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Thread: What do you think Hemingway's Best Fiction is?

  1. #1
    Registered User beroq's Avatar
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    What do you think Hemingway's Best Fiction is?

    Hemingway is one of the highest points where greatness in literature could ever reach. He was among the modern writers who are called "The Lost Generation," and an intimate witness of wars and conflicts. He was in a constant fight in himself and outside there were enough conflicts for him to tell the story of.

    To me, his best work is: A Natural History of the Dead, a very short story where I could find all his philosophy as to the life in reality; a life which stands naked, cruel and vulnerable.

    What is your pick?
    Last edited by beroq; 04-29-2009 at 04:00 PM.

  2. #2
    I wouldn't rate Hemingway as highly as you obviously do but I do think he is a good writer and have read several of his works, though not the short story you mentioned. From the novels I would say that A Moveable Feast followed by Fiesta are easily better than his other novels.

    I prefer Hemingway in these two works because for me he writes better when he is not trying to write fiction too much. In other words the more biographical his work the better I find it, strangely. I feel that in his other novels Green Hills of Africa, A Farewell to Arms For Whom the Bell Tolls etc, that he is trying to force things a little, whereas I prefer him in a more natural tone which is how I take the first two I mentioned.

    Granted it has been a couple of years since I read Hemingway (apart from A Moveable Feast as I read that every year) but this is my take on Hemingway.

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    Skol'er of Thinkery The Comedian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neely View Post
    I wouldn't rate Hemingway as highly as you obviously do but I do think he is a good writer and have read several of his works, though not the short story you mentioned. From the novels I would say that A Moveable Feast followed by Fiesta are easily better than his other novels.

    I prefer Hemingway in these two works because for me he writes better when he is not trying to write fiction too much. In other words the more biographical his work the better I find it, strangely. I feel that in his other novels Green Hills of Africa, A Farewell to Arms For Whom the Bell Tolls etc, that he is trying to force things a little, whereas I prefer him in a more natural tone which is how I take the first two I mentioned.

    Granted it has been a couple of years since I read Hemingway (apart from A Moveable Feast as I read that every year) but this is my take on Hemingway.
    Interesting take on Hemingway, Neely. I like Hemingway, though, I must admit that I like him less and less as I get older. Still, the work of his that shines above the rest is The Sun Also Rises. And, I keep thinking about your [Neely] idea that his best "fiction" is more autobiographical than conscientiously fictional. The Sun Also Rises, I believe is another of those works that is more rooted in the author's personal experience than in his imagination.
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    Registered User prendrelemick's Avatar
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    The Old Man and The Sea, for me. I like its simplicity of language and its strong accessible themes.

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    Registered User onioneater's Avatar
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    I think Hemingway is WOEFULLY overrated. As is Virginia Woolf, Henry James and Anthony Trollope.

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    Registered User kelby_lake's Avatar
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    I just can't read Hemingway. I'm pretty sure that most of the people who love him are men- he has a very macho style which is sort of alienating for anyone who isn't a man.

    I like some quotes from his work, which is why I want to finish a book, but...

  7. #7
    I've read the following of Hemingway's works:
    1. For whom the Bells Toll
    2. The Sun also Rises
    3. The Old Man and the Sea
    4. Short stories, such as A clean, well-lighted place, and The Snows of Kilimanjaro

    In my opinion The Old Man and the Sea is his best work, by far. I tend to like most of his stuff too, but to me that little novella reached a place that most works never do.
    "Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand."
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    Registered User beroq's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kelby_lake View Post
    I just can't read Hemingway. I'm pretty sure that most of the people who love him are men- he has a very macho style which is sort of alienating for anyone who isn't a man.

    I like some quotes from his work, which is why I want to finish a book, but...
    Indeed, Hemingway has often been accused of being a misogynist, which I respectfully don't agree with. Maybe his excessive use of male characters in his works has created such an image of him in the minds.

    Certainly, all of his protagonists are male and few female characters come to the fore in his books, but this is not a sound logic to base such a claim.

    I assume this to be a mere artistic choice.

  9. #9
    Registered User beroq's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by onioneater View Post
    I think Hemingway is WOEFULLY overrated. As is Virginia Woolf, Henry James and Anthony Trollope.
    Why do you think so, onioneater?

    *Was his characters not genuine enough?
    *Have you seen a defect in his use of language?
    *Any flaws in the structure of his book?
    *Or, was he too ordinary and even artless (a warmonger, a fight-monger) to write finer books?

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    Quote Originally Posted by beroq
    Hemingway is one of the highest points where greatness in literature could ever reach. He was among the modern writers who are called "The Lost Generation," and an intimate witness of wars and conflicts. He was in a constant fight in himself and outside there were enough conflicts for him to tell the story of.
    Beautifully said - bravo! I have not read quite as many of his short stories as I have his novels; I have only read Winner Take Nothing. Of his novels, I have read quite a number, and have a lot of difficulty choosing a favorite; I loved them all for their own unique reasons. A Moveable Feast took me a bit longer to get through than most of his novels, because I could not connect with it quite as much, until about half through, particularly the parts with F. Scott Fitzgerald; For Whom the Bell Tolls had me on the edge of my seat in the same way that Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment did, due to its intensity; The Old Man and the Sea, which I read in one sitting (I could not put it down), brought me to tears; A Farewell to Arms I thought also a very emotional novel and deeply touching; The Sun Also Rises jumped around a lot, plot-wise and character-wise, but I thought this novel had the greatest depth for characters out of all I have read of Hemingway.
    Overall, I would call it a three-way tie for A Farewell to Arms, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and The Old Man and the Sea. Do any other of my fellow Hemingway-ians suggest what I should read next?
    Quote Originally Posted by onioneater
    I think Hemingway is WOEFULLY overrated. As is Virginia Woolf, Henry James and Anthony Trollope.
    Ironic, I have always thought the same about J.R.R. Tolkein.
    Quote Originally Posted by kelby_lake
    I just can't read Hemingway. I'm pretty sure that most of the people who love him are men- he has a very macho style which is sort of alienating for anyone who isn't a man.

    I like some quotes from his work, which is why I want to finish a book, but...
    I admit, I have noticed more men enjoying Hemingway than women, very true, and good point; he can get a bit abrasive, and Hemingway, himself, even married many times - he grabbed life by the horns in multiple masculine acts (war, travel, hunting, etc.). Men in his novels have a common trend, at least out of the ones I have read, including a number of his short stories - every novel has a man as a sole main character, despite the book's written perspective; every one of those men, including while portraying himself in A Moveable Feast, has a gruff, harsh, strong-as-iron manner, but they all additionally have a frequently repressed emotion, sensitivity, and fragility about them - some of the main characters even shatter in emotion and tragedy, like in parts of A Farewell to Arms. I think this says a lot about Hemingway - a very masculine man, but a very sensitive individual.
    Women can often get portrayed as weak dependents in his novels, I agree, and, in the words of that silly woman in the film My Big Fat Greek Wedding, the man will often function as the head in every plot of his novels, but the woman functions as the neck, and turns his head every direction. In the novels I have read, all of the male main characters have a weakness for beautiful women, particularly in For Whom the Bell Tolls and A Farewell to Arms, and the female main characters in both of those novels, especially the former, end up appearing virtuous, hardworking, determined, and frequent decision-makers.

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    My favorite is The Sun Also Rises (Fiesta) - great atmosphere.
    Second place goes to For Whom The Bell Tolls.

    Best regards

  12. #12
    Registered User kelby_lake's Avatar
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    You can feel the testosterone coming out of his books

  13. #13
    Alea iacta est. mortalterror's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kelby_lake View Post
    You can feel the testosterone coming out of his books
    What's wrong with that? Men don't have to hate Jane Austen just because her books are oriented more toward feminine issues. Masculinity is a point of view and a valid one. As Jerry Holkins recently wrote "Eventually, we'll come to understand that the universe is wide enough to contain ideas which do not pertain to us." Something may be quite good which is nevertheless not our cup of tea, and feminist or not, Hemingway is arguably the greatest prose stylist of the English language.
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    Bibliophile JBI's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mortalterror View Post
    What's wrong with that? Men don't have to hate Jane Austen just because her books are oriented more toward feminine issues. Masculinity is a point of view and a valid one. As Jerry Holkins recently wrote "Eventually, we'll come to understand that the universe is wide enough to contain ideas which do not pertain to us." Something may be quite good which is nevertheless not our cup of tea, and feminist or not, Hemingway is arguably the greatest prose stylist of the English language.
    Yes, but one could argue that Hemingway enforces and projects a sense of ideal masculinity that has become dated to our society. I wouldn't dismiss the books on those grounds, but I would acknowledge that that is somewhat founded criticism. His attacks on Fitzgerald, for instance, for being too womanly, illustrate a sense of Macho, patriarchal masculinity, that one can argue is a negative construct.

    One doesn't even need to be a feminist to critique him - one could argue that his view of masculinity is harmful to males, as it enforces a male ideal identity.

    That being said, I personally like a few of his books. The Sun Also Rises namely, and his Short Stories. As for greatest Prose stylist, one of the better ones, certainly, but I am reluctant to use the term greatest anywhere, especially since style, if good, is always idiosyncratic, and hard to compare.
    Last edited by JBI; 04-30-2009 at 05:57 PM.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by mortalterror View Post
    What's wrong with that? Men don't have to hate Jane Austen just because her books are oriented more toward feminine issues. Masculinity is a point of view and a valid one. As Jerry Holkins recently wrote "Eventually, we'll come to understand that the universe is wide enough to contain ideas which do not pertain to us." Something may be quite good which is nevertheless not our cup of tea, and feminist or not, Hemingway is arguably the greatest prose stylist of the English language.
    Yep, that is a good point which I have expressed before to some people. I don't know about him being the greatest prose stylist but I do think Hemingway takes a lot of unfair criticism due to his perceived "macho" style which I think is unfair to Hemingway the writer.

    Good point and comparison about Austen, I would champion Austen from the rooftops for her effortlessness and ironic voice if nothing else, viewing her from a purely critical and impersonal level. However, I am not particularly drawn to her works as I am with some other writers, but this shouldn't, and doesn't, affect my critical view of her as a writer.

    The bottom line for me is that Hem is has much more sensitivity and is in tune with some of the fundamental elements of life/nature then many give him credit for. I don't think he is the greatest thing since sliced bread but he is much more than a typical macho male novelist; to think so does him a discredit I think, read some passages from Fiesta to see what I mean.

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