To start with I would consider him a Great American and I could go on and on about that. I spend all my spare time studying him only as a man because I am a literary idiot. I love the literary stuff on this website, but I wouldn't have the temerity to contribute very much.
According to my research, Hemingway operated a clandestine network for the OSS during the Second World War. He did great service and was willing to have that story never told. He even refused to publish one of his greatest books, Islands in the Stream, for fear that he might betray a trust with his country and her allies. He was willing to die for his country and he was willing to take up justifiable causes that the mainstream of the US public would deny or avoid under the excuse of isolation. He hated facsism, but loved his fellow man.
I'd like to hear why he was a great author from our learned literary friends. It is always a question worth asking and each newcomer to the website should be expected to ask it - directly or indirectly.
Joined: 14 August 2005
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Posted: 27 January 2006 at 11:51pm | IP Logged
First of all, he was as Don notes a "true American" - he was an amalgam of what made and still in my opinion makes this country relatively unique among nations: he was a "melting pot," as most of us really are, with "Indian" and English and who knows what other genes. He seemed to respect others for their differences as well as similarities, and despite stories suggesting he may have been one, he disliked bullies and bullying immensely. He listened, he studied, he learned. He was loyal to those he was loyal to - Ezra Pound being the most glaring example.
Secondly, not wishing to necessarily reveal all my possibly unfounded ideas of his personality, he was indeed a great writer. He fine-tuned an innovative literary style that was in its infancy with essentially three prior originators - Mark Twain, U.S. Grant and Sherwood Anderson. It was a "uniquely" American voice, in that it used 'plain English,' or more accurately accessible, brief sentences for the most part in an active if still past-tense voice, describing the affects of everything from the weather to the neighborhood to the world to politics and the "big issues" of love and death and war and how to live in a world without compromising a certain core set of values (the 10 commandments with occasional lapses?).
While the three previously mentioned writers - yes, the same Grant that led Union troops to victory and yet was not so good at leading the country afterwards - showed the origins, as Picasso learned from the impressionists and even surealists but developed his own unique style, so Hemingway took what he learned and made it not only his, but truly unique. He can be immitated - one can use the rudiments of his technique to write - but he can not be well-forged. Because writing ultimately springs from the author, from the author's experiences and interests and even their way of thinking as well as speaking.
What is great writing? Using words to communicate - a thought, an idea, a story. What is great American writing? Using Americans as characters to describe how, to steal a phrase, we are ultimately (humans, that is) "Innocents Abroad."
And Hemingway could use words - a short sentence - to convey more than one intended meaning.
Writing is ultimately the process of putting thought to language, and all language is rooted in symbols for sounds that we use to communicate.
How he was able to develop his style in a few short years amazes me to this day, just as how Michelangelo could carve David by the time he was just 25.
His voice - not necessarily even he - is what I miss most.
A few months back a Canadian mining company asked me to look into a tailings line for its mining project in Cuba. Canada has normal relations with Cuba so Canadian Companies can and will venture in Cuba. That is not the issue.
However, my credentials including my CV went through country scrutiny. Then it seems that my wife's connection through her father to Cuba was somehow revealed. It looks like I am going to have the proof that I need to place him in Cuba in at least one of the periods that I have hypothesized. We have evidence that the mine site Sierra de Canada was named in honor of Marie's father. It was discovered in late 1951 early 1952 more than a year after he was supposed to have died on a prospecting trip in Canada.
Because he was an enemy of Batista he becomes a martyr to the revolution is my guess. My father in law disliked politics in the extreme. He hated the facsists, but being Polish he sure had no love for the Russians. However, his lifelong friend Charlie was in fact a card carrying member of the Communist party and a remittance man to boot. His father was German and his mother Russian. I mean the guy was really an enigma.
Thus my work as a mining engineer has opened the door to an interesting discovery connected to my research. I have to be careful in pursuing this thing to not violate client confidentiality so this is all I can say.
What would be more interesting would be to prove that he was in Cuba working with the Crook Factory in 1943. I think he may be have been portrayed as the boat driver in Islands in the Stream. He was an expert at this being a rum runner during prohibition. That landed him in Sing Sing by the way. He escaped with Willie Sutton, but unlike Slick Willie he was never recaptured. He was given a wartime pardon through arrangements made by William Stephenson and Bill Donovan. One of his ops was the stealing of the Vichy Naval Code. His call sign was "Georgia Cracker". He learned safecracking from the master Doc Tait while in Sing Sing. The op is a classic, you will find it on the Internet.
Joined: 14 August 2005
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Posted: 01 February 2006 at 11:07am | IP Logged
Don: that's all great news, it sounds like. I'm excited for you being so apparently close to your goal.
As for "Crook Factory," first, you might start with his release from Sing Sing (which is, after all, just 'Up The River' from NYC). I understand the U.K. has lifted secrecy on a number of war-time historic documents. Perhaps, just perhaps, you might be able to contact someone in, say, the Home Ministry or better yet, Exterior, who could take up your cause? You know what I'm saying. MI how the weather is warm here today!
The Communist business has to a very large extent been blow way out of proportion and perspective by time. Many people started out with the Wobblies, the International Workers of the World - like the famed Edward R. Murrow - only to change their minds rather quickly when Stalin came to power.
At the same time, technically if you wanted to fight Fascists in Spain, you had to join The Internationale, which sponsored the International Brigades. It started out with all the good intentions of young people wanting to make the world better only to wind up with the Stalinists under Russian control taking charge and basically handing Spain to Franco (considering Stalin and Hitler were planning to invade Poland together in the same year - 1939 - that isn't in retrospect surprising. On the other hand, they did know how to organize and train folks to be an effective army or at least give a good show of it).
I still recommend "Tierra y Libertad," or "Land and Liberty," a great movie if a bit mellow-dramatic, for its portrayal of the infighting that broke out into actual shooting between the Communists (mostly Russian ordered) and the Socialist/Trotskyites the P.O.U.M. in the streets of Barcelona.
My parents' friends were POUM. When I told my mother about the movie, and how it made many things clearer about why the Republic couldn't be saved, she said "that's not even the half of it..."
Because of the fact the U.S. and U.K. were "respecting" a neutrality pact with Germany and Italy and Spain, the most the governments would do is evacuate their citizens from Spain when the shooting started. Of course, if you were British, you could go to The Rock and hop a boat or stay. But Americans were very afraid of being drawn into "another European war" at the time - not to mention a fair number of people in the U.S. and U.K. were not exactly unsympathetic to the Fascist (anti-Communist) cause at the time.
This all meant that people wanting to fight in Spain had to go as independents, not representing their countries, which is exactly what the Comintern figured might get the revolution going. This also meant that anyone - even card carrying Republican Party members - who fought in Spain on behalf of the legitimately elected Spanish Republic against Franco's invasion from Morroco were immediately branded as Communists when they came home.
There's a reference in Gardens of Eden to the character, Roger, being seen "a little bit red." That's Pinko. Socialist. When people prefer to take the easy, paint-all-with-one-brush label, rather than actually research political movements and philosophies, that's what you get.
So what I'm saying is Wrobes didn't have to be `card-carrying' Communist to be in Spain, really, though he might have been seen as such upon his return (like Hemingway briefly, thanks to meeting with some folks in Dorothy Parker's apartment), while it's no surprise really if he was a friend or at least partner with some. And I'll bet my bottom dollar if you were against Batista in the '50s, it didn't matter what your political philosophy or your backers were, you were branded a Communist from the get-go.
After all, in the 1970s-80s in Latin America, all the good ol' Fascist dictators got together and formed Operation Condor to wipe out Communists, or whoever their political opposition really was (campasinos, farmers, some heart-changed well-to-do Senoritos from nice middle class families). It worked pretty well, too, from Pinochet's perspective, I'll bet. At least he stayed in power until 1990, backed by the same folks who brought Spain Franco. But as we say, that's another story for another time.
Good luck. Sounds to me like you're on the right vein (my feeble attempt at miner talk).
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