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Monday, July 22, 2019

Reading Hemingway is the perfect antidote to our hyper-sensitive times | American literature - The Telegraph

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Stefan Boscia, The Telegraph says, Today marks the 120th birthday of the great Ernest Hemingway.

Hemingway working on his book For Whom the Bell Tolls at the Sun Valley Lodge, Idaho, in December 1939
Photo: Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository

Many pigeonhole 'Papa', as he was affectionately known, as little more than a hypermasculine alcoholic who was overly economical with his prose. Reading his novels, however, is to marvel at the unrivalled emotion and sense of adventure.

Although he chooses stereotypically macho settings – bullfighting, war, boxing, boozing – it is in the prose’s hinterland that his musings on love, tragedy and grief reveal his profound genius. And in these hyper-sensitive times, he still has much to teach us. I first read A Farewell to Arms aged 17 and in the subsequent nine years I have revisited him sporadically, always gaining more from the experience.

I would recommend his works, in particular, to my fellow Millennials. Hemingway's values – his appreciation of beauty in all its forms, intellectual curiosity and unquenchable desire to see the world – are sorely lacking in this era of risk-aversion and extreme wokeness...

Reading a novel like For Whom the Bell Tolls, for example, is an epic experience and a great lesson in the worth of sacrifice, stoicism and standing up for your beliefs regardless of circumstance. Can my generation really say that we aspire to these attitudes and principles? I believe the answer is too often a resounding “no”.

Hemingway’s protagonists give a master-class in dealing with life’s disappointments and heartbreak, and demonstrate the virtue of confronting tragedies steadfastly and reflecting on setbacks with an inquiring, open mind. The millennial tendency to explode with outraged indignation at the smallest offence  is an unhealthy response to life’s inevitable slights and misunderstandings and does not bode well for the future. By contrast, characters like Frederic Henry in A Farewell to Arms or Jake Barnes in The Sun Also Rises show how to live a balanced existence of quiet forbearance in the face of unimaginable trauma.
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Additional resources

Hemingway in the cabin of his boat Pilar, off the coast of Cuba, c. 1950
Photo: Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository
Ernest Hemingway - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Source: The Telegraph