Hemingway's Neglected Short Fiction

- A Very Short Story as Therapy- Scott Donaldson
By: Sara R.

“ A Very Short Story as Therapy”- Scott Donaldson


  • Critics have neglected this Short Story because of its brevity and its lack of merit
  • A very Short Story takes on special importance as therapy
  • It repays close scrunity
  • A Very Short Story ranks as one of Hemingway’s last effective stories. Behind a pretense of objectivity, it excoriates the faithless Agnes
  • Four years after the jilting he seemed to have dissipated his bitterness against her in the process. In ‘Along with Youth’ (1925) and ‘ A Farewell to Arms’ (1929) he explored the subject of love between a wounded soldier and his nurse but in both cases the rancor is gone
  • According to Henricksen, he subjects Hemingway’s bullfighting story to a Bakhtinean analysis, describing how this polyphonic text gives full expression to the dialogic nature of the self. In the process, he reaches some startling and provocative conclusions about the ideological content of the bullfighting interchapters
  • According to Mikhail Bakhtin, rejected a model of the self as a totalized, centered, monological entity
  • Klaus Theweleit’s : ‘ Male Fantasies’ –Hemingway is only mentioned once in his book, in the context of a discussion of: ‘ One of the Most Pervasive male fantasies in our Society’which concerns sexual relationships with nurses. He describes the ‘ bullfighting’ as a fictional portrait of the fascist model. These fantasies depicts a patriarchal, masculine organization of life.
  • Critics have praised Hemingway’s objectivity as if the author’s precise presentation of concrete detail were his major accomplishment
  • Hemingway is a modernist. – More like Tolstoy than Dostoevsky. His characters are dominated by the will of the narrative.

This book has three versions:

  • The Pencil draft – headed ‘ Personal’- Version A
  • Chapter 10 of ‘In our Time’- 1924- Version B
  • ‘A Very Short Story ‘ of In Our Time and the collected stories – Version C
  • Version A contains only four paragraphs. Versions B and C run to seven paragraphs and about twice as many words as the first draft
  • The first three versions of version A are transferred to subsequent versions and the first paragraph itself remains fixed throughout


  • The difference between version A and the two that followed was that the first draft did not censure Agnes in its closing section
  • Most of the revisions involved additions rather than deletions
  • Hemingway’s bullfighting story: First Interlude- Voice of the innocent and enthusiastic outsider. Second Interlude- The voice is more objective and the first two interludes show us two versions of the uninitiated subject. In the third Interlude, the narrator emerges as an ‘I’- a self-aware subject that seems to coincide from the first American voice of the First Interlude. The subject ‘I’ is constituted as a ‘loss’.