[Marxism] Hemingway was a monster

Greg McDonald gregmc59 at gmail.com
Tue Aug 1 02:03:52 MDT 2017


Sounds more like a typical redneck than anything else. Never been a fan of
trophy hunting.

On Mon, Jul 31, 2017 at 8:49 PM, Louis Proyect via Marxism <
marxism at lists.csbs.utah.edu> wrote:

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> BOOKFORUM JUNE/JULY/AUG 2017
>
> Appetite for Destruction
> Ernest Hemingway’s death trip
>
> by JOY WILLIAMS
>
> The unusually striking photograph on the cover of Mary V. Dearborn’s new
> biography Ernest Hemingway shows the writer in his prime in 1933 sitting on
> the cushioned stern of a boat, possibly his thirty-eight-foot cabin cruiser
> the Pilar, and aiming a pistol at the camera. He always carried guns on
> board to shoot sharks or, when bored or annoyed, seabirds and turtles. He
> was thirty-four when this photo was taken and he had recently discovered
> Key West and the fabulous Gulf Stream with its gigantic marlin, sailfish,
> and tarpon. He fished and fished and fished, insatiable. There were the
> heroic fighting fish, the trophy fish—some of which he used as punching
> bags after they were strung up on the dock—but all provided pleasure. When
> a colorful school of dorado appeared on the surface around the Pilar,
> Hemingway and his party landed eighteen of them in five minutes. They’d be
> used as fertilizer for his wife’s flower beds. He referred to this time,
> the decade of the ’30s, as his “belle epoque,” for there was not only the
> happy scouring of the Gulf Stream, but also the hunting in Wyoming for elk
> and antelope (for lighter fare he shot prairie dogs from a moving car) and
> the safari in Africa, where lions, leopards, cheetahs, and oryx could be
> collected, though it rankled him when others killed bigger animals than he
> did, or those with darker manes, bigger racks, or, in the case of rhinos,
> larger horns.
>
> “I like to shoot a rifle and I like to kill and Africa is where you do
> that,” he said.
>
> But killing could be fun anywhere. In Sun Valley, Idaho, he and two of his
> young sons, Gregory and Patrick, visiting from school, shot four hundred
> jackrabbits during one adventure. Years later, another son, Jack, would
> reminisce that “one of the most memorable moments of my lifelong
> relationship with my father” took place in Cuba on the roof of the Finca
> Vigía, Hemingway’s home there, where they drank pitchers of martinis and
> shot “great quantities of buzzards.” The highlight for Patrick, “the last
> really great, good time we all had together,” was “dropping hand grenades
> on turtles” from the deck of the Pilar during the bizarre sub-hunting days
> of the ’40s, the acts “justified by the need to learn how long it was
> between when you pulled out the pin and when it went off.”
>
> It is said that Hemingway never killed an elephant—he admired their
> fidelities and social structures apparently—but his youngest son, Gregory,
> the “troubled” child, the son who after several wives and eight children
> underwent sex-reassignment surgery and died in a Florida jail as “Gloria”
> Hemingway, shot eighteen elephants in a month. It’s possible he shot them
> to annoy his father, whom he considered a “gin-soaked abusive monster,” but
> he also claimed it was just damn relaxing to kill elephants. The activity
> made him less anxious about things.
>
> Gregory wrote a book about “Papa.” So did his half-brother Jack. So did
> Hemingway’s brother Leicester, and Hemingway’s fourth wife, Mary. In his
> younger years he was quite charismatic and people who knew him then
> remembered that and wrote about it. The bulls, the booze, the fresh air,
> the slopes, the streams and war stories. And many other books have been
> written about Hemingway—there is Carlos Baker’s chummy hagiography; Michael
> Reynolds’s deep life; Jeffrey Meyers’s woundy thesis, the one that bothered
> Raymond Carver so; Paul Hendrickson’s spirited, speculative boating party;
> James Mellow’s scholarly and overblown production (“He had been at the
> center of a cultural revolution unequalled in its wide-reaching effects on
> Western culture except by the Italian Renaissance . . .”); Kenneth Lynn’s
> psycho-hugie; Peter Griffin’s focus on the early, enchanted, good-looking
> days. Even so, it’s been fifteen years since we’ve had a major new study of
> the man. But now, with Dearborn’s grimly astonished book, we do.
>
> One approaches the life of Hemingway not with excitement but with an
> anxious defensive duty. After all there are a great many writers who
> learned a great deal from his work—the early work always—the cleanness of
> the line, the freshness, the solemnity of the sentence, the discoveries
> that restraint and omission allow. Gertrude Stein said that he looked like
> a modern but smelled like a museum. I don’t smell museum. The word that
> springs to my mind is fetor. The stench of death. Hemingway stared death in
> the face again and again and was proud of it, but it was almost always an
> animal’s death, an animal’s face, a creature’s face, the face of a nature
> he repeatedly diminished, the light and life of which he would extinguish
> over and over.
>
> He killed far more in life than he did in fiction, obsessively,
> methodically, in the sanctified slaughter referred to as sport.
>
> (Behind a paywall. Contact me if you want the full review.)
>
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