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Reading Desire: In Pursuit of Ernest Hemingway

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Overview

Whether revered for his masculinity, condemned as an icon of machismo, or perceived as possessing complex androgynous characteristics, Ernest Hemingway is acknowledged to be one of the most important twentieth-century American novelists. For Debra A. Moddelmog, the intense debate about the nature of his identity reveals how critics' desires give shape to an author's many guises. In her provocative book, Moddelmog interrogates Hemingway's persona and work to show how our perception of the writer is influenced by society's views on knowledge, power, and sexuality. She believes that recent attempts to reinvent Hemingway as man and as artist have been circumscribed by their authors' investment in heterosexist ideology; she seeks instead to situate Hemingway's sexual identity in the interface between homosexuality and heterosexuality. Moddelmog looks at how sexual orientation, gender, race, nationality, able-bodiedness—and the intersections of these elements—contribute to the formation of desire. Ultimately, she makes a far-reaching and suggestive argument about multiculturalism and the canons of American letters, asserting that those who teach literature must be aware of the politics and ethics of the authorial constructions they promote.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This is a careful study, defining terms proper to gender criticism, acknowledges limitations, and documents other opinions in numerous lengthy footnotes and a bibliography. The author clearly answers the crucial question: What role should the author's life play in the interpretation of texts?"—Choice. April 2000

"Hemingway studies has long needed a book like Reading Desire."—Carl P. Eby. American Literature, March 2001

"A fascinating and important contribution to scholarship on gender construction and forms of sexual desire. The book is theorized through careful readings of Hemingway texts that were either unknown until recently or unread and untaught for decades because they revealed sides of Hemingway's sexuality and creativity which do not support his heteromasculine image. Debra Moddelmog's work has much to teach us about cultural constructions of sexuality, literary creativity, canonized writers, and culture 'heroes.'"—Shari Benstock, University of Miami

"This beautifully written book is the product of years of studying, teaching, and writing, and its finesse and sophistication show. It is likely to become a crucial piece of our long-standing arguments about the canons of American letters."—Linda Wagner-Martin, University of North Carolina

"This is a dangerous book. Debra Moddelmog's lucid, learned, and challenging reconstruction of Hemingway forces the reader to look into dark corners, question givens, and think anew about Ernest. I suspect the first response will be denial, but eventually we will be grateful for the author's courage in writing this book."—Michael Reynolds, author of Hemingway: The Final Years

"Debra A. Moddelmog declares the Great White Male not dead, but open for reconstruction. Her provocative book challenges existing criticism based on hegemonic assumptions about sexual orientation, gender, race, class, and able-bodiedness, and asks that we 'desire' to know—and teach—a different Hemingway."—Susan Beegel, Editor, The Hemingway Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801486357
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/1999
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 6.03 (w) x 9.02 (h) x 0.53 (d)

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