September 07, 2012
Ernest Hemingway is an American icon, but within that status, there are many depictions of the man including: Hemingway as the Nobel Prize-winning literary hero whose terse style became synonymous with his name; Hemingway the celebrity, who cavorted with film stars and romanced Marlene Dietrich; Hemingway the journalist, attracted to dramatic stories from war fronts; and Hemingway the archetypal macho man, a sportsman and gun aficionado who survived two plane crashes while hunting on the African safari.
Tracking Hemingway: A Literary Survey of an American Icon is a unique three-session book discussion group that examines important works by Hemingway, including a new edition providing dozens of alternate endings for A Farewell to Arms.
Tracking Hemingway sessions will take place Tuesdays at 7:00 p.m. at the North Independence Branch, located at 317 W. 24 Hwy. These book discussion sessions feature Park University Professor Dennis Okerstrom, who will offer a short presentation designed to spur conversation before joining the discussion himself.
A Hemingway expert, Okerstrom knows every iteration of the Hemingway type and how the author’s "write-what-you-know philosophy" often revealed shades of himself within his fiction. Attendees can expect Okerstrom to provide accessible and insightful guidance through these selections.
"I do not always enjoy academic writing and academic discourse," Okerstrom says. "People oftentimes just shut off. Our Tracking Hemingway discussions will focus on making the ideas and themes presented in these texts accessible."
Please register for this series (at any MCPL circulation desk or online) in order to obtain a reserved copy of all three reading selections.
The Tracking Hemingway reading selections are:
For Whom the Bell Tolls
This sweeping novel takes place over three days during the Spanish Civil War as a volunteer American soldier sets his sights on demolishing a bridge of strategic importance to the fascist war effort. Hemingway offers vivid sketches of the Spanish landscape and its people, drawn from his decades-long admiration of the country. Its focus on the human cost of cruelty, confusion, and passion amid wartime led some critics to describe For Whom the Bell Tolls as the greatest American political novel.
A Moveable Feast
In the 1920s, a loose collective of writers, painters, and musicians were individually drawn to Paris - and in the heady environment of salons and bookshops, these questing artists were fused into their own movement and eventually dubbed "the Lost Generation." The derivation of this term is examined in Hemingway's classic posthumous memoir, but greater attention is given to how the people (including Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Ford Madox Ford) and the place would influence the words he wrote. More than once, Hemingway describes how he would try to imbue a story with his immediate Parisian atmosphere; in this book, he undoubtedly succeeds.
A Farewell to Arms
Hemingway offers a loosely biographical account of his experiences on the Italian front of World War I in this wartime love story. When the wounded Lieutenant Henry arrives in a Milan hospital, he is put under the care of nurse aid Catherine Barkley - and a relationship that begins as a distraction consumes them both. This Tracking Hemingway book discussion will feature a new edition of the novel that includes 47 alternate endings penned by the author.
About the Scholar:
Dr. Dennis Okerstrom has taught English at Park University for more than 25 years, having earned multiple awards for distinguished teaching and scholarship. He has presented at numerous conferences, including the International Hemingway Society, and received a Fulbright grant for research in 2008. His latest book is The Final Mission of Bottoms Up, a nonfiction account of a WWII bomber pilot who crash landed behind enemy lines.
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