with abstract subjects such as melancholy, sorrow, joy, and what ever feeling the music she is hearing provokes in her. The most outstanding function of this story is the subjectivity that permeates the whole image that the author projects to the reader, so much so, that it is practically not possible to catch it.

The main difference in between Virginia Woolf and Ernest Hemingway is associated to the techniques utilised to generate the plot: she creates imaginary or unreal places, occasions, and events in her thoughts, even though he is closer to realism in his straightforward way to describe the scenery and characters of his story. All items regarded as, we can see how these two exponents of Advance-Guard Literature exploit different methods of Modernism successfully as a result, illustrating the truth that “extreme diversity” (Aguirre, 1) is commonplace in this period.


Operates Cited

Aguirre, M. E. Manual de Cátedra: Modernismo. Facultad de Lenguas(UNC): Córdoba. 2006.

Muller, J. H.. Contemporary Fiction: A Study of Values. McGraw-Hill Book Company: New York. 1937.

Weeks, R. P. “Hemingway: A Collectin of Vital Essays”. Prentice-Hall, Inc.: Englewood Cliffs, N. J.. 1962.
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