A Dream Book
Of Hemingway's fiction in general, Malcolm Cowley writes that it has "a waking-dreamlike quality," that it presents "nightmares at noonday, accurately described, pictured without blur, but having the nature of obsessions or hypnagogic visions between sleep and waking." This essay is in a sense a detailed footnote on Cowley's important observations, an attempt to get at what we might call the mechanics that make A Farewell to Arms Hemingway's "dream book."
Other of Hemingway's fictions suggest a dream analogy. Much of The Sun Also Rises comes over like a vivid enervating dream, and Across the River and into the Trees has a charged and sensitized atmosphere that implies that the story transpires in another country, a country for which the metaphor "dream" seems as appropriate as any. And among the short stories the quality of a waking dream seems especially pertinent to " A Way You'll Never Be," " Now I Lay Me," and as Cowley shows us, "Big Two-Hearted River." It is significant that all of these stories are played out in the shadow of a traumatic wounding, and that the wounding recurs in the dreams of the protagonists. This wounding is given fictional embodiment in A Farewell to Arms. And so it is not surprising to find that in this book Hemingway's fiction comes closest to the condition of a dream.
Perhaps it has not been sufficiently recognized that each of Hemingway's major books is a kind of new direction, and not only as a literary type (romantic tragedy, epic, fable, etc.) but also stylistically; and further,____________________