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 Ernest Hemingway Message Boards : General Questions
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Daughter
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Posted: 18 November 2005 at 3:40pm | IP Logged Quote Daughter

I wonder if the after affects of the mortar attack that killed the guy standing next to  Hemingway in Italy in the first world war have anything to do with his bouts with impotence? Maybe this was HIS "war wound". What do you think?

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RobbieJor
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Posted: 16 December 2005 at 2:32pm | IP Logged Quote RobbieJor

When we read a story, we often want to understand the metaphysical or psychological reasons that motivate the author to write such a story.  This is particularly true when reading stories by Ernest Hemingway.  Ernie was such a “larger than life” character that we want to understand his motivations for creating certain characters, scenes and situations.  No character of his has created as much interest and controversy as Jake Barnes, the protagonist, in The Sun Also Rises.  In our desire to understand Hemingway’s motivations we frequently overlook the fact that Ernie was first and foremost, a story teller:

 

“…It came from a personal experience in that when I had been wounded at one time there had been an infection from pieces of wool cloth being driven into the scrotum.  Because of this I got to know other kids who had genito urinary wounds and I wondered what a man’s life would have been like after that if his penis had been lost and his testicles and spermatic cord remained intact.  I had known a boy that had happened to.  So I took him and made him into a foreign correspondent…”  Letter to Thomas Bledsoe, 1951 Selected Letters, Page 745

 

So Ernie took a situation, looked at it from different angles, said “what if” and saw a story in it.  So yes, we can say that his war experiences contributed to his stories, and to this one in particular, but I don’t think we can say that they contributed to his preoccupation with impotence.



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Pjk
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Posted: 17 December 2005 at 10:29am | IP Logged Quote Pjk

Sounds like a good title for a play... The Impotance of Being Ernest.

 

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hijo
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Posted: 17 December 2005 at 8:16pm | IP Logged Quote hijo

Great Title!! Especially considering the wound is one of the more traumatic to most men - being "outies," we often grow preoccupied with protecting that particular appendage.

That's what made it an important part in "Born on The Fourth Of July" as well - and tons of war movies that show why "bouncing betties" and other "anti-personnel" mines - including hand grenades set up with a trip wire -seem fiendishly designed to destroy at least that particular body part.

However, I think we're straying significantly from the actual subject.

Depression causes "dysfunction." As does alcohol and alcohol abuse, alcohol being a depressant. As does anti-depressants (some of them, including the few that were used as standard perscription for bipolar disorder, most of which carry heavy warnings against consumption of alcohol at the same time).

He'd already had progeny, so it's not like he'd been cheated out of anything (as presumably had his character in TSAR). In fact, he'd led people to believe he'd gotten great use and personal satisfaction from his extensive experiences.

Likely any problem in that area experienced by EH contributed to his depression, making it a vicious circle. But I highly doubt it caused him to commit suicide alone, as the big key to creativity and depression existed in the exact place where he put the end of the barrel...

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