The image and the shadow of Ernest Hemingway. What psychic jackals stalked the dazzling public persona? …
Of course, the real importance of the Hemingway image has been its effect on literary history. it appeared at exactly the right time: in the early 1920′s when a new generation of American writers was coming forward. Although its members were almost of the same age and strongly shared a feeling of being different from older persons, as late as 1925 they still lacked a collective name, a set of beliefs jointly held, and a code of literary conduct. It should be note again that Hemingway gave them the name, after seizing upon a remark by Gertrude Stein’s: “You are all a lost generation,” she had told him. The younger men accepted the name, which Hemingway himself soon disowned, but they were looking for things that would make them a generation in spirit as well as in biological fact. They especially needed a sort of older brother on whom they could model themselves as a step for each of them toward achieving a separate identity.
Hemingway gave them the older brother too, in heroes like Nick Adams and Jake barnes, who quickly became confused with his personal image, and his stories gave them a code of conduct. Like Hemingway, the other new writers would project themselves as being simple, unaffected, tough-spoken, versed in the language of boxing and the bullring, contemptuous of outsiders- especially of those who wrote for money- and brave in an uncomplaining way while suffering from the secret wound.
Here one has to make another distinction of age. The Hemingway image had an effect on some writers of his own age group, notably Fitzgerald and Faulkner, maybe a greater effect in the latter case than has actually been generally attributed, but Cummings, Wilson, Dos Passos, Hart Crane, and most of the others had already shaped their literary personalities. His strongest, immediate influence was on writers, beginning with Steinbeck, who were too young to have served even briefly in the Great War. The influence continued to spread, and it is all-pervasive in the hard-boiled novelists of the 1930′s. When still younger novelists wrote about their adventures in the Second World War, they produced Hemingway dialogue and Hemingway scenes of action. Often their heroes seemed to be reflections of Robert Jordan among the Spanish guerrillas or of Frederic Henry caught up in the retreat from Caporetto. The Hemingway image was more vivid for them than their own adventures in a different war. ( to be continued)…
(see link at end)…There’s a lot there to pick apart in the man: the bluster, exaggerated machismo, mood swings, four marriages, alcoholism, death-wooing in the bullring, at the D-Day landing, and in bed. No small ego there. But, in all the fancy analytical footwork, it’s sometimes forgotten that, like Captain Kirk of the Starship Enterprise, Hemingway explored “strange new worlds … to boldly go where no man has gone before”. His powerfully insinuating prose practically took over the style of many young writers, including me, as did Salinger’s for a later generation. Some of Hemingway’s novels, and many beautiful short stories like “Big Two Hearted River” and “In Another Country”, will live as long as literature.
To read Hemingway afresh is to be reminded of Goya’s “The Disasters of War” aquatints and Picasso’s “Guernica”, but also of some of the great writers of the natural world like Turgenev (whom he admired) and even the gentler poets like Keats and, yes, Emily Dickinson. His physical observation of rivers, mountains, trees, animals – our place in nature – is keen, fresh and now, severely disciplined and celebratory at the same time. Despite his boastful “primitivism” – he talked to bears and claimed they talked back – and love of shooting, today he’d be on the side of the eco-angels.
After a 1935 Katrina-like hurricane killed 400 jobless, mentally-ill war veterans in a Key West, Florida work camp, where they’d been sent by President Roosevelt to rid Washington, DC of potentially radical elements, Hemingway wrote a raging “Who Murdered the Vets?” article, demanding,”Whom did (the vets) annoy and to whom was their possible presences a political danger?” Given his feeling for ordinary soldiers, I can imagine him doing the same thing today for veterans shortchanged by the military bureaucracies.Read More:http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/jun/26/ernesthemingway-fbi