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mainevent025
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Posted: 26 October 2006 at 12:30pm | IP Logged Quote mainevent025

I was wondering what might have caused hemingway to write the way he did? Was it historical, peronal, soical cicumstances and how did it reflect in his work?
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Peter Krynicki
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Posted: 27 October 2006 at 10:50am | IP Logged Quote Peter Krynicki

The conventional wisdom is that Hemingway's style was most affected by his work as a reporter and foreign correspondant, but I think that he was mor influenced by his friendship with Ezra Pound in Paris. Pound was basically a poet and Hemingway was writing prose, but the former said that poetry should read like prose and the latter said that prose should read like poetry. I think what Pound menat was that poetry should not be restricted by a blind adherance to meter and rhyme and that rather the perfect single word or a few words should be used to convey feeling. See Imagism. Hemingway learned that prose should read like poetry in the sens that the words should flow upon the page and the tongue, almost being musical.  For example...

"In the later summer of that year we lived in a house in a village that looked across the river and the plain to the mountains. In the bed of the river there were pebbles and boulders, dry and white in the sun, and the water was clear and swiftly moving and blue in the channels. Troops went by the house and down the road and the dust they raised powdered the leaves of the trees. The trunks of the trees too were dusty and the leaves fell early that year and we saw the troops marching along the road and the dust rising and leaves, stirred by the breeze, falling and the soldiers marching and afterward the road bare and white except for the leaves."

could be rendered...

"In the later summer of that year

we lived in a house in a village that looked across the river and the plain to the mountains.

In the bed of the river

there were pebbles and boulders, dry and white in the sun, and the water was clear and swiftly moving and blue in the channels.

Troops went by the house

and down the road and the dust they raised powdered the leaves of the trees.

The trunks of the trees too were dusty

and the leaves fell early that year and we saw the troops marching along the road and the dust rising and leaves, stirred by the breeze, falling and the soldiers marching and afterward the road bare and white except for the leaves."

Prose with structure and flow = poetry.

Pjk

 

    

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hijo
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Posted: 27 October 2006 at 8:57pm | IP Logged Quote hijo

There was also a movement of sorts afoot to liken prose and poetry, the "language arts," to other forms of art, such as painting - particularly painting, with viewpoint, "color," and expression of a view or image.

Hemingway wasn't the first to write in a "realistic" style, though he learned fast and well from others, such as the news reporters mentioned. (see the Kansas City Star style sheet of the time, which admonished against the use of adjectives, etc).

Already writing in a similar, ground-breaking vein of particular note and interest to Hemingway was his old and older Chicago acquaintance, an ad writer by the name of Sherwood Anderson (who wrote letters of introduction for Hemingway to mentor-type writers including Pound in Paris).

Gertrude Stein was particularly working on writing prose as a form of poetry, while Hemingway sought to incorporate all aspects of other arts into the written word: thus the use of sensual description to convey "feeling" and emotion, the particular attention to details such as weather and even color to trigger images in the readers' mind, and the use of universal or at least wide-spread symbolism to further trigger readers to "experience" that which he wrote about.

But at the time what it all boiled down to was even more viceral: it was (or at least now can be seen clearly as) a literary reaction to the flurid, mellow-dramatic and overblown prose (as well as poetry) of the late 19th Century that was seen as partly responsible (through its romanticism) for the virtual waste of lives and destruction of much of agricultural Europe that was World War I. In short, the effect of the industrial age of mass production - and ability to manufacture weapons of mass destruction - upon young people, particularly men, brought up in a romantic view of home, country, religion, women, and ultimately, war.

The prose of the period "between the wars," largely represented by Hemingway but perhaps popular because of its timing as well as its novelty - struck a chord particularly with readers who had been over-bombarded with romantic propaganda and wanted to see writing they could "believe" in.

This movement, in addition to being foreshadowed by Anderson's own prose (see Winesburg, Ohio), appeared to be the result of a confluence of all sorts of artists - as well as wealthy, interested patrons - in one particular city in the world that had both romantic history and modern needs, that suffered from a war-weakened economy and attractive rate of foreign exchange with especially the post-World War I U.S. dollar.

Writers, painters, dancers, dramatists, musicians all flocked to Paris with the booming U.S. dollar in the 1920s, the freedom afforded those people - to drink, to create - seen more attainable in Paris as it struggled to revive itself after the war than in parochial, Protestant, prohibition U.S. towns and cities.

Drink - known to remove inhibitions - cheap and legal, and an environment that actually appeared to promote adventure and the breaking of taboos, all contributed to an environment conducive to those wanting to create something "new" in whatever art form they chose, in a socially liberal part of the world.

As noted before, it is worth recalling that Archibald MacLeish, who became U.S. Poet Lauret, and who ran the U.S. Library of Congress, started in Paris as a painter along with his friend Gerald Murphy.

Pound was working on trying to squeeze the essential meaning out of particular words; Joyce was working at using words as symbol and metaphor even more than conveying their original meaning; Stein chose to try and combine both ideas in her writing; Hemingway looked at paintings by Paul Cezane, and observed the large number of ex-patriates (foreigners living away from their home countries) in Paris, and knew how to write not "The Great American Novel," but a great, international novel by an American.

Or so, at least, goes my theory.

Best,
hijo
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Peter Krynicki
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Posted: 28 October 2006 at 11:28am | IP Logged Quote Peter Krynicki

Funny how this reminds me of a book (that I just finished and what don't remind me of a book?)

Jazz Modernism...

http://www.amazon.com/Jazz-Modernism-Ellington-Armstrong-Mat isse/dp/0300102739/sr=8-1/qid=1162049169/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/002 -4758866-9357611?ie=UTF8&s=books

He mentions Hemingway a little but there is a fascinating section that compares Joyce to Louis Armstrong.

Pjk 

 



Edited by Peter Krynicki on 28 October 2006 at 11:29am
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hijo
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Posted: 28 October 2006 at 4:49pm | IP Logged Quote hijo

"What is Truth?"
"Beauty."
"What is Beauty?"
"Truth."
"Do you ever lie?"
"Of course."
"Then what is Truth?"

(excerpt from an actual test given in the early 1980s by Prof. Wilmot P. Ragsdale, a part of "The Lost Generation" and friend of both Ernest and Hadley).

Or, as Gerty said: "A rose is a rose is a rose is a..."

Art is art. I am as fascinated listening to Carlos Barbosa Lima describe how a piece intended to reflect a particular locale was composed as I am listening to a writer explain what inspired him or her to put words together in any particular way.

Jack Kerouac wrote a famous essay on his writing process, describing it similar to jazz trumpeting - not like Louis Armstrong, but more like Dizzy Gillespie. "You just blow, man. Blow." He wrote on large rolls of print, what we used to have in newswire printers (teletype machines), as did Kurt Vonnegut.

Let no one presume writing is any less a deliberate act than committing paint to canvass, or instrument to notes. In its most common form, it is a craft. In its elevated form - literature, the stuff that lasts for centuries, because it touches a common chord in humanity - it is art, like any other.

Where does art come from? There's a question for another time, preferably with flavorful food and alcohol to assist in the thought process as well as the dreaming process.

I know what Paul would say: ultimately, it is a gift. And regardless of whether his ideas of the origin of that gift are believed or not, he is correct. It is as much a gift as is music, and aesthetics. And breathing.

To appreciate such gifts, one must needs appreciate beauty - in the way the sun falls through a tree, or an emaciated plant manages to produce a pitiful flower with any color, or the way a newborn looks peacefully sleeping in its mother's arms.

White is as much the absence of color as black. It's the different shades that the eye notices most, and that makes the mind curious. Or should.

To answer the original question: what made Hemingway write the way he did - "Was it historical, personal, social cicumstances and how did it reflect in his work?" - the shortest most direct answer is "yes."

EH wrote the way he did because, ultimately, of who he was. Who he was came ultimately from all the above mentioned influences and circumstances. Would a clone produce similar awe inspiring work? I suggest not. Because what the clone lacks while containing the same genetic code is the same stimuli that result in the reaction, the view, the way of incorporating experience into explanation.

It is for the same reason that only Larry can write what Larry plans to write, or anyone else for that matter - presuming what is written is from experience, or perception at the very least based on all the things that make each person an individual.

"NO man is an island, in and of itself," doesn't mean no one is unique. It means that, while being unique, each individual has a function, a role, and is connected to the whole - which is Mankind.

Sorry if my answer doesn't make your grade, mainevent025 - this is just another example of why, ultimately, students need to do their own research and come up with their own answers. Because any teacher worth their salt isn't interested in a pat, formulaic response, but in your most well-thought-out, reasoned, referrenced view point.

Best,
hijo

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