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The Ernest Hemingway Thread

Discussion in 'The Reading Room' started by Nathan Dodge, Jan 14, 2010.

  1. Benzadmiral

    Benzadmiral Call Me a Cab

    Here's a fun topic, if it hasn't already been touched on here. Of the actors who have played Hemingway in films or TV shows, who do you think did the best job, and why? Side thought: If no one has done EH right yet, who would you cast, and why?
  2. MikeKardec

    MikeKardec Practically Family

    I think Connery makes a good point but it's also true that many writers write to discover what they are writing about, to discover what the story wants to become. Sometimes they never get there. Sometimes they get there but what has meaning to them can't possibly translate to us. However, they also know that any story is going to bring forth the individual imaginations of their audience, that fiction is a collaboration between writer and reader. Sometimes the job is just being evocative. We shouldn't discount our own participation in this creative partnership.

    It's cool that it's in your head and you can't stop thinking about it. It's cool that Connery has some ideas. Whether they are accurate to EH's intent is interesting but far from everything. The writing is just code, it's what the soft ware within you does with it is ultimately the most important thing. That's why it feels alive.
    Tiki Tom likes this.
  3. Very well articulated Mr Kardec.
    Tiki Tom likes this.
  4. Tiki Tom

    Tiki Tom Practically Family

    Looks-wise, I thought Stacy Keach really had a pretty good resemblance to the young(er) Hemingway. George C Scott was a disappointment (granted, he played a semi-autobiographical Hemingway character, not EH himself.) But my bottom line is that I'm still waiting for a really convincing Hemingway portrayal. (Note: I have not yet seen this year's "Hemingway in Cuba" movie or the relatively recent film version about Martha Gellhorn & him in Spain, which I've "heard" is a one-dimensional axe job, so I've been avoiding it. Wonder what you think.) Now that I'm thinking about it, I DID like the Hemingway portrayal in Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris". But that was sort of a cameo. Still waiting for a great portrayal of the beauty amid all the destruction.

    Speaking of which, on a slightly different topic, I can recommend the book "Hemingway's Boat" to you, by Paul Hendrickson. After getting hooked in college on the complex subject of Hemingway's life, I found myself shying away from the newer biographies for several years as they mostly seemed like efforts of writers who were too eager to show how advanced and enlightened they were, at Papa's expense. Hendrickson's book is not a character assassination and he openly admits his fondness for EH. With that as a starting point, he has a lot of (for me) new material and I especially like how he tells stories about Hemingway's relationship with some lesser-known friends of EH --both good and bad. He also references interviews with Hemingway's kids, etc. Very good book that catches the complexities and contradictions of the man. Some warnings: It is something like 700 pages long. Also, if you don't want to know about Gigi's sad and haunted later life, skip this book. Although I found that it helped to fill in some blanks there too. Finally, the book is beautifully written. I especially enjoyed how the author brought to life the Havana of those years.
  5. MikeKardec

    MikeKardec Practically Family

    Hemingway and Gellhorn was a turd in my opinion ... good actors but with a problematic script. I always liked Islands in the Stream but I never was particularly worried about it's accuracy to any interpretation of Hemingway the man himself. He has become a sort of symbol or trope, and thus no doubt divorced from reality. In that mode I did enjoy his portrayal in Midnight in Paris. That actor, who also distinguished himself in the first season of House of Cards, can be amazing. I think he's on The Strain now but I wasn't so impressed with him there. Another, similarly fun, poke at Papa was in The Moderns; a Hemingway who is always lost in co-opting everyone he knows to be a part of the fictional world's he is building. I have to take a look at the new Hemingway movie too. Hopefully I can get it on itunes or something like it soon.

    It's amazing how the man lives on in the imagination and fiction and biography, I wonder sometimes if he's more well known for his personality, in all its conflicting glory, than the actual work he created. In my business, which also has to do with literary legacies, I spend a good deal of time struggling with the various images of authors that the public is become attached to versus their actual work. Unless given a certain amount of maintenance, the disconnect between the two can damage the ability to sell their books.

    It's amazing how people connect with THEIR personal interpretation of the author's character, turning them into an imaginary protagonist just like a character in their fiction. It's very much like the imaginary lives people project on their favorite actors, a lot of which is fiction created by their work (which they are only vaguely in control of), gossipy news (often faked) and the "performing" of their own life that the actor does to feel good, seem consistent, or because that's actually who they'd like to be. The public would be shocked if they knew what these people were really like (often very shy, passive, and inarticulate) in their actual private lives.
  6. Harp

    Harp I'll Lock Up

    Amanda Vaill's Spanish Civil War historiography, Hotel Florida offers a fairly objective accounting of Hemingway-and Martha Gellhorn.
  7. greatestescaper

    greatestescaper One of the Regulars

    I have to admit to only a mild acquaintance with Hemingway. Hemingway has been one of those authors I've always meant to read more of, never really made time for for whatever reason, or by some chance it was the neighboring English class doing a study of his works. That said I found this rather amusing: https://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/totos-africa-by-ernest-hemingway
    Bamaboots likes this.
  8. MikeKardec

    MikeKardec Practically Family

    I've always found old Hem to be a bit much, his advice to writers to have been perfected beyond his abilities by some of his contemporaries and by those who came along later (and developed their talent by taking said advice) ... it's actually kind of amazing how most of the portrayals of Hemingway play on his foibles, his tendency to be a blow-hard. Each finds some artful way of playing off it, yet also giving the guy credit at least as much as is deserved.

    Back a few years ago, when there were more Westerns being made, I used to joke that it was very difficult to write Doc Holliday badly. There's something in the character that draws out brilliant irony in every writer who attacked the character. It's the same with Hemingway. He's hard to write poorly. Though the Gelhorn movie did its best.
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2016
  9. Tiki Tom

    Tiki Tom Practically Family

    One thing is for sure, it seems like we will never run out of books about EH.
    I just read about this new one: "Hemingway at War" by Terry Mort. The reviewer says it gives details about Hemingway's WWII experiences:

    About this our author writes, “Hemingway had a talent for being at the center of important events. Those events – and some of the people connected with them – are a large part of this story. He was with the Allied landings on D-Day. He flew with the RAF on at least one bombing mission. He operated with the French Resistance -- as the Allies advanced to Paris -- and he was active during the battle for the Hurtgenwald in Germany’s Siegfried Line.” So that’s what this book is about: expanding our understanding of those events and how they affected Hemingway professionally and personally.

    World War II and Hemingway. Sounds like a lot of Loungers might be interested in this. I recall from my old Carlos Baker biography that EH witnessed D-Day from the sea but (uncharacteristically) did not go ashore; that he may have (???) tortured a German soldier for "intel" as he and an ad hoc group of resistance fighters advanced on Paris, that they were pinned down by machinegun fire at a town called Rambouillet, that he famously liberated the Ritz Bar in Paris, that he traded insults with Andre Malraux while in Paris, that --at the battle of Hurtgenwald-- he liked to stroll around during German Artillery barrages believing that, unless they were aiming specifically at YOU, no place was particularly safe or not safe. And that he became close friends with Generall Buck Lanham. (Pretty good, considering that it has been decades since I read that bio!) But WWII wasn't really the focus of the Baker bio and I always thought that WWII tends to get brushed-over a bit in most Hemingway pieces. I don't know why. Anyway, I will happily buy this latest addition to the Hemingway library.
  10. My favourite read of the year was "The Paris Wife" Not a new book, I came to it late but so glad I did. A great read about Hemingway, his first wife and his early days in Paris. It is written as fiction but the author conducted much research and gleaned much from his extensive letter writing.
  11. Benzadmiral

    Benzadmiral Call Me a Cab

    Great stuff.
  12. Tiki Tom

    Tiki Tom Practically Family

    Just finished "Hemingway at War" by Terry Mort. Not bad. The guy repeats himself a lot. Also, the book is probably 75% background (what led up to battles, strategic overview, etc.) and 25% about Hemingway's involvement. But it does definitively nail down that EH did in fact act as combatant, thereby violating the rules of being a reporter. One scene has him opening up with a Thompson submachine gun as Col. Lanham's temporary HQ in the Hurtgenwald was being attacked by a unit of Germans that had been "bypassed". Pretty hairy stuff. The author maintains that, because the 22nd Infantry Regiment was pretty much destroyed at Hurtgenwald, Hemingway was mentally effected and it contributed to his worsening periods of depression.

    Next up:

    Last edited: Mar 13, 2017
  13. A neighbor of our just came back from the Florida Keys where she saw Hemingway's house and gave the tour a big thumbs up. She said it isn't big, but tastefully done and an enjoyable tour.
  14. Tiki Tom

    Tiki Tom Practically Family

    Where do y'all stand on the question of A. E. Hotchner? He has been labeled an opportunist and accused of making a minor industry of Hemingway in the years after the author's suicide. He has also been called Ernest's truest friend; a friend who doggedly defends Papa and attempts to set things straight. I've read several of Hotchner's books and thought them pretty good. It appears that A. E. Hotchner has had a successful life and, on the face of it, doesn't need to milk his Hemingway connection. I just read Hotchner's latest book "Hemingway in Love." I guess I buy the books central premise, that Hadley was Ernest's one true love & remained so 'til the end. I also acknowledge that there is justification for skepticism regarding the long conversations between Hotch and Hem that the author quotes verbatim for pages (he claims he had tapes and took careful notes all those years ago.) All in all and on balance, however, I guess I'm leaning towards the camp that thinks that Hotchner is genuine in his dedication to his old pal. Any thoughts?
  15. Tiki Tom

    Tiki Tom Practically Family

    Happy Birthday to Ernest Hemingway. July 21st.

  16. BlueTrain

    BlueTrain Call Me a Cab

    I've not read much of anything by Hemingway. Am I missing something? Don't really read much fiction, anyway. But I have my favorites. To me, a good author is one who writes something you enjoy reading, no matter what the subject is.
  17. I was a big fan of his writing in my younger days. After visiting his finca in Cuba a few years back I decided to revisit his writing. I thought some of his earlier works stood the test, "The Sun Also Rises" was a good read but I found the characters insufferable. Most of the time I just wanted to slap them silly. His mid to later works I found much less compelling reaching a low with "The Old Man and the Sea". I thought it a real clunker. It is hard to separate the man, the mythical figure and his writing and I think much of his allure as a writer is tied to his public persona as a man of action. A manly man doing manly things!
  18. BlueTrain

    BlueTrain Call Me a Cab

    There's a photo of him out fishing somewhere, probably in the Atlantic, and in the background leaning against the side of the boat is a Thompson. Some say he was the first celebrity or at least the first writer who was. Yet another writer claimed that most of his problems as well as the decline in the quality of his writing was because of multiple head injuries he received in his life. While he may have been a manly man doing manly things, just like a truck driver or a coal miner, he made his living by making up stories and writing them down.
  19. MikeKardec

    MikeKardec Practically Family

    I'd blame drink more than boxing ... if that was the source of head injuries. Back in those days many times a lighter glove was used and the number of head injuries was significantly fewer while the number of broken hands was higher. Thinking more about his decline I'd say it was also attributable to getting high on his own fumes. When an artist starts playing himself for the audience (see Hemmingway's behavior in WWII) or playing himself for himself you know he's in trouble. Sooner or later they will be plagiarizing their own style to produce more and more hollow works. This happened quite recently to James Ellroy and it's not pretty. When the time comes to reinvent yourself it's good to have a friend honest enough to tell you. And if you don't do it, you end up a member of your own cover band.
  20. Tiki Tom

    Tiki Tom Practically Family

    "end up a member of your own cover band." Nice turn of phrase.

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