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 Ernest Hemingway Message Boards : General Questions
Subject Topic: Ernest should have listened to his mother Post ReplyPost New Topic
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Dennis Byrne Jr
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Posted: 17 September 2005 at 8:52pm | IP Logged Quote Dennis Byrne Jr

I watched American Masters the other night on PBS and couldn't help, but laugh out loud with Ernest's mother's reaction to "The Sun Also Rises."

She expressed her disgust with his use of the "b-word" to , I guess, describe females and the curse word "Dammit."

Well, I just hope I listen and respect my mother and heed her advice.

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woyzeck9
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Posted: 19 September 2005 at 11:05pm | IP Logged Quote woyzeck9

His mother was probably the reason he chose to use the b-word to
describe women.

BTW, shouldn't this be in the Sun Also Rises forum?

Edited by woyzeck9 on 19 September 2005 at 11:06pm
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Dennis Byrne Jr
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Posted: 20 September 2005 at 10:02am | IP Logged Quote Dennis Byrne Jr

Well, woyzeck9,

I had an unexpected phone conversation with my mother last night when I called my older sister's house. Talk about toxic family relationships. Barbara and I probably will not be speaking to one another for a very long time.

You may be right about his mother being the reason he used bitch to describe women.

I recently read "The Old Man and the Sea" again and Ernest definitely deserved the Nobel for writing such a great story.

 

 

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tobycole
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Posted: 20 September 2005 at 3:14pm | IP Logged Quote tobycole

I acknowledge that I am as distant from being an expert on all thing Hemingway as the seventeenth century English Pilgram settlers of New England were distant from the current Massachusetts Liberal residents; however, I have enjoyed reading Hemingway's work and I look forward to future repeat readings.

  I find I am confused by the recent exchange which seems to say that EH generally referred to and thought of woman as bitches. I do not see this in what I have read by EH. 

  Mike, is it generally accepted that EH was a mommy poisoned sexist who hated women and thought of them as a bitty-bin of bitches?  (Please, say it ain't so.)

    By the way Dennis and Woyzeck, this isn't to say that either of you meant to generalize, your comments made me wonder if the one of the reasons my wife likes Fitzgerald over Hemingway is a perception of sexism. She has always said it was because of EH writes about such things as war and hunting. 

  Dennis did your father teach Psychology in the seventies at UMass?  

 



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Dennis Byrne Jr
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Posted: 20 September 2005 at 3:30pm | IP Logged Quote Dennis Byrne Jr

Well, I just wish Ernest had a chance to get sober, but AA wasn't as in-vogue back then. I mean Hemingway probably would have benefited if he gotten sober in his late 30's or early 40's.

I read "To Have and Have Not" earlier this year and just wonder what Ernest thought about blacks since he uses the "n-word" very liberally throughout the novel, but then I read the first 150 or so pages of "Islands in the Stream" and he writes endearingly about his black house servant.

My father worked for 3M for a long time starting in 1968.

 

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tobycole
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Posted: 20 September 2005 at 4:21pm | IP Logged Quote tobycole

Dennis, I  thought I would ask because your first names matched up too.  Thanks for the reply.

   I think EH reflects the way society was at the time.  It was not unusual for people to drink heavily, as if they were trying to catch up for lost time during the prohibition years, nor was it unusual for them to matter of factly use words that today are pretty emotionally charged and taboo.  



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woyzeck9
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Posted: 21 September 2005 at 12:12am | IP Logged Quote woyzeck9

Hemingway deals with very male oriented issues. When I was in college
writing classes, many females loved his style, but his themes often
seemed cold, unfeeling, and distant to them. Or many times, they just
saw the toughness on the surface of his stories and not the vulnerability
of the male characters.

And about the other point, EH loved working people and poor people and
Cuba has a large population of blacks. That word was just different then
than it is now.

Yes, To Have and Have Not is grittier, maybe less refined and proper than
Islands in the Stream. But that's one of the reasons I like it better!

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hijo
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Posted: 21 September 2005 at 12:17am | IP Logged Quote hijo

Please note that revered father of the American novel, Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain) made liberal use of the "n" word to describe blacks in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn as well as Tom Sawyer.

That novelists might be afraid to repeat language as it is used conversationally - even among those who pretend to be without any social or gender bias - is just a chilling sign of the times, I'm afraid. It would be just as bad for a writer to liberally use non-politically correct language just to make a point.

Art, hopefully, reflects life, at least in some respects. Quite a few Hemingway analysts recently, in fact, have been noting his affection for Ring Lardner and H.L. Mencken - both of whom were known to use language likely unacceptable to EH's mother who it seems to me may have been far more interested in appearances to her friends and neighbors and others she wanted to impress than the use of any particular words.

There appears to be very little doubt - quotations included - that EH had a sensitivity toward people as well as language, despite some apparent need to portray himself often as bigger etc than he was. There equally appears to be little doubt about what he thought about his mother - though it certainly would be a sweeping generalization to suggest he hated women, or thought them all female dogs.

The "b" word, I note with some sadness, appears quite back in vogue for everything these days - often in the form of white professional or at least middle-class men emulating prison slang. And their kids, of course.

Tobycole: I suggest you have your wife re-read A Farewell To Arms, and even The Sun Also Rises, to get a better feel of the sorts of women EH not only respected, but made into his heroines (Pilar in particular, as well as I still contend Lady Brett Ashley).

Addendum: this does not in any way conflict with an earlier post of mine suggesting that if all conversation or writing boils down to a few "shocking" words, rather than correct and accurate portrayal of someone's natural speech, then it merely indicates the extremely limited vocabulary of the speaker - if not the writer - and a distinct lack of imagination.

Allbest,
hijo
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tobycole
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Posted: 21 September 2005 at 6:48am | IP Logged Quote tobycole

hijo, thank you for the suggestion. 

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Mike Galvin
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Posted: 21 September 2005 at 9:46am | IP Logged Quote Mike Galvin

Good points Hijo. I would also suggest that folks remember the time period in which these works were written. This was the 1920s & 1930s, not the 1960s. "Political Correctness" had not seen the light of day. Anyone questioning Hemingway's philosophy on race should read Green Hills Of Africa, True At First Light and probably Under Kilimanjaro (although I have yet to obtain a copy).
And I will add that it is my opinion that Catherine Barkley is the true hero of A Farewell To Arms as well as the women characters Hijo has written of.
It is sad to see that the terms bitch and nigger have found their way back into the popular vocabulary of todays youth (do I sound like our parents?)especially in today's popular "music" (and I use that term loosely).

Mike

Edited by Mike Galvin on 21 September 2005 at 3:10pm
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