In Our Time (First Edition) by Ernest Hemingway
In Our Time is the first collection of short stories by American author Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961). The first edition of this work was published in 1924 by Three Mountains Press, Paris, and a longer edition in 1925 by Boni & Liveright, New York. Background
Hemingway wrote these stories as a young writer in his early twenties. At the time he was living in Paris, where he got to know other brilliant modernist writers such as Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, F. Scott Fitzgerald and James Joyce.
Largely working as a journalist, after a shocking loss of all of his writing in 1922, he either re-wrote or wrote anew 18 pieces, mostly vignettes, that became the short story collection, in our time. This was first published as a 32 page work featuring what became several well-known Hemingway stories. This work introduced Hemingway’s unique style, and led to an extremely successful writing career.
The vignettes were transposed for the American publication In Our Time (1925), incorporated as inter-chapter pieces, re-written as short stories, and linked together.
Plot, Characters, Themes
The short stories were based around contemporary news and war experiences: largely taken from Hemingway’s own experiences, much as his first novel that followed this, The Sun Also Rises.
The better-known stories from the collection include Indian Camp, The Battler, The Doctor and the Doctor’s Wife. The stories are supposedly all interlinked thematically, presenting not a collection but a connected chronicle, each vignette reflecting the others. They explore modernist theories such as Ezra Pounds Imagism and T. S. Eliot’s detachment. The characters can be seen as elements of Hemingway himself, doppelgangers, safe vehicles through which to examine the writer’s own experiences.
The stories were noted for their implicit psychological examination of the characters, and the sparse language that presented Hemingway as a pioneer within American Modernism.
Ernest Hemingway’s influence of both American and modernist literature was widespread. In 1954 he was the recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature.
See main article: Ernest Hemingway rare books and memorabilia
Notable auction sales and collecting tips
The first Paris edition was shorter at 32 pages, and only 170 copies were published, making it extremely rare and desirable to collectors. The title words are not capitalised: in our time, whereas the later American edition does capitalise them: In Our Time.
The first Paris edition (1924,Three Mountains Press) was sold by Christie’s New York for for £16,100 in October 1995, $35,250 in April 2001, and for $101,575 in October 2002.
The same was sold by Sothebys New York for $51,000 in December 2003, and $321,600 in April 2004.
First edition copies are worth infinitely more in their original cloth bindings and dust jackets, especially when these are in good condition.