Hemingway Myths Dispelled

I’m currently on an Ernest Hemingway kick, having finished For Whom the Bell Tells (1940) and The Old Man and the Sea (1951) in quick succession. The former is an amazing achievement in literary mastery that is inspiring the writing of this blog post. The latter was also immersive and enjoyable, but not really on that same level. I also have begun reading A Moveable Feast (1964) next (which I have read excerpts of before, but not the whole book).

fwtbtSomething in Hemingway’s work really speaks to me. I love the authenticity of his novels, the style, the subject matter, and yes: the toughness. I love that his protagonists are hard-nosed and critical. Salinger railed against phonies through Holden Caulfield, and it was great, but it came out sounding whiny, whereas Hemingway railed against phonies through his protagonists and it came out as heroic.

A lot of really intelligent people have an anti-Hemingway bias, which is something I guess I can understand to a point.

Maybe you have a general resentment against authors covered in high school English, whose books you read under duress. From that standpoint, my high school education failed me. I hadn’t read more than a short story or two of Hemingway’s upon entering college and didn’t realize my affinity until I read In Our Time (1925) in two English classes in the same semester. I would recommend giving him another chance, now that you’re an adult and can read books more critically.

Others protest against Hemingway’s style. The sentences are too short and simple, they say. The writing is plain Jane, too vanilla, they say. To that, I rebut with an excerpt Continue reading