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Thread: Hemingway, a true great?

  1. #16
    Booze Hound Noisms's Avatar
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    Something has to be said for Death in the Afternoon. The epilogue is just about the most beautiful thing ever written in the English language, in my opinion.

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    Cool MortalTerror perhaps should be MortalError!

    This is how arguments get started on this forum! Nowhere did I say anything about a great novel. You picked that up on your own. If you reread the post, you'll see that I said Hemingway wrote four pretty good novels, and I further said The Old Man and the Sea ia a novella. The four novels listed are his best, which most agree on. Garden of Eden and Across the River and into the Trees are not his best work. Islands in the Stream and A Moveable Feast are more biographical. Snows of Kilmanjaro, Francis Macomber etc are long short stories. So that leaves the four I listed. We have no argument. You were not paying attention to my post!

  3. #18
    Vincit Qui Se Vincit Virgil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mortalterror View Post
    What a very odd take on Hemingway. I've never met anyone who thought To Have and Have Not was a great novel. It's almost as bewildering as Virgil saying that he didn't like For Whom the Bell Tolls. A couple of years ago, I whipped up this diagram for a couple of friends I was trying to explain Hemingway to, and it pretty much explains how I continue to feel about the man today.
    Well, it's been decades since I read For Whom The Bell Tolls. I thought it was kind of sophomoric.

    He's my favorite writer of all time. I can't explain the way he moves me. Intellectually, I can say that Shakespeare or Dante are better
    ,
    Intellectually, Hemingway is frankly very weak. His reputation rests predomonantly on stylistic innovations. Even a fine work like "The Old man and the Sea," what is so intellectually profound and new about it?
    LET THERE BE LIGHT

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  4. #19
    Skol'er of Thinkery The Comedian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Virgil View Post
    There is some very good Hemingway (most of his short stories, The Sun Also Rises, The Old Man and the Sea, In Our Time), and there is not so good Hemingway if not even really bad Hemingway (Green Hills of Africa, For Whom the Bell Tolls), and so I would say overall he's good but not great.
    My thoughts about Hemingway are almost exactly like Virgil's above (with my little addition, indicated in bold/italics). I thought For Whom the Bell Tolls was kind of silly; and I read it a long time ago.

    I will say this, regarding Hemingway, I feel that he is the best short story writer that I've ever read. And it's not really that close. I think Daniel brought up "Hills like White Elephants" -- which accomplishes so much in so few words that it's tough to believe.

    Regarding his prose style, I think his dialogue is his greatest strength; it's sparse, sure. But he somehow manages to contextualize his characters' dialogue so well that the reader (well, this reader anyway) feels tension and duality in every word.
    Last edited by The Comedian; 12-09-2009 at 10:40 PM.
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  5. #20
    Vincit Qui Se Vincit Virgil's Avatar
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    Thanks Comedian. In Our Time is a great collection of short stories, I agree. I kind of included it in my phrase "most of the short stories."
    LET THERE BE LIGHT

    "Love follows knowledge." – St. Catherine of Siena

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    Quote Originally Posted by Virgil View Post
    . Even a fine work like "The Old man and the Sea," what is so intellectually profound and new about it?
    That has one of the worst endings I have ever read: "he was dreaming about the lions". It's awful- like something a schoolkid would write.

  7. #22
    Booze Hound Noisms's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Virgil View Post
    Intellectually, Hemingway is frankly very weak. His reputation rests predomonantly on stylistic innovations. Even a fine work like "The Old man and the Sea," what is so intellectually profound and new about it?
    That depends how much store you set in intellectual profundity. Generally speaking if I want intellectual profundity I'll read scholarly works. If I want emotional profundity I'll read a novel. And Hemingway provides that in spades.

  8. #23
    Vincit Qui Se Vincit Virgil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Noisms View Post
    That depends how much store you set in intellectual profundity. Generally speaking if I want intellectual profundity I'll read scholarly works. If I want emotional profundity I'll read a novel. And Hemingway provides that in spades.
    There's nothing contradictory between your statement and mine. I agree, a novel or any work of art doesn't require intellectualm profundity. I was just responding to Mortalterror's statement.
    LET THERE BE LIGHT

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  9. #24
    A ist der Affe NickAdams's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Virgil View Post
    In Our Time is a great collection of short stories, I agree.

    "Do you mind if I reel in this fish?" - Dale Harris

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  10. #25
    Asa Nisi Masa mayneverhave's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Virgil View Post
    Intellectually, Hemingway is frankly very weak. His reputation rests predomonantly on stylistic innovations. Even a fine work like "The Old man and the Sea," what is so intellectually profound and new about it?
    I find myself agreeing with you again. I enjoyed The Old Man and the Sea but found myself comparing with Moby-Dick - certainly not in terms of style - and found far more in Moby-Dick.

    I greatly enjoyed The Sun Also Rises and how the style of the prose worked perfectly with the subject matter, but aside from that...

  11. #26
    Alea iacta est. mortalterror's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Virgil View Post
    There's nothing contradictory between your statement and mine. I agree, a novel or any work of art doesn't require intellectualm profundity. I was just responding to Mortalterror's statement.
    I've been wracking my brain trying to think of a proper way to respond without spending all day at my keyboard and typing lengthy and tedious explanations of Hemingway's style. Noisms beat me to it, and summed it up better than I possibly could. Hemingway is more about emotion than intellect, although he does have an intellectual side.

    When I read For Whom the Bell Tolls, I remember expecting a plot twist every page. I expected that someone would be a double agent and betray Robert Jordan. But that was what a lesser novel would do, and my expectations were inflated by television and spy novels. What Hemingway set out to do was write how it would have really happened according to his experience, and taken in that vein the novel is very true. Any exaggerations or twists would have been superficial and inappropriate.

    That said, For Whom the Bell Tolls is not without moments of sublimity. There is that wonderful depiction of El Sordo's last stand on the hill. The savage communist uprising of Pablo's village is also quite memorable, as was the showdown where Pablo refused to be baited into a fight. That stuff was intense. Then there's the wonderful opening and closing sections so full of peace and nature. The novel has delightful sections of humor to, like when that foul mouthed guerilla talked about defecating in the enemy plane's engines at 30,000 feet, or when he's almost shot delivering a message because the guards are lazy. The section where the old man dies is powerful, and I don't think I'll forget Pablo shooting those men in the back. The book definitely has it's moments.
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  12. #27
    Vincit Qui Se Vincit Virgil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mortalterror View Post
    I've been wracking my brain trying to think of a proper way to respond without spending all day at my keyboard and typing lengthy and tedious explanations of Hemingway's style. Noisms beat me to it, and summed it up better than I possibly could. Hemingway is more about emotion than intellect, although he does have an intellectual side.
    Hehe, sorry to have caused you anguish. I don't know if Hemingway is so much about emotion, any more than any other writer. When he's "on" he captures life and the moment as well as anyone. When he's not "on", he's flat, or sometimes mawkish, or melodramtic.

    Oh I must put in a good word for A Moveable Feast. Not sure if that was mentioned here. That's a well written work. I definitely recommend it.
    LET THERE BE LIGHT

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  13. #28
    Literature Fiend Mariamosis's Avatar
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    I absolutely loved 'The Old Man and the Sea'!

    I also read Hemmingway's 'The Garden of Eden', which I enjoyed reading, however, I wouldn't consider it one of my favorites.

    Which Hemmingway should I tackle next?
    -Mariamosis

  14. #29
    Farewell to Arms is a classic. If not then The Sun Also Rises or For Whom the Bell Tolls (I read this one, but not The Sun Also Rises).

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