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They remind me of the many first-class writers who have consciously altered, combined, and retouched real facts to provide us with pleasures of the imagination.To recall the model is to see how life verges on imagination.Hemingway used to say that he wanted to write a novel about his home town, Oak Park, but could not for fear of hurting living people.
The reader of Hemingway's posthumous memoir of Paris in the twenties, A Moveable Feast (Scribner's, $4.95), who of course already knows a lot about Hemingway, quickly suspects that whatever may have been the original facts behind Hemingway's ruptures with Gertrude Stein, F.
Scott Fitzgerald, Ford Madox Ford, and Hadley Richardson (the first Mrs. The book is too splendidly, too artfully written; the chapters are sketches and anecdotes often as fine in their texture as Hemingway's famous stories; the dialogue is too witty; and the real plot of the book -- a young writer's struggles, his success, and the loss of innocence, first marriage, and youthful happiness -- has been used up in so many novels and plays that Hemingway was smart to try this as memoir, though you cannot tell the truth about marriage in an autobiography, for in marriage there are two characters.
He was still testing himself, ritually repeating certain exertions when, in and out of his fiction, he described writers learning their craft as if each were still a young fisherman and camper laboriously making his way, alone, through broken country.
So much impulse to autobiography probably springs from some deeply uneasy sense of one's self as detached from early kindred and natural ties.
But to be this much concerned with the exact feel of pebbles in your boots and the shock with which your shoulder can receive the recoil of a gun, with the coldness of a martini glass in your hand and the brightness of the stars overhead as you make love, is to identify the strength of writing with the presentation of the self.
So much emphasis on the self as artistic subject is to turn other people into irrelevancies and distractions.
Ernest Hemingway constantly used real people and situations in his fiction.
He also liked to write "personal" books about bullfighting in Spain and hunting in Africa, as he liked to write about wars he had seen and to make pronouncements about other writers.
Romanticism, psychology, and middle-class solicitude for oneself have made up the background of our interest in Hemingway.
And it is the intense, almost clinical accuracy with which Hemingway has been able to convey the self's sensations, as if each were called up for some separate erogenous zone, that is behind the physical excitement with which one reads Hemingway even at his worst.