The Rise of the Old Brute

  • Stephen Gilbert Brown
Part of the American Literature Readings in the 21st Century book series (ALTC)


This chapter reads the rupture between Ed and Ernest through the lens of trauma theory, positing Hemingway’s turn toward the primitive as a defensive response to it. I explicate the relationship between trauma, personality, and prose through the post-traumatic tropes of “dissociation” (fragmentation) and “retrenchment” (regression), while contextualizing each as part of a host of defensive responses Hemingway developed over time with respect to the wounds of family, love, and war. The epistolary evidence is presented to document the emergence of the Old Brute as a sign of the retrenched personality, as well as the blood spoor this persona leaves in the symbolic realm of Hemingway’s trauma narratives (DIA, GHOA, TAFL/UK et al.). The trope of the primitive is also read through the lens of its inter-textual alliterations with Hewlett, Twain and Roosevelt.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephen Gilbert Brown
    • 1
  1. 1.University of NevadaLas VegasUSA

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