When you think of Hemingway, what do you think of? Is he a pompous writer filled with a bloated sense of self or is he the voice of a generation?
No matter your opinion of him, you have to admit the man had chops.
Saturday was the birthday of one of the greatest American writers. Love him or hate him, Ernest Hemingway was a literary juggernaut.
The man gave a voice to the Lost Generation. (For those unfamiliar, they were the generation that came of age during World War I.)
Hemingway published seven novels, six short story collections and two non-fiction works between mid-1920s and mid-1950s.
Then, as if that wasn’t enough, three more novels, four collections of short stories and three more non-fiction works were published after his death. Most, if not all, of his works are now considered to be classics of American Literature, as they should be.
Interesting facts about Hemingway include that his mother was a musician and forced him to play the cello. He was also a journalist for The Kansas City Star for six months. He also bounced around after his stint overseas as a freelance reporter for a while. Oh, and that commercial with the most interesting man in the world? They based him off of Hemingway, so stay thirsty.
Hemingway is one of those writers that has the ability to polarize readers and critics. His works are worshipped and beloved by some for their stark descriptions of where he had been and what he had felt.
When you read a passage, you can see the sunset and feel the breeze caress your skin. Even if you have never been to where he is describing, after you read one of his novels you feel as if you’ve been there. He was one of the masters of not just describing, but ingraining his experience to another human being. That’s the power of not just good, but great, literature.
Personally, that is an aspect of his prose I was always impressed with. That he had the ability to relate to other humans on an emotionally accessible level. He didn’t use examples that would only relate to a unique portion of the population. And, if he did, he brought them back to you emotionally with something you could understand.
If you haven’t read Hemingway, or hated him the first time around, give him a shot. At least read one whole piece before you deem his entire repertoire useless.
“A man's got to take a lot of punishment to write a really funny book.” See? He isn’t so pompous now is he.