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Hemingway's Timely Resurgence

Paul Guillory

Posted on December 21, 2018 16:54

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The great American writer may be as popular as ever and it could have something to do with our current state of affairs at home and abroad.

Ernest Hemingway was writing his still popular first novel, The Sun Also Rises, when The Lost Generation, as he and his contemporaries were known, were still dealing with the aftershocks of the international calamity now known as WWI (and the subject of Peter Jackson's popular new documentary They Shall Not Grow Old).

Americans, also, are still rattled by 9-11 and its fallout. Since that fateful day, war in two separate theaters continues as well as several limited conflicts on the periphery.  We’ve nearly ridden out a deep international economic recession and, most recently, witnessed the near dissolution of the multi-decades-old establishments within our two major political parties. 

In 1926, in a period of relative calm following The Great War—the calm would not last and tensions smoldered beneath the surface until the flame ignited again in 1940—Hemingway began putting the finishing touches on his break out novel and the one which would launch him on the path to becoming one of, if not the, most renowned American novelist of all time. 

Its opening chapters still read like a Sunday take from a writer of our modern literary establishment at almost any of our most elevated American outlets—evidence of his present influence—a direct, tell-it-like-it-is style, of brevity and simplicity and just the right touch of irony that keeps your attention fixed to the line.

Before Hemingway, some literature seemed celebrated not in spite of its dense prose style, but precisely because of it, and if you couldn’t understand what you were reading, that just proved how good it was. Hemingway upended all that.  Somehow, only 27 years old, he had the notion, and necessary confidence, to write what he liked and not like who he wanted to be. For someone with as large an ambition as his, this took great courage. 

Hemingway saw ideas and the natural world—you and me and everything in between—as intellectually appealing on their own merits. Overly affected rhetoric only diluted the connection between the emotion he wanted to convey and the written word, his chosen instrument for doing so. A writer should be, rather, a conduit to nature, whereby the best way to complete the circuit was to recognize that the circuit existed and get out of the way as best as possible. That is how Hemingway understood his unique talent and that is what he offered, and still offers, the reader. 

His need for simplicity was doubtless influenced by the disastrous consequences of the meddling political and social ideas which had gone far towards the decimation of his peers during the war to end all wars. In our present anxiety about the global state of affairs, his simple and back to basics style is still drawing many more into his already wide orbit.

Paul Guillory

Posted on December 21, 2018 16:54

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Source: Screen Rant
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