Ernest Hemingway


What's this? Has the Brawny Man of Letters fallen so far out of favor with the academic world and the reading mainstream that no one thinks his work merits discussion? I know, I know, he was a brutal misogynist, the figurehead for the Great White Hunter (would we have to endure Charleton Heston if there had been no Hemingway?), and, all-around, a man who does not fit in with our brave not-so new world that can only handle male literary figures if they're cerebral bookworms (Updike, Wallace), enfants terrible (Eggers and everyone who thinks they deserve fame more than Eggers), or don't seem to exist (Pynchon, Delillo, Salinger). But, seriously folks, I would bet that even that champion male asshole Charles Bukowski has all sorts of comments posted about him.
No one still regards Hemingway as a straight-up short story genius -Short Happy Life of F. Macomber, Snows of Kilimanjaro? No one thinks 'A Farewell to Arms' isn't one of the most heartbreaking and stark depictions of love 'midst the fubble? You can even go on a rant about the anti-semiticism of 'The Sun Also Rises', or talk about the similarities between 'Old Man and the Sea' and Gabriel Garcia Marquez's short stories. Let's throw Papa a bone here.

>>By Ortho Stice   (Wednesday, 7 Jan 2004 18:39)

Give him credit , Hem could lay down a line . Rather than his chauvinism it is his lack of even a semblance of humor which diverted me from Hemingway . So deadly serious all the time . But 'A clean well lighted place' is one of the finest short stories I've read .

>>By goddog   (Thursday, 8 Jan 2004 01:29)

I read The Sun Also Rises years ago, and was surprised what a sissy the hero was. I remember there was a vague reference about him losing his jewels in the war, but that would not account for how sissified it came off to me. Even the whole bullfighting thing was fruity. I had heard Hemingway was a badass. Even in The Snows Of Kilimanjaro the Hero sure whined a lot. (I thought the Gregory Peck movie was terrible. If I remember right Peck's character lived!) The Old Man and the Sea was good. OK, I never read the Old Man and the Sea. I saw the Spencer Tracy movie. I dug it.
A friend showed me some war correspondence Ernest wrote and THEN I understood why he's considered a badass.
I don't understand how exactly, but he sure lost his mind towards the end of his life. His handlers had to watch him close. He kept trying to kill himself by walking into airplane propellers and stuff.
So he was a mysoginist, eh? The few women characters I remember from the few Hemingway books I've read seemed like strong-willed independent women. Sure he was sexist, but mysoginist?

>>By Seward3   (Monday, 12 Jan 2004 02:55)

i have no idea what writer is in and what writer is out, and i am always searching for a readable writer who speaks truth to me and my sensibilities. this search, of late, has become more difficult, (I am open to any suggestions about any writer whose writings stir the soul). but the writer who i keep coming back to, the writer whose honesty about himself and whose honesty about his own flawed manhood; the writer, who even when he is lying to himself, cannot lie to his art, (which is to say, to you, his reader) , that writer is papa hemingway. he has it all. brevity, bare emotions, strong judgments, brevity. he does not so much write as thrrow punches, (both to attack and defend). and how does he do it? by achieving one good sentence at a time. and how is that good sentence achieved? by one good word. ah, the search for the right word, the mot juste. and hemingway found the right word most of the time, but what he could not find was peace within himself. this restlessness and fearlessness and cowardice and energy , and all this hunting down of himself made for great reading, but, apparently, also laid bare his own self-loathing. here was writer so full of self-loathing that the suicide most of us toy with, he pursued in earnest. (do I Pun? very then, I pun.) in the end, (and in hemingway's case it was a sad suicidal end) there is still no more powerful putter of word to sentence and sentence to story then our mr. hemingway. Papa, you went 14 rounds with the heavyweight writers of history, if only you hadn't thrown in the towel, you could have gone the distance. And no matter how badly they may have beaten you up, you could have, you should have survived to write another day. but then, were you the writer who could not run away? or did you run away?

>>By pestlequix   (Sunday, 25 Jan 2004 03:07)

Hemingway, what can I say? He was a man's man
in a world when political correctness didn't exist.
A Moveable Feast is one of the best books I've
ever read. As was The Old Man in theSea. If you
ever get the chance to go marlin fishing (as my
grandfather used to), don't pass it up. He was who
he was, and he made no apologies for it.Say what
you will, but they just don't make men like him
anymore. He lived life on his own terms, and answered
to no one. Sinner or saint, let God be the judge.
All I know is that he was one hell of a writer.

>>By Faun   (Tuesday, 27 Jan 2004 13:27)

Are there any marlins left? I thought homsaps had killed them all. If not, we'd better get on the stick.
I am equally, if not more, interested in Ernest's personal life than his work. I understand he suffered a series of severe head injuries that possibly brought on his mental illness. (This concerns me, as I myself have broken three windshields with my head. Though my skull is hard as a rock, it is still worrisome.) Any thoughts on the relationship between Papa's repeated head injuries and ensuing madness would be welcome.

>>By Seward3   (Tuesday, 27 Jan 2004 18:26)

i had never heard about the head injuries. it does fit with the lifestyle. it's an interesting idea, although i'm not sure how or whether multiple concussions can contribute to mental depression (which is why most people swallow a bullet).
as to the sissy-tude of hemingway's hero's, i think he's just being subjective and realistic with his characters. acting macho is for the benefit of other people. even the manliest man has doubted himself and been a little reluctant to dive into a hail of bullets.
even Captain Kirk!

>>By mre   (Tuesday, 27 Jan 2004 23:30)

Oh yes, he bonked his head severely again and again. I too have never heard of anything linking head injuries to suicidal depression, but I have seen people's personalities change after bad concussions. Usually not for the better. But having suffered many head injuries myself, my judgment can't be trusted...
Are you sure about that Captain Kirk thing?

>>By Seward3   (Wednesday, 28 Jan 2004 01:29)

well... in the movies, anyway. AFTER he got himself demoted to back to captain.

>>By mre   (Wednesday, 28 Jan 2004 06:14)

I'm pretty sure there was a history of depression that ran in the men of Hemingway. There has to be some reason behind drinking as a career, never having a solid relationship, and indulging the desire to kill any living thing that might look good on one's wall. In fact, I believe his father also came to a premature end by his own hand.
What I don't buy is that his suicide was this great tragedy or, even worse, a pitiful end to a robust life. I don't see what's so wrong, religiousity aside, with Papa chewing on a shotgun. Here was a man that, by all accounts, prized his body's ample physicality as much as his mind's creative ability. Hemingway spent a lifetime fishing, hunting, traveling, drinking, screwing, writing, and generally living a stimulated life. If I were stuck in Ketchum, Ohio in the dead of winter, with both my body and mind betraying a lifetime of full use by totally breaking down, going blind and unable to take care of myself (imagine the shame of such a man's man), and all I had left was the bottle and fuzzy memories of accomplishment, I'd take the live end of a boomstick too.

>>By Ortho Stice   (Tuesday, 27 Apr 2004 00:05)

Seems to be a lot of Hemmingway worship going on in this room. He was a good writer, but a better self promoter. Poor man, in the end he was very broken.

>>By pass   (Wednesday, 5 May 2004 04:07)

In this room I feel like I'm baiting a giant tiger, but the most interesting thing about Hemmingway for me was his house. What a nutter!

>>By Celtgal   (Friday, 7 May 2004 02:01)

I've read Hemingway all my life and return to his books often. What I've always enjoyed most was his drive for clarity and truth in writing and in his life. Maybe I wouldn't have enjoyed him as a person, may I would have. Who knows? But as a writer, it's hard to find better description of life than A Moveable Feast. Or, read The Old Man and the Sea and try not to admire the man's sense of honor (skip the movie). In the end he was broken, like we all are.

>>By Alberto52   (Friday, 7 May 2004 17:26)

I just want to comment on the remarks about Hemingway being a sexist. I'm a woman and I don't feel that way. Sure, he was a Man and led a Man's life, but look at the women in the books! They are great, honest, strong and life-affirming. Just look at Pilar in Whom the bell tolls.
Well, sure he said some stuff and behaved like a sexist macho sometimes. But I think he makes more than up for that by the mostly positive potraits of his women.
What do the other women in here think about this?

>>By sunbeam   (Friday, 11 Jun 2004 02:39)

Well Sunbeam, I'm not a woman but I agree that his women characters were strong.

I've just finished reading a Farewell to Arms - a depressing ending isn't it? I liked the bit when he went AWOL thru wartime Italy and rowed to Switzerland with Catherine.

Have you noticed that Hemmingway's characters tend to say 'fine' a lot? ie I'm fine...I feel look're a fine girl...maybe it's just me.

>>By Urvan   (Wednesday, 23 Jun 2004 12:47)

The sun also rises is still my favourite book of all time along with the Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolano.

>>By hustvedt   (Wednesday, 12 Nov 2008 21:55)

The discussion board is currently closed.