Ernest Hemingway was about the least-contradictory human being to walk the planet. He was what we used to refer to as a “man’s man,” a hard-drinking, hard-living S.O.B. who didn’t care what you thought of him. (On the downside, he was also a clinically depressed alcoholic who took his own life, so there’s some brickbats in there along with the bouquets.) Papa is the archetypical macho man for many of us, the very antitheses of the metrosexual or “sensitive guy” of the seventies. No Alan Alda/worry about his “feminine side” for Hemingway. It’s hard to imagine Hemingway even dealing with the question, in any way other than beating the questioner bloody, then standing over the mangled body and ordering another bottle of hooch.

Papa offed himself 50 years ago today. Given his lifestyle, I can’t imagine him surviving (suicide or no) to today’s age. But author Marty Beckerman has penned an interesting tome (cover pictured above) which speculates on just how Hemingway would have reacted to our modern technological lifestyle, had he been around for it. The Heming Way: How to Unleash the Booze-Inhaling, Animal-Slaughtering, War-Glorifying, Hairy-Chested, Retro-Sexual Legend Within… Just Like Papa! like an interesting book. But reading about it got me to wondering, what would Papa think about TTAG?

I suspect, Hemingway would love the site. I think he’d be a frequent contributor, complaining that we didn’t have enough coverage of hunting (we don’t) and calling those that don’t hunt for our own food, a bunch of nancy-boys and pussies. (Hard to argue that with a guy who’s armed and dangerous.)

I think he’d be aghast at how society has gotten positively wimpy over the years, and (from his retreat in some far-off, primitive area – or Idaho – that limits online communication to the occasional SatPhone hookup), he’d wax rhapsodic about the manly arts of hunting, fishing, and taking the bull by the horns (or running from them in Spain), and decrying the kind of fuzzy-thinking, appeasing, worrying-about-what-the-rest-of-the-world-thinks-of-us kind of prevailing wisdom among today’s Progressives.

Which is kind of interesting to me, because Hemingway was far from a Conservative. Buddies with Castro (right up until Fidel nationalized all American-owned property in Cuba – including Hemingway’s) Hemingway was a fan of The People, and The Man in his politics.

I think he’d look at the political landscape today and side more with the Tea Partiers than anybody else, having no use at all for either the Rockefeller “Country Club” Republicans and even less for the loons of the Far Left. While he might sympathize with the original goals of the Sierra Club, he’d likely just as soon shoot members of PeTA, Earth First, Greenpeace, and the other eco-Nazis.

But what about TTAG itself? I fancy he’d like it here. If he’d condescend to pen pieces for us, he’d raise the quality of writing here by an order of magnitude, and that would be A-OK with us. (After all, we learn from standing in the shadows of giants.) And Hemingway was a literary giant.

Most of all, I think he’d find TTAG a breath of fresh air, in a world that has become increasingly afraid of it’s own shadow. In short, if Papa wasn’t proud of us, he’d at least give us a friendly nod, kick us in the ass, and then tell us to man-up and go write something that would make the rest of the world sit up and take notice.

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41 Responses to Saturday Evening Post: What Would Papa Think of TTAG?

  1. Hemingway is a very polarizing figure. I cannot wait for the comments on this one. I imagine a few of people here will probably shit talk both him and you for the article. Just to save them some time:
    He was a drunk and misogynist with multiple wives- not a good role model
    He glorified the killing of defenseless animals- that makes him an unevolved heathen, possibly subhuman.
    He shot himself which makes him a coward and a hypocrite considering all the bravado he tried to put forth.
    These are not my opinions just the opinions I anticipate to pop up here shortly

    • All that is old news, and impossible to judge by 21st century social standards. More disappointing, and more revealing, ultimately, is the awful way he treated Fitzgerald. It shows that for all his talent, and all his bluster, deep down Hemingway was essentially a punk and a bully, and he was profoundly insecure about his own work.

  2. My favorite quote attributed to Hemingway:

    “Auto racing, bull fighting, and mountain climbing are the only real sports … all others are games.”

    • Hemingway never said or wrote it. The quote actually comes from Blood Sport, a 1957 short story about auto racing by Ken Purdy. “There are three sports,” she remembered Helmut Ovden saying. “Bullfighting, motor racing, mountain climbing. All the rest are recreations.”

  3. Hemingway was a hard-boiled leftist who could write the ass off of most other writers of his time. His writings also reveal a soft center that’s hard to reconcile with his harsh exterior. If you don’t think that Hemingway (I refuse to call him “Papa”) was a contradictory personality, go back and read For Whom the Bell Tolls. It was an intensely antiwar book written by a guy who volunteered for one, and who probably enjoyed it. The lead character in The Sun Also Rises is impotent because of war wounds. A Farewell to Arms might be the most antiwar book ever written, as virtually everyone in it comes to a bad end. The Old Man and the Sea is an homage to manhood and individualism, written by a man who adored his cats. If you want to know more about what the writer felt about his own writing, read The Snows of Kilimanjaro.

    Hemingway inherited hemochromatosis from his father. The disease probably emasculated him and precipitated his suicide.

    What would he think of us? Well, probably not very much. Then again, I wouldn’t be thinking about TTAG if I was rolling around in the hay with Ava Gardner.

  4. Brad Kazak says: “But what about TTAG itself? I fancy he’d like it here.”

    I’m sure he’d be repulsed by the horrible copy. The great American writers of the 20th century, from Faulkner to Hemingway, and even the casual essayists including White and Thurber, were obsessed with the mechanics of the language. This is the one thing they have in common despite their radically divergent styles: craft.

    No offense, but you guys don’t even care. You make the same basic grammar and construction errors over and over. In Montparnasse they would hang you by your thumbs for this stuff.

    • I would pay to hang out with you for a weekend. you truly seem to be a renaissance man. An expert on every subject brought up here on TTAG. I BOW TO YOUR EXCELLENCE. And thank you for proving the point of my first post on this subject. Although it did take longer than I thought. Just for kicks who do you look you to?

    • Magoo, I’ve question for you. Why do you bother reading us, if you don’t like our writing? Most people that read us find our copy lively and entertaining. I don’t pretend to be in a class with Hemingway, but in reading the other posts here, I’d put our stuff up against anything else you find online and I think it compares favorably. And I’d damn sure rather be entertained by RF and his prose, than by your whining.

      Oh, and as a point of information, it was you I was thinking of, when I created this image in Photoshop.

    • People who obsess over mechanics tend to be functional morons in the sense that they miss the forest for the trees. Language is there to communicate concepts and emotions from one person to another.

      Perfection is never achieved, and past a certain point, laboring over construction is pointless literary masturbation. Any number of notable post 19th century writers suffer from this disease. Once you distance yourself from the academic experience and learn to appreciate how language is best used in the real world, this may begin to make sense.

      If someone were attempting to ghost write for Hemingway, it might make sense to care about what Hemingway thought as far as writing went. As for being a reputable authority to look to for all things manly, he’s a bad choice for many reasons already mentioned. Might as well choose Teddy Roosevelt.

  5. “The great American writers of the 20th century, from Faulkner to Hemingway, and even the casual essayists including White and Thurber”

    Thurber is the only entertaining one of the bunch. The rest of them were so obsessed with “the Art”, they left out the story. Look at the “great” Steinbeck. Once his tales grew over 120 pages they became nothing more than intellectual masturbation. He couldn’t carry a story line any longer, so he filled the space with vacuous blather.

    Hemingway’s only decent book was “The Old Man And the Sea” The rest of his scribbling was nearly as wretched as Kerouac. You might as well claim “Ulysses” as a great book.

    Yes, I know professors and teachers inflict that POS on thousands of students every year. It is a sadistic and nearly evil practice. IMNSHO anyone who teaches that particular piece of garbage as anything excepting only a “How not to” book, should lose their teaching credentials. If they “taught” it to anyone under 18 an arrest for child abuse would not be amiss.

  6. I really don’t have an opinion, my main heroes are John Wayne, Chesty Puller, Bruce Lee and Michael D. Echanis. I always favored the writing of Edgar Allen Poe.

    • Chesty Puller might have been the greatest soldier this country ever produced. He was certainly the best Marine.

      • OOORAAAH! I neglected to also list Major Wayne Rollings. He was a silver star awarded Force Recon member, Commandant of USC’s NROTC when I knew him as a high school kid in the Marine Corps Explorers. He held the world record for push ups and sit ups at one time.

        • He was also the only man I’ve ever seen shoot a 1911 with only two fingers and a thumb-the two lower fingers were shot off as he fired an M60 at the North Vietnamese.

  7. Wow. Full of ourselves much? I’ve read a few things here that I liked, but this place isn’t even up to the standards (literary or otherwise) of the Farago-era TTAC, let alone Hemingway.

    • Theodore, I find that puzzling, since there are a number of TTAG writers (myself included) that wrote for the Farago-era TTAC. But we keep trying to make this place more interesting, more readable, and more entertaining. If you have any (constructive) criticisms as to how you think we can accomplish that, then like Horton (Hear’s a Who), we’re all ears.

      • Forgive me if I don’t remember your byline from TTAC. That’s okay, you probably don’t remember mine either (it only appeared once.) The only name (other than RF, of course) that jumps out at me is Montgomery.

        FWIW, my favorite TTAC writer was Paul Niedermeyer. That may reflect my preference for features over blog bites, for old over new, for reflection and nostalgia over instant analysis in the now. But mostly, I liked the way he could tell a story.

        • No worries. I wrote on advertising and marketing cars, mainly because that’s my area of expertise – at the time I was employed by an ad agency as a director/editor for TV ads we produced for a bunch of car dealers.

          I really loved both reading and writing for TTAC, and I was sad to see Robert leave. But I’m very happy that I’ve had the chance to work with him again, and it’s been a blast getting in on the ground floor of TTAG. RF sets the bar very high around here – his output is unbelievable, especially when you consider the quality standards he sets and maintains.

          By the way, we try to maintain as much balance as we can around here. We don’t just do gun reviews (our most popular feature) or news/analysis about the ATF. We also feature short stories, serialized fiction, humor, and features unique to TTAG, like the “Irresponsible Gun Owner of the Day.” We’re always looking for new writers around here, and we’re seriously looking for some that might offer some different views that we do. (In other words, we’d like to find someone that could represent the Liberal/Progressive/I’m-not-in-lockstep-with-the-personal-ownership-of-guns viewpoint.) It’s hard to find someone that can fill that role (Dan Baum was the last writer that took on the task), because they take a lot of heat from our readers, and eventually, they always seem to get pissed off about something one of the rest of us writes. (I swear, it wasn’t me.)

          If you think we’re doing a good job, that’s always nice to hear, but we also want to know if/when you think we’re screwing up. We might not agree with you, but we can’t make things better without constructive criticism.

        • Don’t worry Brad! I have much love for you guys! I like that you “get” my off’center humor-even the .458 SOCOM M1 carbine. I think most people got it. Why is it that the militant left, generally, is so uptight and angry, and I take it as it comes and have a happy go lucky attitude. Jesus, if I was as uptight as certain guys-I would have offed myself over my cracked eye socket!

  8. Brad Kozak says: “Magoo, I’ve question for you. Why do you bother reading us, if you don’t like our writing? Most people that read us find our copy lively and entertaining. I don’t pretend to be in a class with Hemingway, but in reading the other posts here, I’d put our stuff up against anything else you find online and I think it compares favorably.”

    You aren’t taking this personally enough, Brad. Some of the copy here is fairly okay. I was referring mainly to yours. If you want to be a real writer, start by hacking out all the corny catchphrases and cliches. They’re not “lively.” They were worn out when you found them. If you’re going to imitate, aim higher than airline magazine.

    Of course you identified yourself with Hemingway. That’s what made the piece so clueless — the jaw-dropping presumption of it. Read your title. Brad, you don’t know anything about Hemingway, and you don’t know anything about the book you featured here. It’s a savage parody of Hemingway, his macho persona, and his highly lampoonable prose style.

  9. Rob says: “I would pay to hang out with you for a weekend. you truly seem to be a renaissance man. An expert on every subject brought up here on TTAG. I BOW TO YOUR EXCELLENCE. And thank you for proving the point of my first post on this subject. Although it did take longer than I thought. Just for kicks who do you look you to?”

    That’s hilarious. I don’t have one more opinion than Brad Kozak does. Fewer, I’m sure.

    • Magoo, I have a pretty thick skin, regarding criticism. Growing up as a professional musician and graphic artist, you kinda have to. So taking your comments personally is not really a problem for me. Interesting, though on a couple of levels, that you choose to single me out in this manner. Interesting, because I think it shows that YOU have a problem, and apparently something I’ve written has gotten under YOUR skin. Fair enough. But I’ll caution you now, TTAG has a long-standing, stated policy that we do not allow personal attacks from our commentators. (We try to avoid personal attacks by our writers, too, but we do allow them to defend themselves when attacked.) Should you continue to personalize attacks on the site, we’ll have little choice but to see you follow in the footsteps of other hall of shame notables in the TTAG History Team.

      Let me get personal here for a second. (As personal as I can get on a public forum, that is.) Magoo, don’t be an ass. TTAG needs contrarian voices. It keeps us honest and on our toes, and makes for some interesting reading. Continue to flame, though, and we won’t hesitate to push the red button, if you know what I mean. I won’t make the call on your account – that’s up to RF. But you’re skating closer and closer to the line, pal. Do us all a favor, and direct your comments to the content, and keep the personal attacks to yourself.

      Just to clarify a few additional misconceptions you’ve voiced in your latest comments, The story I wrote was concerning the TTAG site, not my individual work. I’d love to be able to write as well as Hemingway. He’s not my favorite writer, but he’s unquestionably a literary giant. What writer wouldn’t aspire to his level of talent? But I was speaking of the TTAG attitude, the TTAG point of view, and the TTAG overall “voice.” I think Hemingway would approve. I stand by that sentiment.

      And if we’re going to get picky about grammar, syntax and spelling, “If you’re going to imitate, aim higher than airline magazine” should be either “aim higher than AN airline magazine,” or “aim higher than airline MAGAZINES.” Either works. If you don’t believe me, go find a 5th grade English textbook and look it up.

      As I pointed out in the article, While I’ve read a lot of Hemingway’s work, I have not yet read The Hemming Way. However, I did read a feature-length story by the same author in Wired, which simultaneously pitches his book, and expands on his theme, relating it to our Wired world. I simply chose to riff off the point he made in the article, applying it to TTAG. Sorry you didn’t catch that. Probably went over your head.

      So to recap, while I can take whatever you care to dish out, TTAG has a policy against personalized flaming. We don’t want to ban you. (Really!) But if you persist in personalized attacks, we won’t have a choice.

      You’ve been warned.

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