To open up the business background of Hemingway's published works, Trogdon draws from unpublished material at the Charles Scribner's Sons Archive and the Ernest Hemingway Collection, including records of advances, sales, royalties, and memos on advertising and other promotion. [...] Perkins is not only a more sympathetic character but also the central character in Trogdon's narrative.
526 / REVIEWS But in his careful and synthetic exposition of the major characters and themes of the Quartet–individual human action pitted against the collective conscience, the differing focus of novelist and historian, racial and gender tensions, the enigma of characters (like Merrick and Kumar) as products of empire, Emerson’s view of society and history, the limitations of liberalism in the face of exploitative imperialism, the primary metaphor (the raj as “the end of the British as they were”), and images that launch the plot of the novels–Steinberg effectively dissects Scott’s meta-historical analysis that, in effect, places history itself on center stage. That Scott has written a novel epic is less interesting to me than why he needed a sequence of four novels to communicate what he wanted readers to understand, especially in light of the fact that in writing Jewel, he did not conceive of a sequence at all. The epic may well have moved away from verse into prose, but great writers (Homer, Tolstoy, and Scott, for example) need a vehicle, a tool, to get at “that big thing” (141); they can do so only by considering many things through hundreds of pages. What is missing, perhaps, from Steinberg’s discussion is a more radical posture toward purveyors of literature who treat traditional classiﬁcations of genre as sacrosanct. Steinberg’s use of traditional epics as touch points in his chapters suggests that he does not want to stray too far from scholarly precedent. Steinberg aligns each of his examples with another, more familiar epic candidate. Three Cities, set against the backdrop of the Russian Revolution, is compared to Sholokhov’s Quiet Flows the Don. The Fortunes of War, dealing with the collapse of the British Empire, is aligned with Homer’s Iliad. Scott’s Raj Quartet is compared to Tolstoy’s War and Peace (the greatest and originary epic novel) while the Jerusalem Quartet is likened, interestingly enough, to the works of Thomas Pynchon. Finally, the Alexandria Quartet closely parallels Dante’s Divine Comedy in theme and structure. What Steinberg should argue explicitly, and what he demonstrates by implication, is not simply that the epic has been reshaped through these novel-sequences. More importantly, the novel epic requires a new understanding on our part of what writers of the epic want to do and the knowledge that they need to impart. The missing piece may be a conclusion that takes yet another meta-step back to articulate not simply the changing elements of the epic but, more importantly, the cultural conditions that evoke such extended and measured contemplation.
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