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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Happy Birthday, Ernie

birthday

Happy Birthday, Ernie

July 21, 2011 marks the 112th anniversary of Ernest Hemingway’s birth. I thought it appropriate to comment on his life, his work, and his much-maligned persona.

Let’s begin with the latter. Ernest Hemingway grew up in a different era, with his unique set of human problems. Not only was his upbringing and genetic background suspect, but the 1920s was the height of 20th century male Chauvinism. As a result, the misguided youth that was Ernie grew to approach women in a manner inappropriate in modern circles. I do not celebrate that quality.

I do, however, appreciate his zest for life. He was not one to speak the word can’t. As a result, I adopted his adventurous spirit in my lifetime, and it has served me well. For this, I appreciate the man.

Finally, most people who express disdain for Hemingway launch ad hominem attacks upon him, but never read his work. His personality and reputation get in the way their enjoyment of his literary masterpieces. This is a shame. I celebrate them.


14 comments:

  1. JJ: You are so right, I came across a few articles of people mentioning his arrogance, alcoholism, womanizing.... Funny how those words reflect some of our so called political leaders? Alcoholism seems to standout in the acting, writing and other fine arts... maybe because the addict expresses themselves better thru the arts... The ones who put Mr. H. down makes me wonder if maybe they see a bit of him in their ownselves? The ones who find fault are the ones who see the fault in themselves, don't u think?
    When I saw the title of your post, I automatically thought you were referring to Sesame St.'s character.. lol... Ernie and Elmo were my favorites...then again Steinbeck and Hemingway run close behind or in front... :-)

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  2. KBF: I think you are right on the mark. We are very quick to expect people to understand our faults and weaknesses, and then we close our minds and hearts to others. Aside from that, no one will ever top Ernie or Elmo.

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  3. As you know, I have written several posts about artists and writers. KBF is right about the prevalence of addiction and womanizing, as well as mental illness. It is not true of ALL artists and writers, though. Mr. H may have had some issues, but he also had a vagabond spirit and it shines through in his works, and that's a good thing. The sensitivity of artists to their world can spell trouble for many of them. However, it does not make them any less gifted.

    In regard to KBF's comment on politicians, I believe their arrogance stems from a sense of power they wish to obtain. Their addictions and womanizing I believe to be related to their belief that the power they think they have gives them the right to do whatever they want. Unfortunately, none seem to learn from their peers that one cannot get away with EVERYTHING!
    If I were stranded on a desert island with only two books, one by Hemingway and one by an infamous politician, I would naturally choose Hemingway, and toss the other into the sea.

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  4. Just stopping by to say hello JJ, i have never read any of his work. Enjoy your week, dee

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  5. Well-considered post, sir.

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  6. Well said JJ! Everyone should be celebrated for the goos things that they do, instead of only seeing the bad. Nobody's perfect! Miriam@Meatless Meals For Meat Eaters

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  7. Just stumbled across your blog, JJ. Well, we've got a few things in common - hometown of St Augustine, Writers, Ernest Hemingway & Mark Twain fans. I will say Ernie's place in Key West (which I blogged about in November 2009) smells a bit like 6 toed cat pee, other than that - the visit was worthwhile. I write YA - have 2 books out, one based exclusively in St Augie. Skydiving? As W E B Griffith would say, "Why would someone jump out of a perfectly functioning airplane?"
    Good Luck. DE (aka JaxPop)

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  8. People are complex and we have to look at them in the context of their times and circumstances.

    Love the quote in the above comment about jumping out of a plane!

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  9. I appreciate Hemmingway's work ethic when it came to his writing. After reading "The Paris Wife", I need to take a break before I can ready anything else of his.

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  10. I have red quite bit of Hemmingway and I enjoy his writing very much. All writers need to be read in context, I think.

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  11. It is sometimes necessary to separate the personality from the talent. There are many people who are blessed with amazing gifts, but those gifts don't always come wrapped in the most wonderful packages.
    It is good to take the time to appreciate the imperfect in this world.

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  12. Hemingway is the reason Key West is in the top 10 of my "to visit" list. Not everyone can be a perfectly starched prince, right? I like the color he brought to this world. I have yet to become a big fan of his works (that bell was tolling for ME until I turned the last page), but it's getting to be about time I tried some more. What's your favorite?

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  13. Life@Cee: I have not read it yet, but please tell me why.

    David Ebright: We will definitely have to meet.

    Nicki: It is For Whom the Bell Tolls.

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  14. EG Wow: I absolutely agree.

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