15 seconds of your time!
Four classics so far have been made child friendly by KinderGuides: On The Road, by Jack Kerouac; Breakfast at Tiffany’s, by Truman Capote; Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey—and Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. The stories have been dramatically abbreviated and have large, colorful illustrations. Among the next four classics to be published by KinderGuides are Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, and Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice. Bear in mind, these are being read to 6 to 12-year olds. On the Road, by Jack Kerouac, blessedly omits the drugs, prostitutes and wild parties.
Forbes just published an article by Frank Miniter entitled “A Startling Example of How the Politically Correct Currents Pull Strongly Toward Mediocrity.” It starts out asking if Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, actually can be watered down for young readers, noting that the great dumbing down of the American mind isn’t just underway, but has become a parody of itself.
The KinderGuides’ version of The Old Man and the Sea begins with, “Santiago is an old fisherman who lives in a small village by the sea, on an island called Cuba. Every day he takes his boat far out into the ocean to catch fish. But after 84 days of trolling, he hasn’t caught any fish at all. He is sad.”
Frank Miniter’s article notes further that The Old Man and the Sea is a concise novella as it is, exploring man’s struggle, not just with a fish, but with his mortality. The prose in the original is hardly difficult. The real Hemingway begins, “He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the gulfstream and he had gone eighty-four days now without a fish.” If the word ‘skiff’ is a new and challenging word, there is always the dictionary. At the Forbes article goes on to note, the theme of a man’s struggling, knowing his body is failing him and that inevitably he will be a tragic figure, but that nevertheless he must face his mortality with grace, regardless, is lost in the KinderGuides’ version.
Miniter writes, “Instead of raising children’s knowledge and understanding of these things, this is another example of watering down the education of our youth. Should great paintings also be simplified into cartoon characters? How about plays and music?”
This reminds me of the cartoons—which were designed to be ironic and funny—of condensing of Hemingway’s books into one-minute cartoons. I’ll repost A Farewell to Arms below. (IN FIFTEEN MINUTES SEE INSTAGRAM NOVEL.)
Do you think this is a smart way to introduce children to the classics or just plain ridiculous?
Best to all for the New Year!
14. “Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer.” Barbara Kingsolver.
Christine Whitehead @cwhitehead95 23m23 minutes ago
New FREE contest for writers of historical fiction http://tinyurl.com/zodcsgo . Judged by agent @EliseShaull, via @ChuckSambuchino
Dear Friends: My new novel–The Rage of Plum Blossoms–was just published by Kindle’s own private press. It is available in ebook and paperback on Amazon. There are a few Hemingway references and if you like a mystery with some humor, please check it out. My previous novel, Tell Me When It Hurts, had more Hemingway references as the heroine is a big fan of his. The reviews so far have been good so please see if it might appeal to you.
The book trailer will be out soon. I’ll post it when it is. It came out really well in terms of capturing the mood and it’s short–always a good thing. Thank you so much for reading. Best, Christine
BOOK DESCRIPTION BELOW:
Attorney Quinn Jones is in over her head. Her husband, Jordan Chang, Annapolis grad and superstar businessman, has been found dead outside their Greenwich Village brownstone. He’s wearing clothes that aren’t his, and was last seen at a place he never went while consorting with people he shouldn’t. Since NYPD has labeled Jordan’s death a suicide, Quinn is on her own to uncover the truth. Courtrooms, Quinn knows. Chanel No. 5, horses, frizzy hair, and martial arts, she knows. Murder, she doesn’t know but she’s learning fast in order to stay alive. With a few clues to work with, including a photo of Jordan with a stunning unknown woman and a copy of a 1986 check payable to Jordan for twelve million dollars, Quinn stalks the back streets of Chinatown, haunted by the need to know what happened that day and why.
Thank you again. Love, Christine
Continuation of post regarding my visit to the Kennedy Library, Hemingway Exhibit on Between the Wars
There was an anecdote displayed of an interview that Hemingway had with George Plimpton. Plimpton knew that Hemingway had written the end of A Farewell to Arms something like 39 times. Plimpton, a writer himself, asked if there was a technical problem that stumped him and why he kept re-writing the end. What was the problem? What was the hold-up???
Hemingway, in typical succinct style, replied “getting the words right.”
Finally, a famous quote from A Farewell to Arms (1929) was posted. Most people know the first sentence, but not the next one. It reads, “The world breaks everyone and after many are strong in the broken places.” Most people stop there.
It goes on, however, “But those that will not break, it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these, you can be sure it will kill you too, but there will be no special hurry.”
Thus we go from something that sounds somewhat upbeat and promising to a rather grim conclusion. Still, above all Hemingway believed that men can’t be defeated even in death.
Finally, his mantra for writing was the following:
I was in Boston for a few days and took the opportunity to visit the Hemingway collection at the JFK Library and Museum. It’s about 20 minutes depending on traffic from downtown in a cab but shuttle buses travel out there more inexpensively as well. It is right on the water and very modern as you can see.
The present exhibit at the Hemingway Collection is entitled Hemingway Between the Wars, which covers much if not most of his career. The Old Man and the Sea, The Dangerous Summer, A Moveable Feast, among others came after World War II, (some posthumously. Hem died in 1961 and A Moveable Feast came out in 1964, edited primarily by Hemingway’s surviving wife, Mary. Garden of Eden was also posthumously published.) but The Sun Also Rises, Men Without Women, A Farewell to Arms, The Snows of Kilimanjaro, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and many of the more famous short stories, i.e. The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber, Green Hills of Africa, all were done between the wars.
Although Hemingway had his first great romance (with Agnes Von Kurowsky, his attending nurse after Hemingway was injured) during the war–not between the wars, the famous photo of her and Hemingway was in the exhibit. While I knew well that F. Scott Fitzgerald had done some serious editing on The Sun Also Rises and cut out the beginning and told Hemingway to start at a different place—and the rest is history—they had the actual letter Fitzgerald wrote to Hemingway expressing his disappointment at the beginning and making his suggestion to cut in strong terms. Uncharacteristically and probably because he was young and not yet confident, Hemingway did not resist and took Fitzgerald’s advice, much to the improvement of the book.
There also was a list of titles that Hemingway considered for The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber (1936). For those of you not familiar with this story, it is set in Africa and was published in September 1936 in Cosmopolitan Magazine concurrently with The Snows of Kilimanjaro. The story was eventually adapted to the screen as “The Macomber Affair” (1947).
The story deals with a dysfunctional marriage between Francis and Margot who are on a big game safari in Africa with a professional hunter Robert Wilson. On his first time out, Francis had panicked when a wounded lion charged him, which humiliated him in front of his wife who took far too much pleasure in mocking him about his act of cowardice. It is suggested that she sleeps with Robert Wilson. The next day the party hunt buffalo. Two are killed and one is wounded and retreats. It’s generally bad form, not to mention cruel all around, to leave a wounded animal as it is, and Francis and Wilson proceed to track him so that they can put him out of his misery. When they find the buffalo, it charges Francis Macomber. He stands his ground and fires, but his shots are too high. At the last second Macomber kills the buffalo with his last bullet and Margot fires a shot from her gun, which hits Macomber in the skull and kills him. Good times!
(Sorry, as a divorce lawyer I sometimes have a dark sense of humor on relationships.) Anyway, at the exhibit, there is a list of some of the alternate titles that Hemingway considered such as Marriage is a Dangerous Game, A Marriage has Terminated, The Cult of Violence, Marriage as a Bond.
TO BE CONTINUED Next POST!
Years pass, sometimes decades, in which nothing of lasting interest is published.
First came Winnie-the-Pooh.
Then came a radically original first novel by a young Midwesterner living in Paris. Among American novels of the past century, Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises remains uniquely influential.
There is no better time to appreciate Hemingway’s clipped, terse language than during the rhetorical bloat of an American election year, with Niagaras of twaddle and cliché tumbling into an oceanic puddle of verbiage.
“Zounds!” a Shakespeare character laments, “I was never so bethumped with words.”
It was Hemingway’s insight that English had grown genteel, formulaic, and glib; that mechanically chosen words and phrases, sliding easily onto the page, falsified experience and faked emotion. Shunning sentimentality and drama, genuine passion wastes no words.
“The deepest feeling always shows itself in silence,” his contemporary Marianne Moore observed: “Not in silence but restraint.”
The Sun Also Rises, like most Hemingway novels, is set in Europe.
An American journalist working in Paris, Jake the narrator loves an English femme fatale, Brett.
“Can’t we just live together?” he pleads.
“Not with my own true love,” she replies. For Jake has been emasculated by a war wound, they cannot consummate their love, and the highly sexed Brett has no aptitude for platonic friendship.
“And there’s not a damn thing we could do,” Jake says.
Their dilemma defies happy resolution.
What language to express a world without hope or illusion?
For five years Hemingway rose early, walked to a chilly rented room over a Parisian sawmill, and worked to find the answer. Slowly he developed his voice, reminding himself when discouraged that “all you have to do is write one true sentence.”
Ah yes. One True Sentence. Easier said than done.
Best to all, Christine
Hunter Stockton Thompson (18 July 1937 – 20 February 2005) was an American journalist and author famous for his flamboyant writing style, known as Gonzo Journalism, which blurred the distinctions between writer and subject, fiction and non-fiction. At the age of 67, suffering a bout of health problems, Thompson died at his home in Woody Creek, Colorado, of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
Who knew? More than 50 years ago Hunter Thompson was visiting Hemingway’s Ketchum, Idaho home and pilfered a set of trophy elk antlers. In mid-August 2016, his widow, Anita Thompson, gave the antlers back stating that Hunter had always been embarrassed that he had taken them.
“He wished he hadn’t,” she said. “He was young, it was 1964, and he got caught up in the moment. He talked about it several times, about taking a road trip and returning them.”
The Ketchum, Idaho community library has been a repository for things that Hemingway used and that were from his Ketchum, Idaho residence. The antlers were returned to the Idaho community library and ultimately shipped to Hemingway’s grandson in New York City. For years, the antlers hung in the garage of Hunter Thompson’s home outside Aspen, Colorado.
The taking of the antlers has been local lore for a number of years and apparently now the antlers have found a final home within the Hemingway family.
Trivia to be sure, but kind of funny/sad too.
At the end of this post is a link to the article I just read that talks about how Hemingway has been portrayed in film over the last 20 years. He has been written about significantly more than F. Scott Fitzgerald—perhaps because his life was longer and with a few more highs to focus on—but often in film, only one side of Hemingway is emphasized and the total picture of the man doesn’t seem to emerge. He’s either portrayed as a bragging drunkard whose light shown brightest only in his early works or as a macho, thrill-seeking hunter/bullfighting aficionado/fisherman who covered wars and rarely let up on the macho image that blessed and cursed him.
In all of my reading, I have seen another side of him that is very much present. Next to the drunkard braggart, there is also the gentle and insecure man who just wants to be left alone to write. Next to the macho big game hunter is the man who considered his animals part of the family and whom he treated with caring gratitude and love. When his spaniel Black Dog died, the depression that was already in progress deepened and he said he’d give up all of his fame and money for a case of good claret and “my Black Dog back when he was young and happy again.” And while capable of harshness to all of his wives at moments, he also gave generous support and kind appreciation for what they gave to him, including Martha whom he tended to vilify after the divorce. He readily acknowledged her writing skill and her courage. I don’t see too many of those nuanced aspects of Hemingway being portrayed on film.
In any event, this article talks about the following Hemingway based films:
3. Midnight In Paris: This is Woody Allen’s love film to Paris, but it also shows our stereotypical Hemingway who is portrayed with great fun by Corey Stoll. When Hemingway, apropos of nothing, shouts in a bar, “Does anyone want to fight?” I admit to laughing out loud.
4. Genius: This film just came out in June and focuses on Max Perkins, editor extraordinaire to Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Thomas Wolfe. The focus of the movie is on Wolfe, but Hemingway is in it in a few vignettes in which Perkins goes fishing with Hemingway presumably in Key West since this is set in 1929.
It’s a fun article and recaps movies in the last 20 years that Hemingway has been captured in.
Even a bad Hemingway film can be look-worthy. Love, Christine