The story goes that in Madrid in 1937, Ernest Hemingway and André Malraux agreed, half in jest, to write novels about different periods of the Spanish Civil War. This is in fact what happened. Malraux’s novel Days of Hope, which he finished in the same year, ends with the defeat of the Italians at Guadalajara in March 1937. Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls, however, is set only two months later in the last week of May.1 While Malraux attempts to give a panoramic picture of the whole of that early part of the war from the first day of the military rebellion, Hemingway’s novel covers only three days out of the whole of the war. Malraux had dashed back to Paris to write his novel in the hope that the war might be won. When Hemingway began his novel in March 1939, the cause was already lost. Difference in the time of writing and difference in the scale of writing are both crucial in evaluating their respective novels. Malraux’s diffuse war-panorama and his glowing eulogy to human solidarity are indicative of his revolutionary optimism; Hemingway’s intensive focus and his feeling for the heroic in the midst of betrayal are indicative of tragic realism.
- Violent Death
- Spanish People
- Foreign Legion
- Literary Space
- Political Commissar
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See Hugh Thomas, The Spanish Civil War (Harmondsworth 1965), p. 336.
See C. D. Bland, Andre Malraux: Tragic Humanist (Ohio 1963), p. 49ff.
Andre Malraux, Man’s Estate (trans. Alistair Macdonald) (Harmondsworth 1972).
Malraux, Days of Hope (trans. Stuart Gilbert and Alistair Macdonald) (Harmondsworth 1970), p. 196.
Ernest Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls (Harmondsworth 1964), pp. 130–1.
Conventional wisdom about Hemingway’s treatment of sexuality has been shattered by the recent publication of The Garden of Eden (London 1987)
© 1989 John Orr
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Orr, J. (1989). Malraux and Hemingway: The Myth of Tragic Humanism. In: Tragic Realism and Modern Society. Edinburgh Studies in Culture and Society. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-349-19787-3_12
Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, London
Print ISBN: 978-0-333-46457-1
Online ISBN: 978-1-349-19787-3