A Rising Stars Task
|When I hear Jimmy Buffet sing that he's actually a pirate, but born 200 years too late, I think of Hemingway. It isn't so much that they both have Cuban and Key West connections, they do, but perhaps it was just an excellent time for writers. Perhaps if I had been born fifty years earlier, I might have had some of the experiences he had. It isn't that I would have wanted to be injured in war, but that was back in a time when men simply went to do their duty. He didn't stop there, though. With a concussion from automobile accident, he still observed the Normandy landing, although he was not ashore. Then, as a correspondent, saw the liberation of Paris, a place he had lived, and the Battle of the Bulge. He reported on action that was so close to him, he was awarded the Bronze Star. He was forty-five.
By this time, he had already penned The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms, both from personal experience in Pamplona, and his time in Italy during WWI. After reporting on the Spanish Civil War, he wrote For Whom the Bell Tolls. I think the reason these three are favorites, is that while Hemingway was inspired to write by much in his life, including his many loves, these are based on some extraordinary life experiences most of us will never have. I suppose I'll always wonder if I had lived the same life, would I be able to write from those accounts nearly as well. Probably not.
Finally, he settled down in Cuba for a few years, but it seems like a new love got him writing again, and after completing one of his lesser works, put forth what he himself described as "the best I can write ever for all of my life." It seems he was right, since the novel won him the Pulitzer Prize and was at least a portion of the reason he won the Nobel Prize in Literature. Never one to sit still very long, he embarked on an African safari, despite contracting a serious case of dysentery on the first trip. Although he got through without contracting a disease, he nearly died in a plane crash... twice. I do believe Hemingway may be the most accident prone author I've ever had the pleasure to read.
I believe that one can judge a writer in many ways. One is by their style, and Hemingway created the "iceberg theory" that basically means the writer's views and knowledge is the base under the water, and the written fiction above was what was left for the reader to see. It was very minimalist, and the author felt at the time he could remove almost anything from his writing. Perhaps one day I'll give it a shot, but I'm dubious of the result.
One of the other manners to measure an author is in how their work is referenced after they are no longer with us, and Hemingway committed suicide in 1961. Yet, he is referenced often in modern times. In the movie 10 Things I Hate About You, the principal female character responds to another student in class with, "Romantic? Hemingway? He was an abusive, alcoholic misogynist who squandered half of his life hanging around Picasso trying to nail his leftovers." That's pretty harsh, but I do believe his writing evokes strong emotions in readers. In Silver Linings Playbook, our male protagonist finished reading A Farewell to Arms, screams, "What the fuck?!" Then promptly throws the book through a window. Granted, his character is portrayed as schizophrenic, but not everyone likes a sad ending. Finally, in one of my favorite scenes from City of Angels, one of the angels gives a woman A Movable Feast. Later, they discuss the book, and it is a beautiful testament to Hemingway and his style of writing that seems to always include the sense of taste. I think that one I can handle, and I was thankful for the insight, and it will not be forgotten.
(WC - 680)