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Orwell and Hemingway

ENGL 260.301
instructor(s):
TR 3-4:30

 

George Orwell and Ernest Hemingway met only once, as war correspondents in Paris during the 1940's, but they knew each other's work. During the first half of the twentieth century, they wrote in a variety of genres—reportage, travel book, memoir, parody, satire, and novel, to name a few. This course will compare their careers as writers within the contrasting literary and political cultures of Great Britain and America. Both men fled the middle-class worlds of their youth, donned military uniforms, learned the writing trade as journalists, lived in Paris as fledgling artists, and argued with fellow writers and critics. Both witnessed Spanish Civil War and wrote books about it. We'll trace the effects of journalism on their writing, especially in their adoption of the plain style, and we'll examine codes of masculinity and depictions of women in their fiction and non-fiction. We'll also consider the perspectives of biographers and feminist critics, paying special attention to the different paths these men took as literary modernists--Hemingway the self-reliant artist, high-living sportsman and celebrity, wary of political movements; Orwell the committed socialist, anti-imperialist, and anti-Stalinist. We’ll pair the following texts: Down and Out in Paris and London and A Moveable Feast; A Farewell to Arms and Burmese Days; Homage to Catalonia and For Whom the Bell Tolls; Animal Farm and The Old Man and the Sea; Orwell’s essays and Hemingway’s short stories. We’ll also read a biography of each writer to compare how they became enormously popular figures with near-mythic personas. Coursework will include several brief response papers, a mid-term essay, and a final 10-page paper.