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Big Papa

July 2, 2011

Taking some time to celebrate Ernest Hemingway. It’s going to be a wonderful weekend filled with beautiful writing, beautiful women, and sweet, strong daiquiris.

Fifty years ago this weekend, Hemingway awoke, got out of bed, grabbed a shotgun and shot himself. Generations of fans, writers and biographers have never understood why. But there have been plenty of theories, and in the British newspaper The Independent, Houston psychologist John Walsh recently weighed in with his own explanation:

“It’s easy to be spiteful about Hemingway. All his posturing, his editing of the truth, his vainglorious fibbing can obscure his undoubted bravery. He loved being in the thick of the war โ€“ the tank advance through the Ardennes, the Battle of the Bulge โ€“ dodging bullets, watching men being shot to hell all around him. But it’s hard to shake off the feeling that what he was doing wasn’t bravery, but psychotic self-dramatisation. And when you inspect the image of Hemingway-as-hero, you uncover an extraordinary sub-stratum of self-harming. You discover that, for just over half of his life, Hemingway seemed hell-bent on destroying himself.”

Read the sadly fascinating article here.

As a writer, I can’t think of many stories that affected and inspired me as much as Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants.” So chilling. So sad. So beautiful. David Ulin, the L.A. Times culture critic, would call it “an influence of style.”

For more on Hemingway, check out this FAQ, and read his short Nobel Prize acceptance speech.

Hemingway wrote, “Writing, at its best, is a lonely life. Organizations for writers palliate the writer’s loneliness but I doubt if they improve his writing. He grows in public stature as he sheds his loneliness and often his work deteriorates. For he does his work alone and if he is a good enough writer he must face eternity, or the lack of it, each day.”

3 Comments
  1. Oh, I love, love, love this post. After all these years, I am now starting to appreciate Hemingway and “Hills Like White Elephants” now one of my favorites. I use it to teach in my creative writing classes.

    Great job my friend!

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