Much of it is about the troubling masculinity of post-war America. The sensitive issue of the inability to love. And its representation as non-aesthetic content. Yes, Hemingway is bigger than the sum of its parts. The Ernest Hemingway legacy has passed into poetic mythology creating an industry unto itself. The expert hunter/fisherman,wild boozer, the sexual intimidator, the wise fatherly figure. The persona was shaped to fit the context: part real, part myth, a good male marketing vehicle and a lot of old fashioned baloney. His popular reputation for misogyny, hairy chested machoism and a paragon of white male patriarchy incarnated the swaggering hegemonic and imperialist tendencies that the American male wanted to see in themselves, and was equally cultivated by Hemingway though the image and the man was connected by ambiguity and contradiction. Ultimately, he fostered an unattainable persona of postwar masculinity based on unsupportable male dominance fantasies and female subservience.
In any event, Hemingway is part of our collective national unconscious. We have to deal with it. Principally, by forcing our own projections of anxiety and fear into a composite individual interpretation of Hemingway. Gov. Rick Perry can be described as the Hemingway candidate. Hemingway is present whether we consciously bring him there or not and our unwillingness to let go of Hemingway is even more telling. His gift for writing was also equally matched for imaginatively using what has been termed the mechanism of fame, novel in the case of Hemingway since it almost exclusively centered around the concept of masculinity.
Robert Fulford:It’s curious that no one has made anything, in a fictional way, out of what we might call The Other Hemingway, someone his readers have heard about but barely know, someone he hoped to explain but never managed to get on paper. This Hemingway contradicted the better-known version by suggesting unresolved depths of feeling and a feminine side to his nature. We can glimpse him occasionally, through a glass darkly, in The Garden of Eden, a novel published a quarter of a century after his death. In 2008 it was the basis of an unsuccessful film, with Jack Huston and Mena Suvari as co-stars. Hemingway must have imagined it as a major event in his career….He resembles Hemingway’s image in several ways but in several others they sharply differ. He’s handsome, hard-working and ambitious. He’s delighted to study France and Spain in the 1920s while exploring love with his new wife, Catherine, on their extended honeymoon. He’s also an anti-Hemingway, more hesitant about his views than other Hemingway heroes, and more diffident. He’s dominated by his wife. Unlike any male Hemingway described elsewhere, he’s passive.
Catherine wants to discover sexuality by experimenting with their personalities. She suggests they pretend he’s the woman and she’s the man. She has her hair cut short and gets him to have the same cut done by the same hairdresser. David goes along, both fascinated and reluctant. They dye their hair the same white blonde. They meet a woman named Marita who finds both of them attractive. Catherine has an affair with her and encourages David to do the same. They are all nervous, as their frequent drunkenness suggests, and Catherine begins descending into what looks like madness. David sets to work on an old story from his childhood as a way to pull himself together. Read More:http://arts.nationalpost.com/2011/07/12/fulford-hemingways-enduring-legacy/
Hemingway himself, it appears, seems paralyzed by forces he did not fully recognize and simultaneously was an astute analyst of of that strange dichotomy between male identity and masculinity and its relation with creepy violence and sexual kinkiness. Again, Hemingway fascinates since he incarnates the particular American brand of disavowal…
David M. Earle: … And, Hemingway’s public image itself parallels the conflict between the romantic myth of the 1950s as “the Golden Years” and reality of those years….I came across more and more well known authors, particularly Hemingway, in the men’s adventure magazines. Indeed, there were so many examples by and about Hemingway that I saw there must have been something deeper going on in the culture and with Hemingway as a figure of masculinity. …Read More:http://www.menspulpmags.com/2010/01/all-man-hemingway-author-david-earle.htmla
By disavowal, is meant the refusal to acknowledge those elements of darkness that are ours.With Hemingway, that would have thrown a spanner into the entire image industry. Disavowal, as opposed to repression, is a dividing of the self into a know something/don’t know scenario. In disavowal, the consciousness both retains and banishes something. This is the fascination with Hemingway; the sliding between the homosocial, the homsexual and the volatility of desire both to desire and to be desired. To enjoy the forbidden furtively while denying that it enjoys or knows it. Richard Halpern has called this a short circuiting of ethics. Hemingway is another amble down memory lane, the archetype of when men were men and America could lend itself to a simplicity engaged with wholesome well-being. With Hemingway we contribute to the myth on the level of popular culture; though its almost as thit would be a Kerouac and Ginsberg who would show the alter-ego of the contrived image.
Richard Halpern:For every Rockwell cover on the Saturday Evening Post there were mountains of pulp fiction, men’s and crime magazines, whose lurid cover art often depicted graphic violence and sadomasochism. Some very strange things crawled around in the basement of postwar culture, and it was a big basement—bigger than the house. No doubt the “two cultures” were often patronized by different audiences, but many people who saw a Capra or Doris Day film one day doubtless saw The Mad Ghoul or The Whip Hand the next, and many who displayed the Ladies’ Home Journal or the Saturday Evening Post on their coffee tables stashed copies of less wholesome reading matter elsewhere in their homes. I am less interested in the hypocrisies produced by this culture than in the compartmentalization of mind it bespoke—the fact that people could take the products of the innocence industry seriously while also wallowing in less savory fare. Read More:http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/314405.html