Ernest Hemingway/Why It Went Wrong

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2.Why It Went Wrong

Sadly, Hemingway couldn't use this attitude in life. Maybe the pressure simply was too high. The general public never knew the real Ernest Hemingway, a man with a man's problems. They only had an abstract ideal they knew from his books. Even his close friend James Joyce mixed him up with his characters. Joyce once said: He's a good writer, Hemingway. He writes as he is. He's a big, powerful peasant, as strong as a buffalo. A sportsman. And ready to live the life he writes about. He would never have it if his body had not allowed him to live it. But giants of his sort are truly modest; there is much more behind Hemingway's form than people know."

According to Ford Madox Ford, truth is not facts but vision. On that principle are Hemingway's characters based. But that is what caused Hemingway's failure. He felt he had to be as stoic as his characters.

Like Robert Jordan's father, he was trapped. On the one hand, he could never surpass his character's deeds and on the other hand, the general public demanded him to do so. He tried and created one myth after the other. He claimed he had an affair with Mata Hari ("but one night I fucked her very well, although I found her to be very heavy throughout the hips and to have more desire for what was done to her than what she was giving to the man"(Burgess (9.), p. 105)), that he joined the Arditi after his wounding, etc. And most people were perfectly willing to believe it, the tale about the Arditi, Italian shock troops, even appeared in Malcolm Cowley's preface to the 1944(Cowley (4.), p. xii) edition of "The Viking Portable Library". He was captured in the structure of his lies, the discrepancy between him and the image he had set up grew larger every day. To be a liar and worthless in comparison to that shining idol must have reinforced his alcohol-related depressions and made him more liable to the hurts he received.

After all, there is a certain ambivalence of death and violence. It had done some good, and taught him priceless philosophies. But at the same time, they hurt him so much, the only thing he could do was to make fiction from them. He did that superbly well.

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