Hemingway and the Feminine Complex

  • Richard Fantina


An attempt to trace the origins of Hemingway’s attitudes toward gender and sexuality calls for a look at some biographical details, most of which are already well known. Hemingway accepted the mystique of late-Victorian-influenced American masculinity very early in life in response to various environmental factors. Spilka convincingly demonstrates how Hemingway’s boyhood reading of imperial adventure stories by Kipling and Captain Marryat, and of the Muscular Christianity in Dinah Craik’s John Halifax, Gentleman, reinforced the views of his parents and played a significant role in his early development.1 Spilka also emphasizes that Hemingway was fond of Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, and Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, novels far more subversive of Victorian values, but presented then (and now) as part of the bourgeois cultural legacy. What Hemingway gained from Kipling and Marryat was an appreciation of adventure for its own sake. And while what he took from Brontë and Twain fed his more expansive and sensitive side, the influence of Kipling and Marryat remained significant throughout Hemingway’s life and he internalized many of those values in his persistent search for adventure and experience.


Female Sexuality Negative Reference Sexual Guilt Sexual Sadism Masochistic Sexual Activity 
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  1. 2.
    Peter Griffin, Less Than a Treason: Hemingway in Paris (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990), 49. All references are cited by page in the text.Google Scholar
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© Richard Fantina 2005

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  • Richard Fantina

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