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“Everybody Has It”: Syphilis and the Human Condition in the Writings of Ernest Hemingway

  • Lisa Tyler
Chapter

Abstract

The ubiquitous references to venereal disease in Hemingway's writings signal his commitment to literary modernism and the shock of the new. Syphilis, the life-long, potentially fatal illness for which there was no permanent remedy until 1943, became a trope for Hemingway. Again and again, he presents sexually transmitted diseases in general, and syphilis in particular, as the universal human condition. Hemingway sees syphilis as both a concrete medical reality of his time and an iconic form of human suffering, a metaphor for what all humans must eventually endure: suffering for which there is no remedy. He then explicitly links that suffering both to unreasonable and inherently dangerous societal expectations for masculine behavior and to the emotional pain of the depression he repeatedly experienced.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lisa Tyler
    • 1
  1. 1.Sinclair Community CollegeDaytonUSA

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