Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Hemingway and writing.

Good Day:

I just finished reading a volume of Hemingway's Nick Adams stories. I had read the stories years ago, but as is typical of an old man, I had forgotten most of them.

After reading the stories I am almost thankful of a porous memory. Hemingway's writing style is perhaps good in some instances, but to me he belabors every descriptive sentence, plus he is stingy with his use of commas and apparently abhors a semicolon. One page in one of Hemingway's books or stories might consist of dozens of sentences, when the story would not be harmed by the judicious use of a few commas.

There is also the fact, that in describing , for instance, a shirt, by the time he finishes, the reader will know the color of the shirt, the cut, how it hangs on one's body, the weight of the material, it's number of pockets and buttons, where the cotton was grown, what the woman looked like who wove the thread, what the thread count was and on and on inexhaustibly. I say these things with the full irony of knowing that a less-than-writer such as myself probably will be thought to have a lot of Gall in criticising a successful Novelist when the critic (mineselluf) is obviously not much of a writer. This reminds me of a saying that I think I read once, but might just as well be something I made up i.e. "Owning a hundred hammers don't make you a Carpenter". In Hemingway's case, and entirely in my opinion only, owning a typewriter doesn't make you a writer.

Now I should hasten to say that millions of people would disagree with what I have written about this legendary writer, but as far as I am concerned, the only Book that E.H. ever wrote that I could read in enjoyment, and without criticism, was"The Old Man and the Sea ", which story line lent itself to lengthy descriptive prose.

The rest of his writing, when compared to any one of a multiplicity of Authors I have enjoyed, is not all that great. Hemingway seemed to love anything Masculine in the extreme, such as Bullfighting, but had so many potholes in his life to serve to give lie to much of his writing.

Hemingway had the public image (which he cultivated) of a bold, brave, strong, hairy-chested great hearted Knight, but he never mastered the art of staying married, or in the end, of enduring pain.

Some people would hasten to mention the fact that suicides seem to run in the Hemingway blood line.

His father took his own life, as did three of Hemingway's siblings and his Grandaughter Margaux. In addition his son, Gregory, died after the turn of the 21st century as a Transsexual, so perhaps the main thing that ran in the line was mental illness.

Hemingway himself was described by one of his former wives as being sick and delusional at the time he killed himself. Throughout Hemingway's works the theme of death being a "gift" is repeatedly used, and in my opinion, is allegorical (or perhaps not, what do I know?)

At any rate, Hemingway should be the subject for any course of American Literature, and let the student form his own opinion of the writer, as I have done.

Now I should say I am adding this part of this post as a postscript, if you will. Upon reflection (which seems to happen to me all the time) I think this addition will benefit the post..
I perhaps sounded unkind and perhaps too quick to speak, on the subject of suicide and mental illness. As regards mental illness, just about everyone has one or another form of this condition, to a greater or lesser degree, sometime in their life, and there is no shame in our confessing this. The shame is, in not getting help when it is available, and letting the disease lead you to an unwise decision or act. I did not mean to sound judgemental, but I probably did, and I shouldn't have. The point I poorly tried to make was that Hemingway's life gave lie(s) to his writings. He lived his life in an entirely different fashion than his protagonists, in most cases. He abused his wives (4) his children and his liver, so consequently he died sad, delusional and alone. Sad.
yr obt svt.


1 comment:

JT said...

Only a great writer such as yourself would have the nerve to critize Hemingway. Great Post. I hope you are in good health. I really enjoy every visit to your blog. God Bless you.