Skip to main content

Bugger Hemingway and his phoney machismo - the football season has started! Rejoice.

To Bodmin last night with sister-in-law and brother-in-law Julie and Denis and Denis’s friend Leo to the folk club. Folk really isn’t my thing, but I do like good guitar playing, and these two guys, Jimmy Aldridge and Sid Goldsmith with guitar, banjo and squeezebox between them, play well. In fact, the music was excellent, it’s just the kind of singing and to a less extent the lyrics which leave me a tad cold.

Denis and Leo are both Irish, though they first met when after they had moved to England to work. Leo likes his James Joyce and last night presented me with, in two volumes, Ulysses in German (I am half-German, speak German and went to German schools for four years). He’s already given me Portrait Of The Artist in German - which I have not yet read - so I had better get on with them.

For some odd reason I suspect all three will be more readable in German than English, although I really couldn’t tell you why. I can honestly say that - strictly speaking - I have read every word of Ulysses, but each just once and quite apart from not understanding a word, I didn’t enjoy it. But that was in my last year at college when I was 22 so perhaps I’ll have more luck this time. Or perhaps not.

The Hemingway thing is progressing - now on to a book (an a ‘Critical Lives’ series) by a Verna Kale on Hemingway. It’s good reading. Although I am by now quite familiar with the course of that dick’s life, each such book adds more colour and nuance to my picture of him.

I have also, reluctantly, but from a sense of duty, ordered his short story collections In Our Time and Men Without Women. And I stress ‘from a sense of duty’. Hemingway did have a gift of sorts, though I still can’t see how he was ‘a genius’, but in other respects he couldn’t bloody write and much of what he writes - a Moveable Feast which I also recently read being a good case in point as well as his Art Of The Short Story - are so bloody jejeune that you really have to wonder why the myth persists. There is, of course, the other possibility - and this does worry me - that it is I who is simply to dense, insensitive, untutored, I don’t know what, to see what ‘makes Hemingway great’.

I’ve decided that if I’m going to do this thing properly, I’m pretty much obliged to read some of his stories, even though the piece began simply as a gasp of astonishment that anyone could think The Sun Also Rises is ‘a masterpiece’ and Hemingway ‘a writer of genius’.

Add to that now - and I realised this after finishing Leonard Leff’s book about how Hemingway’s reputation was the result of the growth in the 1920s of Hollywood, magazines and the cult of the celebrity (about which Hemingway was pretty schizophrenic: part of him hated it or so he said, but that didn’t stop him from subscribing to a news clipping service) - that the ‘lost generation’ angle was, at best, not picked up at the time judging by reviews of the novel and, at worst, was grafter on later by the academic industry.

A while ago, while reading Kale’s book, there occurred to me an image which for me sums up what it is like reading Hemingway: if you have ever walked across a field that has been occupied by cattle for several months in all weathers from which they have now been removed and the earth has now dried out, you will know that what
superficially looks reasonably smooth is anything but. You stumble and trip from tussock to tussock, each of which hides quite a deep hole into which you plunge your foot and often lose your balance. It is not easy to walk across and certainly no pleasure. That’s what bloody Hemingway’s ‘prose’ is like. OK, you might attempt to justify it by insisting ‘but that’a his style’, but to that I respond: ‘Well, it’s a fucking awful, fucking juvenile, fucking often unreadable style.’

For this long whatever its called - critique, monograph, whatever, but which I think of as ‘the Hemingway bollocks I’m doing at the moment’ - I have tracked down various pieces and posted them on the net so that I can give links in the piece when finished and posted to act as appendices. You can find Hemingways’ Art Of The Short Story here. Were you told it had been written by an undergraduate, you wouldn’t doubt that for a minute.

. . .

I was going to post on Facebook, but have left it too late so I shall do so here, the following:

A long sigh of relief could be heard last night even as most of Britain was plunged into darkness because of two power supply failures when a whistle was blown, a ball was kicked and the 2019/20 English Premier League season got underway.

Last night it was Liverpool v Norwich, which, predictably, Norwich lost. Tomorrow, it’s Manchester United - my team - against Chelsea, a match which might indicate what kind of season both can look forward to.

United will have Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in charge for his first full season as manager - and the bizarre brilliant start and disappointing end to his short tenure as manager at the end of last season after taking over from Jose Mourhino and wondering how he will fair will focus attention on his side. Solskjaer is a former United player and hero, and Chelsea have their own former player and hero in charge: Frank Lampard, who did bloody well for Derby. So that game will be interesting.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

To publish posthumously and squeeze a bit more money for the estate of the writer and his publisher (even though the work might be crap) or not? Decisions, decisions, though as it turned out not a difficult one for Charles Scribner’s Sons, of New York, publishers to the gentry

Below are around 400 words from Joan Didion’s piece — the opening — on the practice of publishing Hemingway’s work posthumously. It appeared in the November 9, 1998, issue of the New Yorker. NB I had never heard of Joan Didion, either, but I gather she is — she is now 85 — a journalist, essayist and writer who is well-known in the United States.

I should preface this by saying — and this is relevant — that literary criticism is and cannot be a science. In fact, that is true of all art criticism. Well, that’s obvious, you might counter, of course it isn’t, how can it be? But hang on: even those who agree with me often inadvertently behave as if it were a science; or if not exactly ‘a science’, a discipline akin to a science which commands — rightly, many would insist — the respect we pay to science; and that just as the various sciences have their acknowledged experts who know more than you and I about their field, so criticism has folk akin to such experts who know more about their fi…

The Great Motivators in Choosing a Real Estate Agent or Broker

Precisely for what reason should a customer in business land list their property with you available to be purchased or for rent? On the off chance that you don't have a particular answer that is better than the nonexclusive thoughts that numerous specialists have, at that point you have an issue. This issue will show itself in a low transformation pace of new postings. So how about we get intensely into what you think you are to and for the property showcase.

Despite the fact that you may work for a particular business realtor or specialist, it is you exclusively that will drive more business and commissions your direction. That implies you should explicitly be superior to your opposition on an individual premise and that your market information, property information, arrangement aptitudes, and property speculation mindfulness must be better than the others that you rival, and have the option to demonstrate it.

In business land deals, renting, and property the board, make explici…

Letter (email) to my daughter

By chance, I came across this, a ‘letter’ (actually an email) to my daughter when she was at the end of her first year at university and unhappy in the course she was in. Because she was born in August, she was young for her year. At the time (about May, 2014) I was on holiday in Mallorca and had stopped off for a lager and a cigar at a café somewhere or other of the inland towns. I had with me my works laptop (I can’t think why but I did). My daughter messaged me because she was in a complete tizzy about whether even to carry on with her uni course or not and was very unhappy. About 1,300 miles away I was trying to advise her and cheer her up. This is the email I sent.

Quite why I am posting it here and why I think it would be OK to do so, I don’t know (although I know none of my family reads this blog) but it does occur to me that what I have to say is in some ways also generally true.

I have not altered it except where indicated in [square brackets]. I feel it would be dishonest to d…