An early gem from the greatest American writer of the twentieth century
First published in 1926, The Torrents of Spring is a hilarious parody of the Chicago school of literature. Poking fun at that "great race" of writers, it depicts a vogue that Hemingway himself refused to follow. In style and substance, The Torrents of Spring is a burlesque of Sherwood Anderson's Dark Laughter, but in the course of the narrative, other literary tendencies associated with American and British writers akin to Anderson -- such as D. H. Lawrence, James Joyce, and John Dos Passos -- come in for satirical comment. A highly entertaining story, The Torrents of Spring offers a rare glimpse into Hemingway's early career as a storyteller and stylist.
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July 24, 2002
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Excerpt from The Torrents of Spring by Ernest Hemingway
Yogi Johnson stood looking out of the window of a big pump-factory in Michigan. Spring would soon be here. Could it be that what this writing fellow Hutchinson had said, "If winter comes can spring be far behind " would be true again this year Yogi Johnson wondered. Near Yogi at the next window but one stood Scripps O'Neil, a tall, lean man with a tall, lean face. Both stood and looked out at the empty yard of the pump-factory. Snow covered the crated pumps that would soon be shipped away. Once the spring should come and the snow melt, workmen from the factory would break out the pumps from piles where they were snowed in and haul them down to the G. R. & 1. station, where they would be loaded on flat-cars and shipped away. Yogi Johnson looked out of the window at the snowed-in pumps, and his breath made little fairy tracings on the cold windowpane. Yogi Johnson thought of Paris. Perhaps it was the little fairy tracings that reminded him of the gay city where he had once spent two weeks. Two weeks that were to have been the happiest weeks of his life. That was all behind him now. That and everything else.
Scripps O'Neil had two wives. As he looked out of the window, standing tall and lean and resilient with his own tenuous hardness, he thought of both of them. One lived in Mancelona and the other lived in Petoskey. He had not seen the wife who lived in Mancelona since last spring. He looked out at the snow-covered pump-yards and thought what spring would mean. With his wife in Mancelona Scripps often got drunk. When he was drunk he and his wife were happy. They would go down together to the railway station and walk out along the tracks, and then sit together and drink and watch the trains go by. They would sit under a pine-tree on a little hill that overlooked the railway and drink. Sometimes they drank all night. Sometimes they drank for a week at a time. It did them good. It made Scripps strong.