Bright Young Things discussion

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Favourite Authors > Ernest Hemingway

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message 1: by Max (new)

Max | 39 comments Hi, unless I am mistaken there is no topic on Hemingway yet. Well, worry not for now there is! So I suppose I should ask something, like have you read any of his works? Did you like them? Tell me about it! I recently finished The Sun Also Rises and enjoyed it quite a bit. Now I am in the middle of A Farewell to Arms and say that it is very well written. If you haven't read Hemingway yet then i absolutely recommend it. Then when you're done come on over and share your Hemingway experience and what you believe he was trying to tell us with his works.


message 2: by Ally (new)

Ally (goodreadscomuser_allhug) | 1653 comments Mod
The group read The Sun Also Rises in June last year. Here is a link to the discussion in case anyone is interest and would like to add any comments...

http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/3...


message 3: by Max (new)

Max | 39 comments Ally wrote: "The group read The Sun Also Rises in June last year. Here is a link to the discussion in case anyone is interest and would like to add any comments...

http://www.goodreads.com/topic/..."


Thanks Ally, I'm dissapointed I wasn't on this site during the discussion . Hemingway's style is so slick and simple it is often ambiguous, nebulous, and open to a lot of different interpretations and it is good to have a group of literary minds assessing it together.


message 4: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1525 comments I recently started reading Green Hills of Africa. enjoying it so far.


message 5: by Max (new)

Max | 39 comments He wrote that relatively in the middle of his career I believe. Is this your first Hemingway?


message 6: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1525 comments No, I've read The Sun Also Rises several times, Old Man And the Sea in school and I think Farewell to Arms years ago. Also read AE Hotchner's book about him long ago..

I see that we just passed the 50th anniversary of his death. Boy, does that make me feel old.>

I also have For Whom the Bell Tolls sitting on my shelf waiting for me to get to it.

I think what got me started on Green Hills was they were showing The Snows of Kilimanjaro on tv that day.


message 7: by Max (new)

Max | 39 comments Oh so you are very familiar with his work. That's interesting about it being exactly 50 years ago on July 2. Still his work continues to weave its way into the hearts of his readers. Did you enjoy any book more than the rest?


message 8: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1525 comments I think the sun Also Rises is my fave, of the ones I've read so far.

I'm from the Chicago area so he writes in much the same way as we talk. When we had the discussion on the book, a number of how the people talked. I had no problem with it because it sounded, at least to my ear, like the language I grew up with and hear almost every day.


message 9: by Max (new)

Max | 39 comments It seems that language certainly builds a barrier in many books that the reader needs to overcome to fully enjoy it. Take Shakespeare for example, I know almost everything he wrote is renowned and acclaimed yet I've never finished one of his works without the assistance of sparknotes.

But would you say that the way Hemingway wrote TSAR diverged from his other books, and that is what you enjoyed about it? Or is there another reason you liked it more?


message 10: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1525 comments No idea why I like it more. Maybe the period between the wars, expatriates whiling away the hours in Paris. I also liked and yet disliked The Moveable Feast, probably for the same reasons.


message 11: by Max (new)

Max | 39 comments It held a quiet dispassion within itself. Not a story struggling to please but one trying to reveal. I suppose that a lot of his books are written like that but TSAR especially. Besides it was predominantly character driven unlike a lot of books.


message 12: by Charles (new)

Charles I think "Big Two-Hearted River" from In Our Time is a good story to give to writing students, who are always told to make it clear at the beginning what the story is about. This story is about someone fishing. Nothing else is ever said. The clue is in the last sentence, not the first, and it's a very dim clue. So much for publishers' readers.

The end of The Sun Also Rises is to me the peak of Hemingway's artistry.

"Oh Jake", Brett said, "we could have had such a damned good time together."

Ahead was a mounted policeman in khaki directing traffic. He raised his baton. The car slowed suddenly pressing Brett against me.

"Yes" I said. "Isn't it pretty to think so?"


message 13: by Max (new)

Max | 39 comments Thanks for the tip, I'd like to check that story out. Yes I really liked that line as well. What do you believe Hemingway was trying to say with it?


message 14: by Charles (new)

Charles Max F. wrote: "Thanks for the tip, I'd like to check that story out. Yes I really liked that line as well. What do you believe Hemingway was trying to say with it?"

Well overtly, Jake has a war injury which made him impotent. But I read it as an acceptance of hopelessness, coming at the end of the Spanish bullfight trip which has been enjoyable but after all just that, a trip to see a bullfight. One longs for connection, but it is denied.


message 15: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1525 comments It seemed to me it was saying that he realized that he could accept the situation and it wasn't yet clear tome that she could.




message 16: by Max (new)

Max | 39 comments It sounds like it is exactly what you both said, an acceptance of hopelessness. The story, I believe, deals with the pointlessness of loving someone like Brett. That all of our advances turn to dust with the rising of the sun. Hemingway extracted the title from Ecclesiastes which deals, specifically, with that. The sun rises, then sets and hurries to rise again. Always beginning again, no progression, everything human is mortal. The line emphasizes to me how they have returned where they started. After an entire story filled with a fleeting hope and phantom aspiration the development of any sort of connection has been wiped clean and supplant with the recognition of how futile the endeavor is.


message 17: by Max (new)

Max | 39 comments Just completed A Farewell to Arms and although I thought it was well written and fantastically beautiful I didn't enjoy Hemingway's religious slander and the heavy bleakness of it.


message 18: by Ivan (new)

Ivan | 561 comments Max F. wrote: "Just completed A Farewell to Arms and although I thought it was well written and fantastically beautiful I didn't enjoy Hemingway's religious slander and the heavy bleakness of it."

This was my favorite by Hemingway. For Whom the Bell Tolls is almost as good, though it can bleak as well.


message 19: by Max (new)

Max | 39 comments Yeah I'd like to read that as well. And The Old Man and the Sea although I have absolutely no idea what it's about besides, maybe, an old man...and maybe the ocean...


message 20: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1525 comments I had to read it in high school. Good book. Spencer Tracy played in the movie.


message 21: by Ivan (new)

Ivan | 561 comments It's certainly one of the great American novellas, a classic study of man against nature. Quite thrilling.


message 22: by Charles (new)

Charles Yeah, Hemingway does bleak. One of his great legacies is to show how much of importance that bare style can deliver. (It's not so bare as it looks, but the intensity of it is in the command of tiny choices -- particular words exactly placed, or not... The rest of us need to learn to do that without the Hemingway Code which comes with it, because of which he killed himself.


message 23: by Max (new)

Max | 39 comments Charles wrote: "Yeah, Hemingway does bleak. One of his great legacies is to show how much of importance that bare style can deliver. (It's not so bare as it looks, but the intensity of it is in the command of tiny..."

That is a good point. The style is misleading to a disregarding eye, probably hastily categorized as dull or inept. But with a more meticulous scrutiny its obvious how skilled the style is. Besides the simplicity it which it is delivered helps to set up the imagery and lets the reader's mind take it the rest of the way.

As for the Hemingway Code, I am not too familiar with it. I read a little about the principles involved in it but nothing more.


message 24: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1525 comments Charles wrote: "Yeah, Hemingway does bleak. One of his great legacies is to show how much of importance that bare style can deliver. (It's not so bare as it looks, but the intensity of it is in the command of tiny..."

Suicide did run in his family. Sometimes you just can't beat genetics. But he was also quite ill at the time and didn't relish a lingering death.

His style is misleading - so simple and yet so painstakingly done.


message 25: by Amalie (new)

Amalie  | 39 comments Jan C wrote: "Suicide did run in his family. Sometimes you just can't beat genetics. But he was also quite ill at the time and didn't relish a lingering death...."

I agree. Depression runs in families and may be they just loose the grip of those periods of sadness. I think Depression was also there in Sylvia Plath's family in her father's side. If I'm correct, her son also committed suicide.

As for Hemingway, he's great but I've not read many novels only one or two and, yes they are bleak but then again most early 20th century writer's has that ingredient in they works.


message 26: by Max (new)

Max | 39 comments Its peculiar because the suicidal inclination wasn't brought on by external means, or at least the majority of it wasn't, but rather a hereditary internal permeation, just like a disease.


message 27: by Max (new)

Max | 39 comments Happy Birthday to Hemingway, if he were alive today he'd be 112 years old


message 28: by Amalie (new)

Amalie  | 39 comments Max F. wrote: "Happy Birthday to Hemingway, if he were alive today he'd be 112 years old"

Really I didn't realize that :D


message 29: by Max (new)

Max | 39 comments The Old Man and the Sea was terrific, a masterpiece. It's become my favorite Hemingway. The fight for survival, the proving of manhood, optimism and hope in spite of failure. Well done. The movie with Spencer Tracy was great also.


message 30: by Ellen (new)

Ellen (karenvirginiaflaxman) | 96 comments I was reading the online magazine, Obit Magazine, this morning online, and came across this article about Hemingway and his decline and suicide. Really interesting article and nicely done.

http://www.obit-mag.com/articles/hemi...

Enjoy! Or not? Thanks!


message 31: by Max (new)

Max | 39 comments Good article, I never knew that suicide was THAT prevalent in his family. Nor the magnitude of damage he sustained in his head through a large portion of his life. All compounding motives it would seem towards his degeneration. It is interesting how he placed such a high priority on writing. Interesting, not unbelievable. It seemed to be everything to him.


message 32: by Ellen (new)

Ellen (karenvirginiaflaxman) | 96 comments Max F. wrote: "Good article, I never knew that suicide was THAT prevalent in his family. Nor the magnitude of damage he sustained in his head through a large portion of his life. All compounding motives it would ..."

Max, I thought the same thing. I was quite surprised to read that the damage he suffered to his head was that serious. I did know that suicide was quite prevalent in his family, and believe that depression may have an inherited component to it. And you know that his writing discipline was quite amazing - he would sit and "write" for eight hours at a crack, and even if he managed to write only one paragraph in all that time. Amazing...


message 33: by Max (new)

Max | 39 comments That's interesting. Eight hours? He must have been a very patient man


message 34: by Ellen (new)

Ellen (karenvirginiaflaxman) | 96 comments Max F. wrote: "That's interesting. Eight hours? He must have been a very patient man"

Yes, but we must keep in mind that he was most likely drinking a little bit as he sat there in bar waiting for inspiration! ;o) Thanks!


message 35: by Max (new)

Max | 39 comments Thats true, he probably consumed an alcoholic beverage with every new idea which popped into his head. Like a literary drinking game he himself pioneered. I suppose that's a way for passing the time; simultaneously creating and forgetting new fiction. The man is a genius =)


message 36: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1525 comments His intent was to get "one true sentence". That is why he would sometimes only have a paragraph after 8 hours work. Not because of inebriation. Can't swear to it but I think inebriation waited until work was through for the day. He has always been portrayed as drinking coffee (espresso) or perhaps nursing a drink throughout the day. Many of these days were before he was successful.


message 37: by Max (new)

Max | 39 comments That seems like the most plausible scenario Jan. I was just having some fun before =)

Whatever his strategy, the man had a remarkable work ethic. His devotion to his "job" is one to be respected and learned from. But its that classic adage "hard work pays off" which seems to develop here. Hemingway obviously was a great worker. There was no doubt of him becoming a success from it


message 38: by Ellen (new)

Ellen (karenvirginiaflaxman) | 96 comments Jan C wrote: "His intent was to get "one true sentence". That is why he would sometimes only have a paragraph after 8 hours work. Not because of inebriation. Can't swear to it but I think inebriation waited unti..."

Yes, Jan, that's the reason for his sitting there all day - trying to write "one true sentence". Perhaps he drank coffee until the afternoon, but after that I don't know. He had a reputation for being a big drinker. And this was during the period of time before he became very successful, while he was living in Paris with many of the other expatriate American authors like the Fitzgeralds and such.


message 39: by Ellen (new)

Ellen (karenvirginiaflaxman) | 96 comments Max F. wrote: "That seems like the most plausible scenario Jan. I was just having some fun before =)

Whatever his strategy, the man had a remarkable work ethic. His devotion to his "job" is one to be respected a..."


That's correct, Max. Hemingway was very critical of Scott Fitzgerald for his lack of discipline and Scott's frittering away his time partying or else recovering from heavy drinking and consequent hangovers. Hemingway was much more "under control" with his drinking. Thanks!


message 40: by Max (new)

Max | 39 comments Ellen wrote: "Max F. wrote: "That seems like the most plausible scenario Jan. I was just having some fun before =)

Whatever his strategy, the man had a remarkable work ethic. His devotion to his "job" is one to..."


I've heard that Zelda Fitzgerald had a major hand in Hemingway and Fitzgerald's falling out, but do you believe that the nonchalance in which Fitzgerald confronted his work, as opposed to the difficult measures Hemingway took with his own, had any significance in boiling up bad blood between them?


message 41: by Ellen (new)

Ellen (karenvirginiaflaxman) | 96 comments Max F. wrote: "Ellen wrote: "Max F. wrote: "That seems like the most plausible scenario Jan. I was just having some fun before =)

Whatever his strategy, the man had a remarkable work ethic. His devotion to his "..."


From what I've read, Max, Hemingway took an instant dislike to Zelda, and thought she was a spoiled Southern belle who distracted Scott from his work. The actual falling-out though was because of Scott's drinking. Hemingway finally got fed up with watching his friend destroy himself with alcohol and broke off the friendship. Have you read any biographies of Fitzgerald? He wasn't so much nonchalant about his writing as he was incapable of doing it because he was drunk so much of the time. When he was in need of money he could sober up, buckle down and really increase his output, particularly of the short stories he sold to some of the major magazines of the time. But the drinking led to Fitzgerald's downfall, and I'm sure Zelda's mental problems didn't help at all either. Scott was always under stress, and having no tools to deal with it other than alcohol he basically killed himself with the alcohol, dying at a rather young age from the damage he'd done to his heart and other organs. Very sad story. He had so much talent and it all went to waste because of alcoholism. Thanks!


message 42: by Max (new)

Max | 39 comments Ellen wrote: "Max F. wrote: "Ellen wrote: "Max F. wrote: "That seems like the most plausible scenario Jan. I was just having some fun before =)

Whatever his strategy, the man had a remarkable work ethic. His de..."


I've never read a biography about Fitzgerald so this is all new to me. I knew he was a heavy drinker, but I never imagined it was to the magnitude in which you described it. However, it puzzles me that Hemingway would make a fuss over the thing. Wasn't he a rather extravagant consumer himself? It seems like an elixir brewed to strengthen their bond, not destroy it. Was Hemingway a more moderate user than his co-expatriate counterpart?


message 43: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1525 comments I think Hemingway controlled his drinking more. He also may not have been an alcoholic. Just drank a lot. Whereas Fitzgerald was an alcoholic. Like many alcoholics it didn't take much to get him lit.

I have a read a biography of each of them and one of Zelda. I also have a biography of both of them. I think it is just called Hemingway and Fitzgerald by (I think ) Scott Donaldson. I haven't read it yet.


message 44: by Lori (new)

Lori Walker Fitzgerald and Hemingway: A Dangerous Friendship by Bruccoli is also pretty good. I used it for a research paper I wrote. There is also a collection of their correspondence, but I forgot who the editor is.


message 45: by Ellen (last edited Sep 01, 2011 10:14AM) (new)

Ellen (karenvirginiaflaxman) | 96 comments Max F. wrote: "Ellen wrote: "Max F. wrote: "Ellen wrote: "Max F. wrote: "That seems like the most plausible scenario Jan. I was just having some fun before =)

Whatever his strategy, the man had a remarkable work..."


I think the main difference between the two writers in their drinking is that Hemingway reserved his drinking binges until he'd finished up his work for the day, whereas Fitzgerald's was so out of control that he was drunk all day long and couldn't get any work done. He'd go on the wagon when he absolutely needed money and churn out a few short stories, for which he was paid a lot of money by the magazines, and then once he thought he was set money-wise for a while he'd start binging again. So, yes, you could say that Hemingway was more moderate in his drinking than was Scott.

This is a very good biography of Zelda Fitzgerald, which presents more of her side of the couple and discusses her struggles with her sanity and with her husband:

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/89...

Thanks, Max, this is a great conversation!


message 46: by Max (new)

Max | 39 comments These seem like good biographies to get a handle on the situation. I checked out A Moveable Feast the other day at my local library. I don't believe it focuses too much on the splinter of their relationship, but more on the early Paris days of Hemingway's youth. It's written by Hemingway himself and most likely has at least some commentary about the circumstances which surround the event.

Another question: Hemingway and Fitzgerald wrote in polar opposite styles, do you believe the way they wrote helped define them, not only as authors but as people. In other words, do you believe that their writing was a reflection on themselves. And of the two, which do you think produced the greatest effect?


message 47: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1525 comments Ellen wrote: "Max F. wrote: "Ellen wrote: "Max F. wrote: "Ellen wrote: "Max F. wrote: "That seems like the most plausible scenario Jan. I was just having some fun before =)

Whatever his strategy, the man had a ..."


That was an excellent biography of her. I read it back when it came out.


message 48: by Jan C (new)

Jan C (woeisme) | 1525 comments Max F. wrote: "These seem like good biographies to get a handle on the situation. I checked out A Moveable Feast the other day at my local library. I don't believe it focuses too much on the splinter ..."

An important factor to bear in mind is that Fitzgerald was responsible for Hemingway being published by Max Perkins. He had a short story collection that was published by Liveright. But to a very large extent he owed his being published by a major publisher to Fitzgerald.

In A Moveable Feast, Hemingway does discuss taking a trip with Scott which may well have led to the breakup. There was much argument that he should not have included the section about Fitzgerald, by friends and publisher. Most of the friends were friends of both of them.

Plus, Hemingway was a bully. Especially to his friends.


message 49: by Ellen (new)

Ellen (karenvirginiaflaxman) | 96 comments Jan C wrote: "Max F. wrote: "These seem like good biographies to get a handle on the situation. I checked out A Moveable Feast the other day at my local library. I don't believe it focuses too much o..."

Jan, thanks for these comments. It's true that Fitzgerald did introduce Hemingway to Max Perkins and thus opened the door to his being published. I really agree with Hemingway's friends and editors who felt the nasty chapter on Fitzgerald shouldn't have been included. Not a very nice thing to do to a friend who'd helped you so much in your career, and whose career and life were long over. Thanks!


message 50: by Max (new)

Max | 39 comments Hemingway does have the bully persona about him. He champions masculine disposition and rigorous adventure and probably believed it was a tell-tale sign of emasculation if any of his male friends failed to reach these standards.

As for the chapter on Fitzgerald, I'm a little intrigued to read it now with all of the commentary shared about it. It seems like a jerk move if he trashed out Fitzgerald after his death. However, and I'm only speculating from the sidelines because I haven't read it yet, it's possible that Hemingway wrote the chapter because he deemed it necessary to the story. Like a no reservation mindset he approached with, in order to release to his fans his side of the story, and an aspect of the story which only he could relate.

On a side note, the other day I discovered there will be a movie made about Maxwell Perkins. It's called Genius, and set to release in 2012. Just thought it was a fun fact somewhat relevant to the discussion


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