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Seminar paper from the year 2014 in the subject English Language and Literature Studies - Literature, grade: A/ 1,0, New York University (Department of English), course: Seminar: "Transatlantic Modernism", language: English, abstract: Given that both authors, Hemingway and Chandler, represent a rather lean and reduced style, the extraordinary emphasis put on the recounts of drinking in both narratives is striking. This phenomenal contrast between the significant role of drink within the narrative and the sobriety of the narration on the level of style renders the depiction of scenes around drinking especially noteworthy. Much has been said about Hemingway being a dedicated and heavy drinker and thus literary criticism was often all too easily tempted to reduce the dominance of the topic of drinking in the novels to "... either the unavoidable ... aspect of the Hemingway hero ..., or [to a] barely mediated reinscription of the author's private drinking habits" (Nicholls 2000 (b): 86). Another approach was taken by representatives of medical and sociological studies on the representation of alcoholism in mass media who understand Hemingway's novel as a depiction of the expatriate scene in 1920s Paris and interpret the text as a promotion of drink as political attitude (cf. Room 1984: 543). These approaches, however, do not consider the functional employment of drink and respective rituals as fundamental elements of narrative structure apart from moral and medical connotations. They furthermore assume a highly simplified and homogenous quality of group dynamics on the level of the characters.This essay follows argues against a reading of Hemingway´s novel as using drink to establish a moral evaluative system. Arguing that both Hemingway and Chandler construe drink as a social and physical code drawing on a complex inventory of gestures and discursive patterns, the essay identifies moments of the narratives which show the constant encoding and decoding of drinking as a communicative practice the logic of which serves to establish in- and out-groups according to why, when, what and how to drink.In addition to shaping character interactions in a social sense, drink as a structural device functions in a physical sense as it serves as a material prompt for the characters to act out their roles. The strong and explicit focus on the portrayal of drinking habits and rituals adds a plasticity to the narratives which becomes significant especially with regard to Chandler and his style being highly influenced by cinematic aesthetics.
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