Back “Out of Season,” Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway (1899–1961)
From Ernest Hemingway: The Sun Also Rises & Other Writings 1918–1926

Hand-colored photographic postcard showing Cortina d’Ampezzo during the 1920s, with the cliffs of Pomagagnon in the background. (eBay)

One hundred years ago, on August 13, 1923, Ernest Hemingway’s first book, Three Stories & Ten Poems, was published by Contact Editions, a small press in France that issued works in English. Only 300 copies were printed, some of which went on sale that day at Shakespeare & Co, the famed bookstore in Paris owned by American expatriate Sylvia Beach.

The little book included the only two stories that survived the theft of Hemingway’s manuscripts the previous December, as well as “Out of Season,” the first story he had been able to write since that incident. (The ten poems, it must be said, are unremarkable.) Two years later, he reprinted “Out of Season” in his better-known story collection, In Our Time.

In The Cambridge Companion to Hemingway, Thomas Strychacz argues for the importance of that third new story in Hemingway’s early work. “If there is one central story in the bundle of whipsaw-keen narratives, terse vignettes, and fragmentary epiphanies of Ernest Hemingway’s In Our Time, it may be ‘Out of Season.’ The story probes the paradox of the book’s title by asking, What does it mean to be in our time but out of season? . . . Spiritual deadness, anomie, aimless wandering, conflict between genders and cultures, and miscommunication—these define the relationship between the expatriate American couple and their guide Peduzzi. . . .”

Hemingway later admitted to F. Scott Fitzgerald that the story is “an almost literal transcription of what happened” during a day he and his wife spent with a drunken fishing guide in the Italian town of Cortina d’Ampezzo—only hours after they had had a tense quarrel. Several biographers and critics contend that the story marks a important shift in Hemingway’s writing career—and a decisive return to fiction after he fell victim to a demoralizing crime. We present it in full as our Story of the Week selection, with an introduction describing the events leading up to its publication.

Read Ernest Hemingways’s “Out of Season”

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