Book Review: “The Snows of Kilimanjaro and Other Stories”

The book cover of Ernest Hemingway's "The Snows of Kilimanjaro and Other Stories."
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Ernest Hemingway’s “The Snows of Kilimanjaro and Other Stories” (affiliate link) is a short story collection cloaked in masculinity.

The stories cover lion hunting and boxing and other “manly” activities. And if you’re looking for strong female characters, you should move along.

There are 10 stories in “The Snows of Kilimanjaro and Other Stories.” The stories were first published in “The Fifth Column and the First Forty-Nine Stories,” which came out in 1938.

“The Snows of Kilimanjaro and Other Stories” published in 1961.

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Book Review of “The Snows of Kilimanjaro and Other Stories”

It’s accepted “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” is this book’s strongest story. I’ll not try to dissuade you that notion. In fact, some argue “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” is Hemingway’s best work. I’ll not try to dissuade you of that notion, either.

The tale is about Harry, a man dying of gangrene while on safari in Africa with his wife, Helen. Interspersed with Harry’s present predicament is memories from his past. We discover Harry’s disappointments with himself and with the life he’s now leaving.

Harry’s life is a metaphor for all, as all our lives build a level of discontentment over their duration.

As for the “Other Stories” in this collection, one in particular stands out, “The Short Life of Francis Macomber.” Here again, we’re in Africa, on safari with a man, Francis Macomber, and his wife Margot.

It’s a tale of courage. (Francis has none.) And it’s a story about characteristics and behaviors associated with being a man. In contrast to Francis’ cowardice, we have his guide, Robert Wilson’s, bravery. It’s this bravery which attracts Margot to Wilson, for eventual consequences to Francis.

Two stories outshine all others in this collection. All pieces in this book deserve attention, though. After all, you’re still reading Hemingway.

And because you’re reading Hemingway, you’ll meet male characters using weapons and enjoying sports. You’ll also meet female characters who are weak or attempting to ruin their male counterparts.

Reading these pieces in current times can leave you feeling a little disgusted. Women today can hunt and box, too, after all.

But it’s important to remember Hemingway wrote the works of “The Snows of Kilimanjaro and Other Stories” in the early 20th Century. Yes, some characters and plot points are archaic. The themes touched upon in these stories, though, hold water still today.

Select Quotes from “The Snows of Kilimanjaro and Other Stories”

Image of a passage from Ernest Hemingway's "The Gambler, the Nun, and the Radio" reading "Religion is the opium of the poor."

Image of a passage from Ernest Hemingway's "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" reading "So this was how you died, in whispers that you did not hear."

So this was how you died, in whispers that you did not hear. - From Hemingway's 'The Snows of… Click To Tweet

Image of a passage from Ernest Hemingway's "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" reading "Now he would never write the things that he had saved to write until he knew enough to write them well."

Image showing a passage from "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" by Ernest Hemingway reading "How could a woman know that you meant nothing that you said; that you spoke only from habit and to be comfortable?"

Image of a passage from "The Secret Life of Francis Macomber" by Ernest Hemingway reading "He was dressed in the same sort of safari clothes that Wilson wore except that his were new, he was thirty-five years old, kept himself very fit, was good at court games, had a number of big-game fishing records, and had just shown himself, very publicly, to be a coward."

MORE REVIEWS OF “THE SNOWS OF KILIMANJARO AND OTHER STORIES”

The Snows of Kilimanjaro and Other Stories Book Cover The Snows of Kilimanjaro and Other Stories
Ernest Hemingway
Fiction
Scribner
1995
Hardcover, paperback, Kindle, audible
160

Contains ten of Hemingway's classic stories including "The snows of Kilimanjaro," "A day's wait," "Fathers and sons," "The killers," and "The short happy life of Francis Macomber."