Africa’s Flora and Fauna in Hemingway’s Stories on Africa: An Exploration

Kayode G. Kofoworola

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Ernest  Hemingway  is  much  more  famously  known  for  his  novel,  Farewell  to  Arms,  which coincidentally  has  been  a  set-book  for  studies  in  literature  in  many  schools  across  the  world, West Africa inclusive. However, very little attention has been paid until recently to his stories written about or on Africa which were a product of his first African safari.  Kelli Larson in fact asserts that: “Although  the African works in  general have not  garnered the critical attention of such mainstays as The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms, they continue to hold their own in the critical stakes, and  their underexposure  to  various  theoretical lenses promises exciting new developments  for  future  studies”(2011: 323). Without doubt Hemingway was so enthralled by Africa; that he wrote in “True at First Light”; “I never knew of a morning in Africa when I woke up that I was not happy.” The product of this enthrallment is the production of two short stories and a novel: The Snows of Kilimanjaro and The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber and his 1935 novel “The Green Hills of Africa.”

Key words:  Hemimgway, Africa, flora, fauna, African safari


This paper will concern itself primarily with the novel, the Green Hills of Africa and the Short story,  The  Snows  of  Kilimanjaro  for  they  provide  a  unique  insight  not  only  into  writings  by Hemingway himself but also  insight  into his  life, and  about his  views  of Africa. True at  First Light   published  Posthumously after Hemingway’s  death by his  son  Patrick is   excluded  from this discourse since this paper agrees with the latent criticism   “that the work does not measure up to the standards of the writing published during Hemingway’s life, that it was unfinished and never good enough to be published.”

Basically the question: “ what does Safari really mean?’, is thus crucial to a comprehension of the perception and dimension of Hemingway’s  understanding of it which greatly influenced how and why he wrote  about  it  .  Safari’ is  the  one  word  that  is  believed  to  have  entered  the  dictionary   of the English language through its uninhibited use by the great Ernest Hemingway. It is in  this  single,  all  evoking  and  most  consummate  Swahili  word,  that  Ernest  Hemingway’s passion for and enthrallment by the African wild is epitomized.

Inspite  of  the  many  dangers  he  faced  and  sometimes  colossal  damage  to  his  health  due  to diseases he contracted such as amoebic dysentery or accidents he had, such as the plane crash of

1954,  while  flying  over  Uganda;  Hemingway  continually  returned  to  the  continent  of  Africa from  1933  (the  year of his  first  visit)  till  around  1954  when  his  health  deteriorated  before  he eventually  shot  himself dead  in  1961.  Hemingway’s heart  was  so  thoroughly  captured  by  the Flora and Fauna of Africa that it survived four marriages and several up-and-down periods of his chequered career.

In these two literary works, Green Hills of Africa and the Snow hills of Kilimanjaro, left behind by Hemingway is his legacy of what Africa meant to him and what it could mean to the world. More than most American writers certainly, Hemingway’s contact with Africa’s flora and fauna is more close–up, personal and highly experiential. He knew, understood, and loved the African wild like most ordinary Africans would do.  In Hemingway’s African stories, which are products of his visits, he allows his readers to experience a freedom of the mind and spirit that the whole paraphernalia of advanced western culture seemed to have robbed him, which incidentally is still robbing the world. A thorough examination of these Hemingway’s African texts will reveal that Hemingway  wrote   not  just  about  the  flora  and  fauna  that  he   found  but  also  about  his involvement. His African stories can be described as “faction” or factfiction.” Thus, his stories though written with fictional characters at the same time tell the story of the writer himself.

It  is  quite  ironic  that  during  Hemingway’s  life  time,  his  short  stories  about  his  African experiences  received  much  more  acclaim  than  his  novel  The  Green  Hills  of  Africa. This  was probably due to  the  fact that at that time, the short  stories  were seen  as much more accessible than the novel.  However   Bredahl and Drake (1990:202) argue for the richness and importance

of  this  largely  unread  and  misunderstood  work  which  at  previous  ‘close  readings’  has  been critiqued   as   “relatively   meaningless”   and   “trivial”   or   as   “a   disappointment”,   but   which Hemingway thought contained some of his best work. Reviewers of the period when Hemingway wrote his books, such as De Voto (1935) obviously did not agree  that The Green Hills of Africa was important when he asserts that:

Green Hills of Africa cannot compete with his work of the imagination. It is not exactly a poor book, but it is certainly far from a good one. The trouble is that it has few fine and extraordinary passages, and long parts of it are dull. And being bored  by  Ernest  Hemingway  is  a  new  experience  for  readers  and  reviewer’s alike. The queer thing is that this novelty springs from the same intense literary self -consciousness that has been a large part of the effectiveness of his books up till now.  he  kills  this  one  by  being  too  assiduously  an  experimental  artist  in prose, out to register  sensation and find the right words  for the country side and activity   and  emotion  ,  and  ,  by way  of  the  bush  and  the  camp  fires  and  the rhinocerous  dung , carry his prose to the fourth and fifth dimension  that can be gotten . He has reverted to his café’-table talk days, he is being arty, and Africa isn’t a good place for it.

Summarizing the text as “an unimportant book”, he concludes:

A pretty small book for a big man to write. One hopes that

this is just the valley and that something the size of ‘Death in the

Afternoon” is on the other side

Probably  one  of  the  greatest  tragedy  of  the  expletives  and  criticisms  poured  out on Green Hills of Africa upon its publication can be found in the ignorance at that time of many western  critics  about Africa, its  beauty and what it had to offer the  world; that Africa is and was the continent of the slow pace, where everything seemed to happen in the  slow  motion,  is  without  doubt.  These  critics  did  not  take  into  consideration  the efforts of Hemingway to project the rhythm of the continent through his depiction of the moderate tempo of the flora and the fauna. This probably accounts for the allegations of dullness labeled against the text.

That Africans unlike those in the west were completely sold out to and dependent on nature is without doubt.   Unlike people in Africa, however, nature (especially natures of distant lands) is something many people in the West do not find worthy of being a subject for literary discourse with so many social issues requiring attention. Granville Hicks suggests this when he says “after a  good  deal  of thinking  about  why  the  book  is  dull,  the  only  reason  I  can  see  is  its  subject- matter…” (32)

It  is  precisely  what  this  early  critics  consider  the  weakness  of Green  Hills  of  Africa  that  this papers now considers its strength. It then follows that the book would require a measure of deep intellectual  introspection  to  be  comprehensible,  an  assignment  or  task  that  many  early  critics were unprepared to undertake. Wilson (1935) submits that:

one of the things which strikes us  most   and  which  depresses  us   as  we  read Green Hills of Africa   is the apparent drying up in Hemingway of his interest in his  fellow  human  beings.  Animals can be  made  extremely  interesting:  but  the animals  in  this  book  are  not  interesting.  Almost the only thing we hear about them is that Hemingway wants to kill them. (41)

However, Wilson misses the apparent fact that the novel is not just about the animals; it is about the relationship between the animals in their natural habitat, having the flora as food and trying to avoid becoming food for man. The story is basically about the relationship between man and nature, how man changes nature by damaging it and how nature adapts to man.

Perhaps at this juncture one would wish to agree with these critics that Hemingway sort of fails to translate his enthusiasm for the flora and fauna of the African continent into a more invitingly- attention-holding-text,  which  would  have  graciously  completed  his  environmental  endeavour. What this implies is that many critics agree that the work has been misunderstood but many are also in agreement that this particular text – The Green Hills of Africa must be re-appraised. It is very  important  to  state  early  enough  that  this  re-appraisal  can  only  be  properly  done  if  it  is carried out examining the strong points and the weakness of each section of the text side by side or against the background of what obtains in the African wild in actual reality.

Hemingway enjoyed hunting big game animals (like the lion) on foot and not only did he fill his stories with the images of exotic animals such as Lion , Eland, Antelope and Zebra, he also filled his  stories  with  the  primal  thrill  he  experienced  during  hunting  expeditions  in  the  African

savannah  and  landscape.  In  “Green  Hills  of  Africa,”  especially,  Hemingway  explores  the dynamics of the relationship between the hunter and the hunted as a paradigm of the relationship that exists, even though  at a higher and  more subtle  level, between humans  in normal society. Every hunter seeks a prey, and the interval between the periods of waiting for the prey to appear and launching at the prey could be the most excruciatingly painful of periods. There is also the empathy which the hunter shares with the hunted. Nowhere else in the world, Hemingway seems to surmise from his writings, can and is this lesson better learnt than in the wild of Africa , where continual  survival  and  the  need  to  maintain  a  curiously  high  instinct  in  that  regard  is  of paramount importance .

Why did Hemingway love Africa or did he? Or was Africa just an outpost for the expression of a bestial  nature  that  the  western  world  provides  little  room  for  nor  was  willing  to  encourage? Some  critics  such  as  Nadine  Gordimer  (Goldberg  :1999)  asserts  that  rather  than  celebrate Hemingway  perhaps  we  should  as  Africans  really  vilify  him  as  the  western  media  has  done especially in their assessment of his book The Green Hills of Africa. We are not in a position in this paper to enter into such a judgmental mode and would leave this to the assessment of others.

Animals are hunted throughout  the  world.  In  North  America,  animals  such  as  deer,  elk,  bear, pronghorn,  caribou,  rabbit,  squirrel,  duck,  goose,  pheasant,  and  wild  turkey  can  be  found  in sufficient huntable numbers. Among the animals hunted in Asia are elephant, tiger, wild sheep, deer, bear, rabbit, waterfowl, and  pheasant.  African  safari-hunting offers  opportunity to  bag  a diversity  of  game:  Cape  buffalo,  elephant,  lion,  antelope,  and  duck  and  other  wild  fowl. European hunters generally go out for wild boar, fox, red stag, rabbit, and various game birds. For instance, Jaguar, peccary,  deer, duck, dove, and  turkey are  popular quarry  in  Central  and South  America.  This implies  that  it  couldn’t  simply  have  been  just  the  need  to  hunt  that motivated Hemingway’s visits to and portrayals of Africa in his stories, but rather a connection, perhaps in a spiritual sense to the essence and beauty of a continent long forgotten and neglected by the rest of the civilized world.

Much  more  than  any  other  fictional  or  non–fictional  text  in  American  literary  canon  we  are espoused to a flurry of activities of animals of the fauna in the African landscape: animals such

as  the kudu bull  and cows, guineas, hyena, lion, rhino, green-wood pigeons, monkeys, buffalo etc. Anthony Burgess (1999) in giving us a picture of what transpires in Pauline’s (Hemingway’s third wife referred to by the natives as Mama piga Simba) involvement in the hunt in Green Hills of Africa says “Pauline was the right sort of wife to have, for she was very willing to go with him to Africa,  there  to  shoot  at  wild  beasts”  (52).  An index  of  Hemingway’s  enthrallment  with Africa’s game and hunting made him a queer person and even seemed to have been one of the reasons for his rather unstable marriages and family life, Burgesses’ accounts seem to suggest.

There is a sense in which Africa meant for Hemingway the perfect ground for the expression of man’s supremacy and superiority over nature especially animals. Thus Hemingway’s naming of all the animals he saw, hunted or wanted to hunt is a very significant dimension to his writing. Through  this  means,  Hemingway  embarks  on  species  and  animal  type  identification  and inadvertently adds to the stock of knowledge about the animals / fauna that exists in the African wild. Animals such as Leopards, tickbirds, deers, tse-tse flies, elks, elephants, zebras, gazelles, ducks, ibises, geeses, flamingoes, antelopes, Oryx, impala, eland are mentioned quite often in the texts. This specie identification is meant both as a hunter’s manual information and as a means of documenting the importance of these fauna. The importance of the flora lay in its significance as a provider of the terrain in which the hunt takes place. The type of flora determines to a large extent the type of game that would be present or available for the hunt.

While  some  like Love  (1987) have said that the attraction of Africa  for Hemingway is  simply that  it provides him  with  a place to  kill, one  would  wish  to  argue  that  Hemingway, as  clearly shown in The Green Hills of Africa, was probably way ahead of his time in understanding that for Africa, the capacity to maintain a balance in the ecosystem requires that certain animals be culled from time to time. The reason being that once there are more animals than there is flora for them to eat, there would be an eco–imbalance. This justifies Hemingway’s insistence that the killing  of  some  of  these  animals  is  necessary  to  maintain  a  balance  in  the  ecosystem  (Sean Hemingway:  xiv).  One question  that  sometimes  bounces  through  the  mind,  sometimes  most uncomfortably is – could Hemingway then be regarded as a conservationist or was he simply a sadist. And was that why critics decided to ‘kill’ The Green Hills of Africa? Perhaps,  because it was  in  all  proportions  non-stereotypical,  a  novel  about  big  game  hunting  which  eventually

becomes  an  avenue  for  the  expression  of  misogynist  feelings  or  even  racism  that  eventually colour  the novel.

In Hemingway’s safari stories, especially The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber and The Snows of Kilimanjaro, primitive nature accentuates the proximity of death cutting through in the process the pretenses and lies of civilized life, thus forcing men to confront the truth about themselves – especially about their generally unmanly response to women. Harry in The Snows of Kilimanjaro finally absolves his wife of blame for his failure in life as he lay dying when he


She shot very well this good, this rich bitch, this kindly caretaker and destroyer of his talent. Nonsense. He had destroyed his talent himself. Why should he blame this woman because she kept him well? (42)

Or as we find in this exchange between Macomber and Margot in The Short happy Life of

Francis Macomber:

“there wasn’t going to be any of that. You promised there wouldn’t   be.” “Well, there is now,” she said sweetly.

“You said if we made this trip that there would be none of that. You promised.” “Yes, darling. That’s the way I meant it to be. But the trip was spoiled yesterday. We don’t have to talk about it, do we?”  (37)

In Hemingway’s African stories, man comes to terms with his mortality and the mortality of all men through his presentation of the hunt.   The death of the prey pre-figures the death of man. The emptiness that man goes through forces the question that lies deep within the heart of each man; what does life mean? Just as the animals are prey for the hunters, so is man a prey to death from which there is no escape.

Hemingway’s  reference  to  one  of  the  trackers  with  him  as  having  “a  bald  black  skull  and Chinese  hairs”  (1)  in  Green  Hills  of  Africa  is  an  attempt  to  fuse  Africa  with  Asia  from  a dimension  and  perspective  of  two  continents  which  as  at  that  time  were  undergoing  various levels of development and growth. Why one would wonder why Hemingway did not associate the  bald  black  skull  with  an  European  setting;  whether  this  statement  by  Hemingway  serves derogatory or patronizing purposes  is  better left  to  individual  assessments. Indeed, Whitley in

Race  and  Modernity  asserts  that  “Hemingway  like  Roosevelt  exhibited    feelings  of  white superiority in  their treatment of African  primitivism  and suggests  that their views of Africa is imperialistic and represents a time of ‘escape from modernity” (18) especially European.

The use of the word lesser and greater in the description of certain species of animal for example the Kudu* is very significant to our grasp of Hemingway’s romance with the African flora and fauna.  The  use  of  these  two  words  underlines  Hemingway’s  quantification  of  what  would amount to a hunting achievement in the fauna of Africa. If he got the greater Kudu for instance, it was  more of an  achievement  than if he had shot the lesser Kudu. Through  the use of words such as lesser and greater, Hemingway also greatly attempts a distinguishing of the African wild game and its hunt.

Giving us a peep into the state of his mind on one of his safari’s to Africa, Hemingway in Green Hills of Africa says “feeling the cool wind of the night and smelling the good smell of Africa, I was altogether happy”(6). The use of the word ‘good’ presupposes or even assumes that there is a part of the continent that is off-course bad, and it suggests that it is in an attempt to avoid this aspect of the continent  which  Hemingway considered  as  the  ‘bad  ‘ part, that he  refrains  from describing or interacting so much  with the locals or with even developing in his text any major character with an African background in especially in the Green Hills of Africa.

However, while it seems to be great to focus on the flora and fauna of the African continent, the exclusion of the people  of the  flora and  the fauna is  a weakening factor  for these  books. This might not have been so if Hemingway had captured the essence of the African man which most critics did not seem to be aware of; and that is that basically, the black African is a communal being, rarely acting alone and that his possession of an individual nature or individuality does not in  any  way  give  him  room  to  promote  himself  or  herself  entirely  above  the  community. Hemingway  reflects  little  on  this  understanding  by  focusing  on  the  actions  of  his  characters rather than on their persons.

One question that seems to be begging for answers was whether or not Hemingway was a racist or whether at one point or the other in his African campaign, Hemingway manifested any form

of racism  or encouraged  it. Tyler  Lisa’s  speculation  on  the  extent of Hemingway’s  racism  as evidenced in his stereotypical depictions of the native Africans and his changed attitudes towards race in his later novels ( Larson: 359), where he is clearly more sensitive to race issues, only adds to,  rather  than  put  this  controversy  to  rest.  Perhaps  these  racist  accusations  might  have  been occasioned  by  Hemingway’s  goal  to  create  a  literary  landscape  that  defined  the  pattern  of  a month’s  action—captured  in  an  artistic  manner  with  only  brief  glimpses  of  Africa’s  native inhabitants.

In  the  Green  Hills  of  Africa  the  constraints  of  time  is  also  given  adequate  consideration.  In Africa the greatest constraint to game hunting is time. Game does not make itself unnecessarily vulnerable  to  and  for  hunting.  It is  this  extrapolation  of  time  that  limits  the  extrapolation  of sadistic tendencies that could generate statements such as this:

He made a beautiful shot on that leopard, you know.

you don’t want them killed any cleaner than that. Let it quiet down again. (108)

The metaphor of the hunter and the hunted is thus pre-delineated in a transverse relationship and is firmly established in Gren Hills of Africa. In a sense, we all, Hemingway seems to be saying are  “game”  hunting  “game.”  Green  Hills  of  Africa  unlike  The  Snows  of  Kilimanjaro  is  a reflective  text.  The  African  landscape  in  Green  Hills  of  Africa  thus  becomes  a  basic  tool  for deconstructing the American literary landscape. It is through this text more than any other that we  see  Hemingway attempt a placement or a de-canonization of certain  writers  such  as Rilke; Joyce;  Heinrich  Mann;  and  of  certain  works  such  as  Ulysses  as  well  as  the  elevation  and validation  of others  such  as  Mark Twain’s  Adventures  of Huckleberry  Finn  and  Henry James The Ambassadors.

It is  quite  relevant to point out here  the  importance of Peter L. Hays’ Ernest Hemingway  as  a contribution  to  our  unravelling  of  the  Green  Hills  of  Africa.  His  assertion  that  the  synergy between hunting and writing might be one of the things that Hemingway attempts to accomplish in prose  style  seems  controversially bizarre  but  literarily  relevant. This is  the  point  that  Hays attempts to make. Even though he later further insinuates that the book is:

garrulous and vapid. And controversially bizarre in its prose we get the sense of his criticism and perhaps do not really get the sense or the point of  the  connection  which  he  has  forged  between  two  arts:  the  art  of writing and the art of hunting. (32)

Bredahl seems to explain the same point but couched in a different language, when he says that Green Hills “results from the effort to push beyond the strictly mental in order to ask about an individual’s creative energy in relation to those same energies in its environment.” He also reads the narrative  as  the narrator’s  journey toward  “physical and creative  health”  and  places  Green Hills within its own genre since it defies the traditional categories of fiction and autobiography (20).  But  in  contrast  to  Bredahl  one  would  wish  to  say  that  what  Hemingway  seems  to  have attempted to do was to determine how much of an individual’s creative energy has the latitude to find expression within the space provided by an environment policed by the energies of nature.

Gajdusek (28-29) in his article traces the elaborate pattern of Christian references and allusions that underlie the hunt throughout the book.  For example, Gajdusek attempts to equate the taking of  the  heavy  heads  back  to  camp  by  the  old  man,  M’Cola,  and  Hemingway  as  a  parody  of Calvary, with each of the men representing a surrogate Christ and contended that in the book a new   type   of   religion,   founded   on   brotherhood   and   bonding   with   nature,   must   replace conventional Biblical authority, and that it is a grave and dangerous attempt to read into the text rather than read through the text. That Hemingway sets out to encourage a bonding with nature by writing a book that can be classified only by itself as fiction and/ as autobiography, is without doubt. What is however doubtful is whether Hemingway ever sought even in the least to equate himself with the Christ figure.   That he made allusions to and references to Christianity would doubtless be because that was the repertoire of traditions and perspectives to which he was aware and exposed. Moreover it is evident that the parallelism is quite weak and probably not plausible. What can be said to be clear from these texts is that life involves sacrifices and each individual must make his to find his or her own salvation.

So perhaps it is fitting to say that Life is not about happy endings, even when the story is titled the short happy life of Frances Macomber. Infact the paradox of the title clearly points to this. That sense of “shortness” also carries the sense of despair that makes life quite unhappy perhaps

not for the victim of life but for those his loved ones who had to sit around and watch him go. This is probably why Missent concludes that Hemingway’s narrative strategies defy all attempts to bring a satisfactory resolution to the ambiguous ending (197).

In two  separate  articles, Putnam comments on the pastoral vision  in Green Hills of Africa and suggests that there is a loss of the pastoral experience and the pastoral, visionary landscape. This loss of experience according to Putnam is due to the manifest urgency of the hunt. However put, it bares reminding also, that it is the hunt that ultimately provides the basis for the final catharsis of the text; what she calls in “memory grief and the terrain of desire” the “tragic search for redemption” (99). The apparent conflicts in the mind of the writer of the Green Hills of Africa is played  out  in  nature  and  manifest  in  the  relationship  of  the  fauna  to  the    flora  and  in  the relationship  of  man  to  both  the  flora  and  the  fauna.  The  green  vegetation  and  savannah grasslands provide for the animals all the luxuriant “meat” for their daily sustenance and increase in numbers.

Strychacz Thomas argues that in Green Hills “metaphors of food and corresponding processes of digestion   and   excretion   articulate   Hemingway’s   fears   about   irresponsible   and   wasteful consumption.” He further argues that “scholars should in fact be reading Hemingway’s prose on Africa  as  a  rhetorical  performance  in  light  of  the  novel’s  basic  themes  of  exploitation  and consumption” (39). Basically the fauna exploits the flora, and man exploits the fauna. His levels of  exploitation  due  to  consumption  is  played  out  amongst  human’s  as  well;  the  weak  being exploited  by  the  strong.  The  manifestation  of  this  level  in  nature  is  an  anti–thesis  to  its manifestation  among  men.  This  paper  will  certainly  agree  with  Thomas  when  he  queries  the lamentations of earlier critics about/on the rhetorical excesses of The Green Hills of Africa and agree with him more importantly about the need to take another look at Hemingway’s rhetorical strategies in Green Hills and how it could function as a tool for the re-evaluation of the nature of waste itself.

However nature provides much more than that, it also provides animals with the atmosphere to be protected. In feeding the animals nature becomes the primary source of living existence, man the secondary source and man the tertiary source of life. This three form a chain that ensures not

just  the continuity of the  flora and the  fauna but also of man  himself. Hemingway’s  ability to figure this out at the time he did is perhaps significant in several ways. One, through his narrative we understand that eco-balance can only be achieved by two dual levels of the hunt; the first has to do with animals hunting animals, which is not emphasized much in the text, while the second has to do with man hunting animals and animals hunting man, and at the second level the former much  more the case than  the  latter. Consequently, Mandel echoes  Voeller’s  “He  Only Looked Sad the Same Way I Felt” when she suggests that there is a “natural connection and sameness between human and animal,” reflected in Hemingway’s compassionate treatment of animals he hunts  which enables us  trace  Hemingway’s  evolving attitudes  toward trophy-hunting in Green Hills of Africa, “The  Short Happy Life  of Francis  Macomber: An  African  Story,” and  True at First Light.

That there is constantly something more triumphant than a trophy, than what we already possess speaks  about  the  essence  of manhood  being not the  ability of physical performance  alone  but rather  the   innate   latent  capacity  for  expressing   his   individuality.  Thus   in   “reconsidering Hemingway’s primitivism” to borrow the phrase from Glen A. Love, in Green Hills of Africa we can safely describe it as a concerted, rigorous battle against the natural environment for which he has a deep-seated soulish attachment and his own mortality.  If animals are hunted not for food, then apparently it is a pointer to man’s wasteful disposition towards nature. And in thus doing presents man as the real predator to man’s continued existence with and in natures’ God given environment.

The  accusation  that  Hemingway ignores  the  African  character completely in  some  quarters  or that  he  gives  it  insufficient  attention  in  others  is  simply because  earlier critics  seem  to  fail  to understand the mission of Hemingway in his African stories, especially the Green Hills of Africa. Hemingway’s  failure  to  validate  western  perception  of  the  African  personality  perhaps  also accounts for the rejection of the Green Hills of Africa as lacking verisimilitude. However Jordan, Edwina contends in her “Early 20th Century Writers in Africa” that Hemingway’s descriptions of the Kikuyu people dispel the stereotypical image of the noble African savage


Africa’s  flora  and  fauna occupy a critical place  in  Hemingway’s  literary and  critical  journey. Through  it,  he  contextualizes  his  own  personal  struggles  and  man’s  struggle  for  survival  in general. Against  a background  of negative press,  his  stories  on  Africa  have  resurged  and  thus deserve the critical attention which this paper has offered.  This paper thus creates an opportunity against the back drop of his engagement with Africa’s  flora and fauna for a more sympathetic consideration of Hemingway’s  depiction of Africa and Africans considering the  circumstances and  the  period  under  which  Hemingway  wrote.  Other  questions  for  which  answers  might  be sought in future essays would include whether or not his enthrallment with Africa eventually had something to do with why he eventually took his own life; whether indeed  Africa was the cause dejure for his death.

Works Cited

Axel Carl Bredahl, Susan Lynn Drake, William Ronald Robinson.  Hemingway’s Green Hills of Africa  as  Evolutionary  Narrative:  Helix  and  Scimitar.   Lewiston,  NY:   Edwin  Mellen Press, 1990

Burgess, Anthony. Ernest Hemingway. London: Thames & Hudson, 1999

De Voto, “Bernard review of the Green Hills of Africa” Saturday Review of Literature, 26th

October, 1935

Gajdusek, Robert.  “A Brief Safari into the Religious Terrain of Green Hills of Africa.”  North

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Goldberg, Carey. “Hemingway Gets a Kick In a Kickoff” New York Times, April 14, 1999. Hays, Peter L.  Ernest Hemingway.  New York:  Continuum, 1990

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Hicks, Granville. “Hemingway: The Complexities That Animated the Man.” Saturday Review of

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