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  •  I think it is well known.... (6+ / 0-)

    ....or at least generally perceived that Hemingway didn't think of himself as much of a man sometimes. He had very high standards for what that meant. Refusing to let his standards flag is what made him kill himself, I think. As for the flagging, he wrote about that it The Sun Also Rises.

    I think he was genuinely "macho" by our standards today and, although he threw himself into actual battles with actual fascists, he wouldn't pass muster with those who expect writers of another age to be role models for today.

    I think he brings this up hilariously in the Partisan Review interview when he cites a litany of great poets and writers who are anything but models for living: Rimbaud, Verlaine, etc.

    You want great writing AND a perfect person, too?

    I don't think Hemingway had a feminine side as such or that he was hiding anything. In fact, in writing he was brave about his vulnerabilities. That was rare for a man. It was his vulnerability, I think, and not his femininity that set him apart.

    He was of that great age when living it and being it and writing it were one. And when he couldn't do those things anymore, he did the noble thing and shot himself.

    Great diary about a great American. Thanks.

    If you hate government, don't run for office in that government.

    by Bensdad on Sat Mar 23, 2013 at 11:51:45 AM PDT

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    •  Good points, Brecht and Bensdad. (5+ / 0-)

      I'm probably less interested in how he viewed his own "vulnerability" or assessed his own "femininity" as much as in how he viewed and constructed the category of "women" and "feminine"--in his works and in his personal life.

    •  "Refusing to let his standards flag is what made (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bookgirl, Bensdad, RiveroftheWest, KenBee

      him kill himself, I think." Yes. He was feeling less of a man, less in control, less stable, positive and productive. I wonder how much of this crumpling of spirit came directly from being unable to write.

      I don't think Hemingway had a feminine side as such or that he was hiding anything. In fact, in writing he was brave about his vulnerabilities. That was rare for a man. It was his vulnerability, I think, and not his femininity that set him apart.
      This vulnerability/femininity issue is at the heart of our disagreement, and also at the heart of Hemingway's personality, I think. But you and I are seeing femininity differently.

      There are people who have very little femininity in them. But I don't think you can be a great artist, or a fully developed, complex and complete human being, without having a significant feminine side. Now, you don't have to be David Bowie - you can have a feminine side that you don't need to act out, that's fully integrated into your personality. I'd say that even Bruce Springsteen has a strong feminine side - and that he's a fuller and more balanced human and artist because of it. Unlike Hemingway, he's comfortable with tenderness and intimacy.

      You don't have to wear dresses to be feminine, you just need to acknowledge and express the whole of who you already are. We already have X chromosomes, we're genetically hard-wired with two sides to us.

      I'm not an expert on this stuff. But there is an idea that rings true to me, that people who are caught up in power and personality tend to project their perceived weaknesses onto others. So stiff white men, instead of owning their vulnerabilities, pour them into their own ideas of women or of colored people in exotic lands, and then they see these others as inferior to their own proud selves.

      If, as you say, Hemingway was brave in facing up to, expressing, and finally owning and integrating his vulnerabilities, this made him more complete than the macho man he played in public - in my estimation, a more real man. I do see this emotional sensitivity in his writing, which is deeper because of it.

      But it seems to me that Hemingway wasn't brave enough to own this sensitivity in his daily life. As you say, Hemingway "didn't think of himself as much of a man sometimes". On his best days, he put this frailty into characters he wrote; on his worst days, he projected it onto people who cared about him. I think he beat up on Fitzgerald so much because Fitzgerald was so visibly, so pathetically, the weak and "womanly" man that Hemingway was terrified of being.

      He did live in an age of shallow, sexist stereotypes. Perhaps if he'd been born half a century later, he'd have grown up better rounded. But then I'm not sure that he would have been Hemingway. His struggling made him who he was.

      "Every man has a right to utter what he thinks truth" Samuel Johnson

      by Brecht on Sat Mar 23, 2013 at 01:49:24 PM PDT

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