In our time

by Ernest Hemingway

Paperback, 1996

Status

Available

Publication

New York : Scribner Paperback Fiction, 1996.

Description

When In Our Time was published in 1925, it was praised by Ford Madox Ford, John Dos Passos, and F. Scott Fitzgerald for its simple and precise use of language to convey a wide range of complex emotions, and it earned Hemingway a place beside Sherwood Anderson and Gertrude Stein among the most promising American writers of that period. In Our Time contains several early Hemingway classics, including the famous Nick Adams stories "Indian Camp," "The Doctor and the Doctor's Wife," "The Three Day Blow," and "The Battler," and introduces readers to the hallmarks of the Hemingway style: a lean, tough prose--enlivened by an ear for the colloquial and an eye for the realistic that suggests, through the simplest of statements, a sense of moral value and a clarity of heart. Now recognized as one of the most original short story collections in twentieth-century literature, In Our Time provides a key to Hemingway's later works.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member deslni01
In 1925, a relatively unknown World War I veteran named Ernest Hemingway released a collection of short stories entitled In Our Time. This new author was a treat to the readers, as he wrote with a style very different than what the readers were accustomed to. Instead of long, flowing prose, Hemingway's stories were written in short, declarative sentences, with an oblique style of emotions for the characters. This new minimalist approach to literature would become one of the greatest changes in literary style, influencing the entire literary scene until - and much past - World War II.

The book consists of many short stories, separated by short vignettes. Many of the short stories contain the character Nick Adams, initially a young boy learning about death in the company of his father who is a doctor. Then, he begins growing up. He has relationships with young women and great friends. These stories are divided by very short vignettes portraying the violence and emotions suffered in World War I. Very notable is Chapter VII,

...he lay very flat and sweated and prayed oh jesus christ get me out of here. Dear jesus please get me out. Christ please please please christ. If you'll only keep me from getting killed I'll do anything you say...Please please dear jesus...The next night back at Mestre he did not tell the girl he went upstairs with at the Villa Rossa about Jesus. And he never told anybody.

The Nick Adams stories come to a close at the end of the book with the two part Big Two-Hearted River, which shows an older, more mature Nick Adams, returned from the war and returning to the calming lifestyle of his youth by camping and fly-fishing in an amazingly described river and meadow.

In Our Time set the stage for Ernest Hemingway to become one of the most influential writers (some would argue he was the most influential) of the twentieth century. His short, terse, masculine prose would set the literary world on fire and paved the way for Hemingway's other masterpieces, including The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and The Old Man and the Sea. In Our Time is an excellent introductory work to the writing of Hemingway and is a classic sure to be enjoyed by many.
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LibraryThing member Polaris-
His first published book. This is a very good collection of shorts by a young man clearly confident in his own style and with an ability to write stories that have a straight and clear voice, and that I think (with one or two cultural exceptions) has aged really well.

The book's structure in itself has a modern feel to it - the stories alternate with very short bursts of what would probably now be called micro-fiction. There are tales here covering subject matter that would become especially familiar to followers of his writing: of soldiers returning home from battle; vagrants on the road; young Americans at leisure in Europe; assorted 'butch' pursuits that you'd wear a cosy plaid shirt for: hunting, fishing, skiing, boozing, etc. I enjoyed most of the stories, but the stand-outs for me were: "The Battler"(I wanted more of those characters!), "The Three-Day Blow", "Soldier's Home", and "Big Two-Hearted River" (both parts).

Hemingway introduces his character Nick Adams in many of these stories. From boyhood to manhood we see the character grow, passing through the horrors of service in the First World War, returning back home to small town America. The writing is really very good. Hemingway's skill as a nature writer alone is remarkable - his ability to describe with such clarity - yet without verbosity - and so beautifully, precisely what the reader needs to 'see' in their mind's eye, has very few equals. Very hard to believe that this collection is not far off being a hundred years old! Well worth reading.
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LibraryThing member andyray
These were the first collection of stories from the pen of the late, great, Ernest Miller Hemingway. They are known by Papa afficiandoes as "the Nick Adams stories" and are written in EH's characteristic sparse style. Although published by Scribner in the late 1920s, this title was first used on a limited edition published by Hemingway in Paris circa 1924. The best use of language herein comes with "Big Two-Hearted River, parts I and II," where he uses his verbal paint brush in a pointilistic manner to create the picture of the land Nick travels through. You are there, tasting the beans (at least until he puts ketshup on them), the trout, and the sharp country air. And you feel the ice coldness of the river water as Nick enters it to fly-fish. Of course, many knew there was something "different" about Hemingway's style, but they didn't know then that he was kicking off a whole school of 20th-century writing called "minimalism.," as well as contributing the literary version of the philosophy of existentialism."… (more)
LibraryThing member browner56
In Our Time is a collection of short stories and vignettes written by Ernest Hemingway during his Paris years in the 1920s. (In fact, the book is dedicated to Hadley of The Paris Wife fame.) While the pieces in the volume vary in topic from war scenes to personal relationships between men and women to bullfighting, the connecting theme throughout is the author’s effort to make sense of his experiences in World War I. Deploying his legendarily terse Modernist writing style, Hemingway explores the nature of bravery and fear, love and loss, physical action and introspection. There is a melancholy feel that pervades the entire work as Hemingway comes to grip with the loss of innocence that accompanied the “Great War” in much the same way that Tim O’Brien chronicled his experiences in Viet Nam almost a century later in the equally compelling The Things They Carried.

The stories themselves are all very brief—they range in length from just a single page to eight or ten pages—but they are, for the most part, all remarkably powerful. My favorites involved the exploits of Nick Adams, Hemingway’s alter ego, before, during and after the war. The strongest pieces were “Indian Camp,” “The End of Something,” “The Three-Day Blow,” “My Old Man,” and “Big Two-Hearted River, Parts I and II”. I know that Hemingway’s reputation has suffered in recent years as some of the more sordid details of his personal life have emerged, but there is no denying that he was an incredibly talented writer with a deep understanding of human nature. Although better known for his longer works, these short stories stand as great examples of a world-class author finding his voice. Indeed, this is the book that put Hemingway on the literary map and it was an absolute pleasure to read.
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LibraryThing member BrendanPMyers
If, like me, you'd never read Hemingway and are thinking it might be time, you can't go wrong starting with this collection of early short stories. Setting aside the stories themselves are damned entertaining, it's a wonderful introduction to Hemingway's spare prose style (which he was honing while writing them) and it's also a very short book, containing a number of themes that, should you continue reading him, you'll find he returns to again and again, such as combat on the Italian front and bullfighting.

The book also contains a number of "Nick Adams" stories, concerning a young man growing up in Michigan, that feel as fresh today as they must have when he wrote them.

I think the story that stuck with me the most was "The Three-Day Blow," and if you've ever gotten drunk with your best friend, I suspect it might stick with you as well.

Another cool thing about this book?

Some of the stories are as short as this review.
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LibraryThing member endersreads
This was my first experience with Hemingway. I remember reading of how Hemingway and Faulkner fought over writing styles. I sided with Faulkner, due to word extinction. I was yet shocked at the simplicity of Hemingway's prose; and yet, I could not deny there was something there, some dark force just under the surface that led you along.

I think people have fun reading Hemingway and adding their own conclusions about that darkness just under the surface. For instance, in "On the Quai At Smyrna" was it the most humane thing for the Greeks to break the forelegs of all the animals they couldn't take with them and let them drown in shallow water? Was it a pleasant business? It was a way of coping with experience.

In "Indian Camp" I found two things of interest: (1. Nick's father, the doctor, said he doesn't hear screams because the aren't important. This is not a doctor I'm not sure I would like to be under the care of. Does empathy play a part in being a good physician? On the other hand, I rather have a cold but sure hand rather than an empathetic one. Both would be nice. Something is lacking in the former. (2. Why did the Indian father kill himself when it was that the doctor was there to deliver his baby? Perhaps his foot-wound was something he felt would not heal properly. Can we be sure it was suicide? How many people kill themselves by cutting their own throats?

"The Doctor And The Doctor's Wife" reveals that the doctor isn't keen on fighting, is a thief in denial, and that his wife is a Christian Scientist. The latter reveals the likely catalyst of much of Nick's problems.

"The End of Something" was the end of Nick's childhood and the beginning of the years of confusion.

"The Three Day Blow" shows us that Nick turns to alcohol for answers.

"The Battler" is Nick's initiation into manhood.

"Cross Country Snow" could be said to be a tale of freedom verses entrapment, which results in resignation.

"My Old Man" is another man not unlike the doctor—a good man, but dishonest—a paradoxical disappointment.

"Big Two Hearted River" was Nick, at home, in his own environment. It was, I believe, an attempt to disassociate, withdraw, and become self-sufficient. The swamps will be the undoing of Nick. It will be his greatest time of learning.
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LibraryThing member Smiler69
I believe this collection of stories is from Hemingway’s beginnings as a writer. There were a few moments, but overall I’d say it’s probably not his best work. Still, there is no such thing as ‘bad’ Hemingway so it’s well worth the read.
LibraryThing member BenKline
Not a bad collection of short stories, but not a great one either. Hemingway is hit or miss for me. Some of his short stories just read as pointless to me while others read as very poignant.
LibraryThing member ametralladoras
Definitely wouldn't have liked this book as much had I read it outside of an English class. There's so many more emotions and layers and interpretations that could be given beyond what is merely written on the page. Hemingway uses these stories to critique on war, relationships, home, modernity, maturity, family, etc. etc.
LibraryThing member ostrom
I like using this book in undergraduate creative-writing classes sometimes because he wrote it when he was in his 20s, and the book is uneven in instructive ways.
LibraryThing member alanteder
The Ur-Hemingway Vignettes
Review of the Modernist Versions Project / University of Victoria facsimile eBook edition (2015) of the 1924 chapbook original

In my initial Library Thing years and my Hemingway enthusiasm I added the original 1924 chapbook edition of in our time to the database as it was missing. Since then I have to regularly monitor that it doesn't get merged with the later 1925 or 1930 book of short stories In Our Time where the original 18 vignettes became 16 inter-chapters and 2 were expanded into longer short story versions. Call me an obsessive, but I can't see how 18 short paragraphs on 32 pages can be considered the same book as another with 14 (15 as of 1930) short stories on about 160 to 200 pages in various editions.

Hemingway's short vignettes were based around themes that recurred throughout his life. These were people or animals in extreme situations, often at the point of death. The passages are drawn from wars (World War I and the Greco-Turkish War) and their aftermaths or matadors, horses and bulls in the bullfighting ring. Often they are based on previous newspaper articles that he wrote, some of which are collected in anthologies such as By-Line: Selected Articles and Dispatches of Four Decades (1967). Others were expanded into short stories such as the The Nick Adams Stories (1966) {Hemingway's proxy Nick makes his first appearances in the vignettes] or novels such as The Sun Also Rises (1926) and A Farewell to Arms (1929).

The vignettes are an experimental laboratory for what later was called the Iceberg Theory, where the contexts and backgrounds for stories were omitted and were left to the reader's imagination. Using chapter 4 as an example:
WE were in a garden at Mons. Young Buckley came in with his patrol from across the river. The first German I saw climbed up over the garden wall. We waited till he got one leg over and then potted him. He had so much equipment on and looked awfully surprised and fell down into the garden. Then three more came over further down the wall. We shot them. They all came just like that. - chapter 4 of in our time
This is shortest of the vignettes, so also the easiest to copy. 1924 readers would probably easily imagine this as being from the Battle of Mons in World War I, but a century later that is a more difficult jump for most. It is left unexplained who Buckley was or why the Germans would keep coming over the wall despite the obvious easy shooting, as if of targets, by the British forces. The reader has to imagine all of that for themselves.
Hemingway is, then, a far more difficult author than the simplicity of his prose suggests. This is, in many respects, the greatest challenge and the greatest reward for reading Hemingway: he is both extremely easy and extremely difficult. The contrast lies between his clear and simple prose versus his unstated or implicit concerns. This leads many readers to assume they have “understood” Hemingway by simply reading him when we must first recognize how he trains us to be more careful and more critical readers ers. In this respect, Hemingway is a pedagogical writer insofar as he teaches his readers a new form of attention, a new form of sensitivity to language. - from the Introduction by James Gifford, editor for the 2015 edition.

Trivia and Link
The 46 page Modernist Versions Project edition of in our time is freely available (as of early December 2020) at the University of Victoria website here in pdf format. In addition to the original 32 page text, it includes an Introduction, Textual Notes and End Notes by edition James Gifford.
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LibraryThing member jonfaith
Most of this stunning collection was a reread for me. I borrowed the collected Nick Adams stories 20 years ago and never returned it: sorry Dr. Kennedy. The structure of In Our Time is a marvel. The pacing and economy have been canonized elsewhere.

Having spent most of Friday in the rain, I've been just outside the pale of a cold all weekend. The talons of infirmity appeared so close today. After United's victory at Stamford Bridge I retreated. This collection is a jewel.… (more)
LibraryThing member RBeffa
This is a powerful work - an unconventional grouping of stories that marked Hemingway's first major success as a writer. I believe these are the stories he is writing in A Moveable Feast and this time in his life when he is writing these is well covered in Paula McLain's The Paris Wife. In some ways the success that started here doomed his marriage to Hadley Richardson. One can also see many elements of Hemingway's life so far within these stories and the creation of the post WWI 'Lost Generation'. Stuff like this is why Hemingway is one of my favorite writers.

I thought that (roughly) the first half of the book was the strongest with some hard hitting sketches and stories. Towards the middle I felt there was a small slump, a fumble lets call it as well as a story or two where Hemingway lays on that Hemingway style just a little too thick, which on reflection keeps me from rating this higher than 4 stars. The Nick Adams stories in here were my favorites overall, but I like how Hemingway broke things up in a very interesting manner.

A few of these stories might bother a sensitive reader for the language, topics and sensibilities of the times (1920's).

This was a reread for me - first read sometime in the early to mid 90's.
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LibraryThing member JBreedlove
A literary sorbet for sure. Read this 30 years ago and needed some clean crisp writing to read after the mess that is 100 Years of Solitude. The Broken-Hearted River rings so true. It brings me back to the Maine north woods. Love the Nick Adams but the Italian stories were ok. Will read another EH for sure.
LibraryThing member reader1009
short fiction (classic literature, 1910s?). Short stories (including some very early flash fiction) and some connected stories (recurring characters/themes). Without the background context, some of this goes over your head, but just from the stories you can make sense of, you get that this is a great writer.
LibraryThing member jbarr5
In Our Time by Ernest Hemingway
Different stories of war times, helping the woman birth the children with the Indians,
Stories of bull fights, fishing, skiing in the snow, jockeys and horse racing,
I received this book from National Library Service for my BARD (Braille Audio Reading Device).… (more)

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1995
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