Papa Hemingway’s Mom Wasn’t A Fan
I can’t read the following passage without hearing the voice of George Costanza’s mother as I read it.
This comes from a letter Hemingway’s mother, Grace, wrote to Ernest after the publication of The Sun Also Rises.
The critics seem to be full of praise for your style and ability to draw word pictures but the decent ones always regret that you should use such great gifts in perpetuating the lives and habits of so degraded a strata of humanity …. It is a doubtful honor to produce one of the filthiest books of the year …. What is the matter? Have you ceased to be interested in nobility, honor and fineness in life? …. Surely you have other words in your vocabulary than “damn” and “bitch”—Every page fills me with a sick loathing.
Man, that’s criticism where it hurts. Hemingway undoubtedly wrote back, “Thanks for the sweet note, mom.”
This goes back to a topic we discussed a few days ago—what does it mean to “glorify” a topic in literature? Obviously, Mrs. Hemingway thought her son was glorifying a lot of things that need not be glorified.
But this: “Every page fills me with a sick loathing.”
Come on, Ma Hemingway. No wonder your son had so many problems–with that kind of support and scathing criticism. The guy was an author, not the anti-Christ.
Hemingway received a fair amount of praise in his life, which hopefully helped ease some of his family’s angst toward him.
But, man, Grace Hemingway…that woman was harsh.
(Image: Wikimedia Commons)