Academic journal article The Hemingway Review

Self-Parody and Satirized Lovers in the Torrents of Spring

Academic journal article The Hemingway Review

Self-Parody and Satirized Lovers in the Torrents of Spring

Article excerpt

For his construction of the humorous romantic liaisons in The Torrents of Spring, Hemingway relied more heavily on his relationships with Hadley and Pauline than critics have thus far recognized. Moreover, the young author also drew on his memories of his World War I affair with Agnes von Kurowsky for Scrippss relationship with Lucy and Yogis encounters with the Parisian lady. By spoofing the male characters and their lovers, Hemingway demonstrates his sense of humor and his capacity for self-parody, qualities of his that have been often overlooked by many commentators.

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Even though critics have devoted a great deal of attention to Hemingway's frequent use of personal experiences in his fiction, they rarely comment on his use of satire or parody when writing about himself or those close to him. There are a few notable exceptions. For example, writing about the satirical The Fifth Column, Linda Wagner-Martin notes that the "Rawlings-Hemingway character [is] acting as a secret agent for the Loyalist side" (127), and Nancy Comley and Robert Scholes observe that in the same play, "[Martha] Gellhorn is caricatured as Dorothy Bridges" (40). Michael Reynolds points out that in an early draft of To Have and Have Not, "Jane Mason was blatantly portrayed among the idle rich as the collector of interesting men, Helene Bradley," and Hemingway portrays himself as '"The big slob' ... said to be the only best-selling author who was never in Helene's bed" (1930s 236). Hemingway's The Torrents of Spring is a particularly rich example of self-parody and personal satire, but critical attention to these elements of the short novel has been scant. Kenneth Lynn does note that Scripps O'Neil's relationships with Diana and Mandy reflect Hemingway's relationships with his first two wives, Hadley and Pauline, during the composition of Torrents. He explains, "the marital doom of both women [Hadley and Pauline] is written on the wall for all to see ... along with some insulting reasons why they would be cast off" (305). Lynn--and other commentators on Torrents--however, does not fully explore the influence of Hemingway's early relationships, including not just Hadley and Pauline but also Hemingway's World War I romance with Agnes von Kurowsky, on Scripps's and Yogi Johnson's romantic involvements.

First, there is ample evidence indicating that Hemingway modeled the foolish Scripps and Yogi at least in part on himself. The fact that this pair of romantic dupes shares a number of important similarities suggests that they derive from a common source. Judy Henn argues, for instance, that these "two unheroic heroes ... who often seem interchangeable, save for their disparate levels of sexuality" (6), are "so egocentric that neither can envision the other's quandary, nor imagine a woman's 'truths'" (14). Referencing 'Thomas Pughe, Henn also describes the two males as "wise fools" or "child-men" (7), two picaros who are each engaged in a search for "the perfect woman" (11). Scripps journeys comically from Mancelona to Petoskey, where he becomes involved with Diana and Mandy. Love-sick Yogi, who had once quested for his lost mansion lady in Paris, also undertakes an absurd journey at the end of the novel with a naked Native American woman, stripping off his own clothing as the two head north along the railroad tracks that lead from Petoskey to Mackinaw City and St. Ignace (87). Additionally, Scripps and Yogi are each rejected by their respective lovers, and each compromises his masculinity not only by continually chasing after women, but also by proving himself vulnerable to the opposite sex. Scripps, after learning of Lucy's abandonment, is immediately smitten, first by Diana and then by Mandy. Yogi, rendered impotent by the Parisian lady's deception, has his sexual vitality restored when he encounters a new girlfriend, the naked Native American woman (78-79). Finally, each of these two male fools contemplates suicide. …

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