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Elements of Masochism in Hemingway’s Work

  • Richard Fantina

Abstract

Hemingway’s depictions of masochism, by turns subtle and dramatic, abound in his most important works. This chapter discusses the most salient features of masochism as recognized by commentators, both those within psychoanalysis and those who question many of its premises. Among these are fetishism, humiliation, suspense, the contract, and pain. Sodomy, while it is inherently masochistic, may not be common to all masochists. Yet it was important to Hemingway and is discussed below. But I would like to begin by touching upon another theme common but not exclusive to masochism that runs throughout Hemingway’s fiction: the desire of the male and female lovers to merge their identities into one, an idea that radically questions theories of sexual difference. This desire for a symbiosis has become an important element in recent theorizations of masochism. Hemingway’s preoccupation with this theme merits some exploration.

Keywords

Short Story Female Phallus Masochistic Sexual Activity Dominant Woman Death Instinct 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Jacques Lacan, The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis, ed. Jacques-Main Miller, trans. Alan Sheridan (New York: Norton, 1998). All references are to this edition and are cited by page in the text. According to Lacan, every human being retains part of the “egg” which represents the pre-birth (or nonliving) state and thus resembles death. This becomes the myth of the lamella, which Lacan puns as l’hommelette (197). The lamella, according to Lacan, is almost a synonym for libido. He describes both as having characteristics of an organ. This lamella, he says, “survives any division” (197) such as that described by Aristophanes.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Hemingway, “Soldier’s Home” in In Our Time (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1930), 97.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Hemingway A, “The Last Good Country” in The Complete Short Stories: Finca Vigia Edition (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1987), 532. All references to this work are to this edition and are cited by page in the text. Where necessary for clarification, this collection will be abbreviated CSS.Google Scholar
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    Robert E. Fleming, “The Endings of Hemingway’s Garden of Eden,” American Literature, 61 (2) (1989), 268–269.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, “Lola” in The Master Masochist: Tales of a Sadistic Mistress, ed. Vyuyan Howarth, trans. Eric Lemuel Randall (London: Senate, 1996), 49.Google Scholar
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    Quoted in Camile Paglia, Sexual Personnae, Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson (New York: Vintage, 1991), 436.Google Scholar
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    Ernest Hemingway, To Have and Have Not (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1937), 116. All references to this work are to this edi-tion and are cited by page in the text. Where necessary for clarification, this title will be abbreviated to THHN.Google Scholar
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    Rose Marie Burwell, Hemingway: The Postwar Years and The Posthumous Novels (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 102. All further references are cited by page in the text.Google Scholar
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    Mark Spilka, “The Death of Love in The Sun Also Rises,” in Hemingway and His Critics, ed. Carlos Baker (New York: Hill and Wang, 1961), 90.Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Richard Fantina 2005

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  • Richard Fantina

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