Ernest Hemingway’s (1899-1961) The First Forty-Nine Stories were originally anthologized in 1938 with his critically declaimed play, The Fifth Column. The First Forty-Nine surpass, in my opinion, any of his longer fiction, with the possible exception of The Sun Also Rises (1926), his second novel. Hemingway’s memoiresque A Moveable Feast (1964) as something not quite fictional if perhaps not quite a memoir either [and, furthermore, MF is composed of vignettes]). The First Forty-Nine consists of the shorter collections In Our Time (1925), Men Without Women (1927), and Winner Take Nothing (1933), plus four additional stories.
An ambulance driver in World War I, the Chicago-born Hemingway returned to Europe as an expatriot journalist in Paris during the 1920s. There he frequented the salons of his friends Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas. MF details much of his biography while he was still writing stories and recalls his friendship and interactions with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ford Maddox Ford, Sherwood Anderson, Ezra Pound, Pablo Picasso, and other modernist scenesters. Sylvia Beach of the bookstore/publisher Shakespeare and Company often lent Hemingway books; he was a great fan of Constance Garnett’s Russian translations. Other influences include Paul Cezanne, whose Impressionist brushstrokes Hemingway tried to emulate in words, and John Donne, from whose poetry Hemingway often borrowed lines as titles.
For our purposes in comps studying, I’m choosing a story for each of The First Forty-Nine‘s component volumes: “Indian Camp” (first published in 1924 in Ford’s transatlantic review) from In Our Time, “Che Ti Dice La Patria?” from Men Without Women, and “Fathers and Sons” from Winner Take Nothing. Many of Hemingway’s stories refer to a somewhat autobiographical protagonist, Nick Adams; these three stories can all be considered among the Nick Adams stories. Though only the first and third designate their protagonist as Nick, the second does not outrule this possibility (unlike the others, “Che Ti” is written in the first-person, so there is less opportunity for the writer to refer to his protagonist by name).