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Literature, Poetry, and Books

Mocking Hemingway, with Venom Back

I have been reading into Poisoned Pens: Literary Invective from Amis to Zola, when I came upon this by Max Eastman about Ernest Hemingway:

"It is of course a commonplace that Hemingway lacks the serene confidence that he is a full-sized man. Most of us too delicately organized babies who grow up to be artists suffer at times from that small inward doubt. But some circumstance seems to have laid upon Hemingway a continual sense of the obligation to put forth evidences of red-blooded masculinity. It must be made obvious not only in the swing of the big shoulders and the clothes he puts on, but in the stride of his prose style and the emotions he permits to come to the surface there. This trait of his character has been strong enough to form the nucleus of a new flavor in English literature, and it has moreover begotten a veritable school of fiction-writers - a literary style, you might say, of wearing false hair on his chest [...]"

The editor notes the following in a footnote:

"These remarks rankled with Hemingway, and he had still not forgotten them four years later when he encountered Max Eastman, writer and critic, in the offices of Scribner's. Hemingway took off his shirt to reveal his chest hair, demanding that Eastman tell him whether it was false or not. Eastman was unable to reply; Hemingway then began unbuttoning Eastman's own shirt to see how much hair was there-Eastman's chest was hairless. Eastman tried to laugh the matter off but Hemingway continued to goad him, asking what Eastman had meant by calling him impotent. The exchange led to a fight in which, by some accounts, Hemingway wrestled Eastman to the ground. Hemingway told a reporter that Eastman had 'jumped at me like a woman--clawing, you know, with his open hands'."

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As my first substantive post on NLT, I feel compelled to address a topic upon which I am decidedly unqualified to speak.  Undaunted, however, I proceed - for the occasion to opine on classical literature arises far too infrequently.  Se... Read More