Wednesday, April 07, 2021 (20 days until April’s full “Pink Moon”)

I’ve always been a reader, grew up following mostly male writers, didn’t become introduced to modern women writers before discovering Ernest Hemmingway. My first reading of his work (I forget which one) set me back on my heels. The writing, clean, specific, and sparse but powerful, re-set my standards for “good writing”.

After my eyes had opened, I searched for other writers using sentences that seem sparse, but create impact. One of my favorites was the Southern writer, William Faulkner. There were others excellent, too, who represented the Harlem Renaissance, James Baldwin and Zora Neal Hurston, among others.

Soon I discovered Twentieth Century women writing in styles sparse and impactful. Initially topping my list were Jean Rhys and Tillie Olson.

This ever growing pursuit of fine writing I attribute to having read Hemmingway. He was a genius and brilliant writer, whose novels and stories deserved every accolade they achieved. Like many others interested in writing well, I studied his sentences and story structures.

Other than his writing skills, I can’t stand Hemmingway. My feelings are refreshed by the now-streaming Ken Burns television series, “Hemmingway”. Aside from being a writing genius, Hemmingway was a bully, a drunkard, an unabashed slaughtered of African wild animals, and a needy womanizer.

I hesitate to add this, but as much good as Theodore Roosevelt did for us all by establishing America’s public lands, his persona otherwise reminds me of Hemmingway. It was no accident that Hemmingway’s hero was Theodore Roosevelt.

Both got away doing “manly things”, before public consciousness grew to today’s levels. Nowadays we worry about the environment, its wasting resources and disappearing species. We dislike those who poach and plunder.

Maybe it’s wrong to apply today’s standards to yesterday’s heroes. Can’t help it though. I had to cringe physically and squint my eyes to avoid witnessing Hemmingway’s now-terrible “sports-killing activities”. In the Burns telling, besides a viewer having to see the fun of slaughtering gorgeous wild animals, try watching as bulls are slaughtered by a human dancer who’s surrounded by protective teams of humans.

If my writing is readable, has value and impact, I owe much to having read Hemmingway. After writing now about him, maybe I’ll revisit old favorites, “The Sun Also Rises” and “For Whom The Bell Tolls”. I’d read in a modern light, I’d re-think the meanings that might underlie his sentences. Maybe I’d even manage cut the man some slack.

Dear Friends: “New wine in old glasses”, or views over time altered by experience and learning. Diana

One thought on “Papa

  1. Dave and I watched most of the first installment last night. Ran out of time but certainly found it interesting. I recently read a book THE PARIS WIFE about his early years with first wife Hadley. Yes, a very complicated man. I’m looking forward to the rest of this series. Like you, I read most of his books long ago. May have to check some out again. I’ve never idolized him, sensing the troubled and cruel side of him I guess.

    Sent from my iPhone



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