Francis Schaeffer rightly noted:
PAPA HEMINGWAY CAN FIND THE CHAMPAGNE OF PARIS SUFFICIENT FOR A TIME, BUT ONCE HE LEFT HIS YOUTH HE NEVER FOUND IT SUFFICIENT AGAIN. HE HAD A LIFETIME SPENT LOOKING BACK TO PARIS AND THAT CHAMPAGNE AND NEVER FINDING IT ENOUGH.
Midnight in Paris OST – 10 – The Charleston
In MIDNIGHT IN PARIS Gil becomes good friends with a few of these people, including Ernest Hemingway (Corey Stoll), an interesting representation of the man pictured below.
Midnight in Paris OST – 11 – Ain’t She Sweet
ERNEST HEMINGWAY:She’ll drive you crazy, this woman.-
SCOTT FITZGERALD:She’s exciting,and she has talent.
ERNEST HEMINGWAY:This month it’s writing. Last month it was something else.You’re a writer. You need time to write.Not all this fooling around.She’s wasting you…
It is true that Zelda Fitzgerald and her husband hosted drunken parties often and Hemingway attended many of them. Later in MIDNIGHT IN PARIS while drunk Hemingway says to Adriana, “Ma petite Adriana!(There she is, my little Adriana!) Isn’t this little Parisian dream a movable feast?”
Drinking was a large part of Hemingway’s life. Solomon in the Book of Ecclesiastes also takes a long look at liquor and tries to see if it will bring any satisfaction UNDER THE SUN.
In fact, Solomon filled his home with the best wine (Eccl 2:3).
Concerning the Book of Ecclesiastes Francis Schaeffer noted:
Solomon was searching for a meaning in the midst of the details of life. His struggle was to find the meaning of life. Not just plans in life. Anybody can find plans in life. A child can fill up his time with plans of building tomorrow’s sand castle when today’s has been washed away. There is a difference between finding plans in life and purpose in life. Humanism since the Renaissance and onward has never found it and it has never found it. Modern man has not found it and it has always got worse and darker in a very real way.
Ecclesiastes is the only pessimistic book in the Bible and that is because of the place where Solomon limits himself. He limits himself to the question of human life, life UNDER THE SUN between birth and death and the answers this would give.
In Ecclesiastes 1:8 he drives this home when he states, “All things are wearisome; Man is not able to tell it. THE EYE IS NOT SATISFIED WITH SEEING. NOR IS THE EAR FILLED WITH HEARING.” Solomon is stating here the fact that there is no final satisfaction because you don’t get to the end of the thing.
What do you do and the answer is to get drunk and this was not thought of in the RUBAIYAT OF OMAR KAHAYYAM:
I said to myself, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure. So enjoy yourself.” And behold, it too was futility. 2 I said of laughter, “It is madness,” and of pleasure, “What does it accomplish?” 3 I explored with my mind how to stimulate my body with wine while my mind was guiding me wisely, and how to take hold of folly, until I could see what good there is for the sons of men to do under heaventhe few years of their lives.
You know, my Friends, with what a brave Carouse
I made a Second Marriage in my house;
Divorced old barren Reason from my Bed,
And took the Daughter of the Vine to Spouse.
from the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (Translation by Edward Fitzgerald)
A perfectly good philosophy coming out of Islam, but Solomon is not the first man that thought of it nor the last. In light of what has been presented by Solomon is the solution just to get intoxicated and black the think out? So many people have taken to alcohol and the dope which so often follows in our day. This approach is incomplete, temporary and immature. PAPA HEMINGWAY CAN FIND THE CHAMPAGNE OF PARIS SUFFICIENT FOR A TIME, BUT ONCE HE LEFT HIS YOUTH HE NEVER FOUND IT SUFFICIENT AGAIN. HE HAD A LIFETIME SPENT LOOKING BACK TO PARIS AND THAT CHAMPAGNE AND NEVER FINDING IT ENOUGH. It is no solution and Solomon says so too.
Midnight in Paris OST – 05 – Let’s Do It (Let’s Fall In Love)
Woody Allen talks ‘Midnight in Paris’
AT THE 27 MIN MARK Woody Allen says:
I have never gotten to the point where I can give an optimistic view of anything. I have these ideas for stories that I hope are entertaining and I am always criticized for being pessimistic or nihilistic. To me this is just a realistic appraisal of life. There are these little Oasis’s these little distractions you get. Last night I was caught up in the Bulls and Heat basketball game on television and for the time being I was thinking about who was going to win. I wasn’t thinking about my mortality or the fact that I am finite and aging. That was not on my mind. Labron James was on my mind and the game. That is the best you can do is get a little detraction. What I have learned over the years is that there is no other solution to it. There is no satisfying answer. There is no optimistic answer I can give anybody.
The outcome of that basketball game is no less meaningful or no more meaningful than human life if you take the long view of it. You could look at the earth and say who cares about those creatures running around there and just brush it. Ernest Hemingway in one of his stories ( A FAREWELL TO ARMS) is looking at a burning log with ants running on it. This is the kind of thinking that has over powered me over the years and slips into my stories.
I have always been an odd mixture, completely accidentally, I was a nightclub comic joke writer whose two biggest influences were Groucho Marx, who I have always adored and he still makes me laugh and Igmar Bergman. I have always had a morbid streak in my work and I when I do something that works , it works to my advantage because it gives some substance and depth to the story, but I when I fail the thing could be too grim or too moralizing or not interesting enough. Then someone will say we only like you when you are funny.
Midnight in Paris OST – 06 – You’ve Got That Thing
FILE – In this May 12, 1959, American novelist Ernest Hemingway, left, speaks with actors Alec Guinness, center, and Noel Coward in Sloppy Joe’s Bar during the making of Sir Carol Reed’s film version of “Our Man in Havana,” based on Graham Greene’s best seller, in Havana, Cuba. Sloppy Joe’s will be reopened in February 2013 by the state-owned tourism company Habaguanex, part of an ambitious revitalization project by the Havana City Historian’s Office, which since the 1990’s has transformed block after block of crumbling ruins into rehabilitated buildings along vibrant cobblestone streets, giving residents and tourists from all over the chance to belly up to the same bar that served thirsty celebrities like Rock Hudson, Babe Ruth and Ernest Hemingway. (AP Photo, File)
Robert Capa [Ernest Hemingway and his son Gregory, Sun Valley, Idaho], October 1941. © Robert Capa/International Center of Photography/Magnum Photos.
An Interview with Ernest Hemingway’s Son, Patrick Hemingway (Part II)
BY BRIAN DOUGLASJULY 31ST, 2013
If it weren’t for the fact that Ernest Hemingway has been a cultural icon since the 1920s, one could say that he has had something of a resurgence in popularity during the past couple of years. From Woody Allen’s caricature in “Midnight in Paris” to the more developed portrayal in HBO’s “Hemingway & Gellhorn,” he remains a pop-culture icon. Ernest Hemingway is, of course, one of the more famous authors in American history. But he was more than a writer — he was a character of his own creation. He portrayed himself and his world in the most vivid ways. Both his writing and his life remain powerful in our culture’s imagination.
Born in Oak Park, Ill., in 1899, Hemingway began his writing career in 1917 as a reporter for the The Kansas City Star and continued as a European correspondent for the Toronto Star. Within a decade, he had earned an international reputation as a writer. His journalistic pieces were well-known, and he even wrote some poetry on occasion, but it was for literature that Hemingway became famous.
Hemingway’s specialties were short stories and stark, punchy novels. His first successful collection of short stories was “In Our Time” (1925), and his first novel, “The Sun Also Rises” (1926), was widely regarded as a literary masterpiece immediately after publication. From that time until his suicide in Idaho in 1961, Hemingway wrote 10 novels and dozens of short stories, toured the globe, reported on wars, met world leaders, won the Pulitzer for “The Old Man and the Sea” (1952), and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature (1954). All his major works remain in print — in fact, annual sales of his works have increased steadily since his death and now top 1 million books per year.
In terms of style, Hemingway is considered to be one of the more influential English-language writers of all time. The official biography used by his publisher, Scribner & Sons, describes him as having done “more to change the style of English prose than any other writer in the twentieth century … [He] wrote in short, declarative sentences and was known for his tough, terse prose.” Hemingway described his own writing using the metaphor of an iceberg: The words on the page are only part of the story. The rest, “the underwater part of the iceberg,” is always just beneath the surface, giving life and depth to what is written. Numerous other authors, including Jack Kerouac, J.D. Salinger, and Hunter S. Thompson, have credited Hemingway as an influence.
For Christians, perhaps the most interesting thing about Hemingway’s writings is how they so vividly portray his worldview, which can be summed up in two words: truth and tragedy. Everything he wrote reflects those two ideas in some way.
Writing as an Exercise in Truth
Hemingway described all writing — fiction or nonfiction, it makes no difference — as a struggle to describe people, places, experiences, and ideas as truly as they could possibly be expressed.
“Good writing is true writing. If a man is making a story up it will be true in proportion to the amount of knowledge of life that he has and how conscientious he is; so that when he makes something up it is as it would truly be” (“By-Line: Ernest Hemingway,” p. 215).
“Sometimes when I was starting a new story and I could not get it going, I would sit in front of the fire and squeeze the peel of the little oranges into the edge of the flame and watch the sputter of blue that they made. I would stand and look out over the roofs of Paris and think, ‘Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.’ So finally I would write one true sentence, and then go on from there. It was easy then because there was always one true sentence that I knew or had seen or heard someone say. If I started to write elaborately, or like someone introducing or presenting something, I found that I could cut that scrollwork or ornament out and throw it away and start with the first true simple declarative sentence I had written” (“A Moveable Feast,” p. 12).
“All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you; the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was” (“By-Line: Ernest Hemingway,” p. 184).
“The hardest thing in the world to do is to write straight honest prose on human beings. First you have to know the subject; then you have to know how to write. Both take a lifetime to learn” (“By-Line: Ernest Hemingway,” p. 183).
Hemingway demanded this kind of truthfulness not just in writing, but in all of life. His combination of an unusual perceptiveness and exceptional writing skill enables his readers to see the world as he saw it. Many of his written works — which range in subject matter from war in Europe to bullfighting in Spain, skiing in Switzerland, the people of Paris and Key West, hunting in Africa, and fishing in Michigan and the Gulf Stream — consequently resonate as genuine and honest. They may not always be honorable or lovely, but they ring true because Hemingway is able to capture in words the world as he saw it.
Hemingway’s most memorable characters are often based on real people; they reveal how he perceived the people he met. Some are deep and dynamic, like Frederic Henry in “A Farewell to Arms” or Nick Adams, the hero of numerous short stories. Others are shallow caricatures meant to mock the people they represent, like the Bimini brawler in “Islands in the Stream” (1970) or the laughing lady in “To Have and Have Not” (1937). His descriptions of children can be particularly moving, as in the short story “A Day’s Wait.”
One of Hemingway’s editors, Maxwell Perkins, said of him, “If the function of a writer is to reveal reality, no one ever so completely performed it.” Unfortunately, Hemingway’s insistence on telling the truth does not provide his reader with many happy endings. As Hemingway saw it, life is ultimately always tragic.
Life as an Exercise in Tragedy
In his short story “Big Two-Hearted River,” Hemingway refers to swamp fishing as a “tragic adventure.” Sadly, the phrase also aptly describes the majority of Hemingway’s life. He certainly understood his profession to be tragic:
“Dostoevsky was made by being sent to Siberia. Writers are forged in injustice as a sword is forged” (“Green Hills of Africa,” p. 71).
“Madame, all stories, if continued far enough, end in death, and he is no true-story teller who would keep that from you” (“Death in the Afternoon,” p. 122).
Hemingway’s tragic adventure was not confined to his writing. His favorite pastimes also inevitably ended in tragedy: In hunting and fishing, either the animal dies or the hunter or fisherman experiences the tragedy of failure and loss. In bullfighting, either the bull is killed or the torero is gored.
Hemingway seemed bent on extending his tragic adventures into his personal life as well. He was married four times, with numerous other women along the way. According to one story, his last wife, Mary, threatened to kill one of Ernest’s lady friends if she caught them together. His relationships with his three sons were typically strained, past the point of reconciliation in at least one case.
Thus death and loss were ways of life for Hemingway, and he lived out his tragic adventure to the end. After several years of depression and mental deterioration caused by his lifestyle and genetics, Ernest Hemingway shot himself in the head with his favorite shotgun in his Ketchum, Idaho, home on the morning of July 2, 1961.
What does Ernest Hemingway have to do with the gospel?
The ideas of truth and tragedy encapsulate Hemingway’s life, writings, and worldview — or perhaps truth as tragedy is a better way of putting it, for Hemingway saw tragedy as the message that he was truthfully telling. And concerning the tragedy of this life, Hemingway was right. This world is utterly and completely fallen; that fallenness spares no one and extends itself to every area of our lives.
The saddest thing about Hemingway — the shortfall of his worldview — is that he understood the truth of tragedy so deeply but failed to understand the redemption that comes in Jesus. Without the hope that comes from that redemption, it is no surprise that he sought relief in such things as drink, dalliance, sport, and suicide but found no lasting satisfaction in them. The real surprise is that he was so driven to communicate the truth of tragedy to others, diligently writing starting at dawn each day. By his writing he became an apostle of a grim gospel.
Sadder still is the fact that Hemingway’s worldview is shared by so many in our world. Even those who talk themselves into optimism or distract themselves by one means or another are only temporarily avoiding the reality that a world without Jesus is just as Hemingway describes it:
“What did he fear? It was not fear or dread. It was a nothing that he knew too well. It was all a nothing and a man was nothing too. … [H]e knew it all was nada y pues nada y nada y pues nada. Our nada who art in nada, nada be thy name thy kingdom nada thy will be nada in nada as it is in nada. Give us this nada our daily nada and nada us our nada as we nada our nadas and nada us not into nada but deliver us from nada; pues nada. Hail nothing full of nothing, nothing is with thee. …
“Now, without thinking further, he would go home to his room. He would lie in the bed and finally, with daylight, he would go to sleep. After all, he said to himself, it is probably only insomnia. Many must have it.” (“A Clean, Well-Lighted Place,” written by Hemingway in 1926 at age 27. “The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway: The Finca Vigia Edition,” p. 288.)
The first reason Christians should know about Ernest Hemingway is because they regularly meet people who share his worldview, whose hearts and lives reflect the hopelessness that he wrote about. Hemingway’s writing gives us a better understanding of exactly how such people see the world. Christians will find some of his work to be offensive, but it should not surprise anyone when the lost act lost. We need to temper our offense and respond with compassion and love, for our world can learn only from us that “everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame” and that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Every time we are confronted with a worldview like Hemingway’s, it is an opportunity to respond with the world-transforming power of the true gospel.
A second reason why Christians should read Ernest Hemingway is to learn how to write better. Above all other people, Christians know the power of words. Every Christian has experienced the power of God’s Word to change lives, and that same Word commands every Christian to be ready to articulate his faith. Learning to speak and write as well as possible is part of taking that command seriously. Few authors in history have been such a keen observer of people, such a vivid and moving reporter of life, and such a master of words as Hemingway, and he had much to say about developing the skill and style of writing. Who better to learn from than such a man? No one would say that we should ignore such unbelievers as Monet when learning about art or Jefferson when learning about politics. Why would we not learn how to write better from Hemingway?
That said, Hemingway is sometimes a challenging read. His major novels in particular use complicated structures and literary devices that have sustained decades of analysis. A reader new to Hemingway might be better off starting with his short stories, which are more accessible and perhaps best showcase his skill as a writer. For example, the short story “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place,” which is among the finest pieces Hemingway ever wrote, is four pages long, while “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber” presents his anthropology in just 24 pages. Both stories can be found in “The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway: The Finca Vigia Edition” (1987), which is a thorough, but not quite complete collection as it has some notable missing pieces. The collection “Hemingway on Writing” (1999) is also helpful for those who want to focus on his philosophy of writing.
Hemingway is not the only writer who can teach us to write better while revealing something of how our neighbor understands life. He is particularly skilled at doing those two things, but other authors have useful perspectives as well, however true or good they might be. We must be alert to the worldviews they express in each case, be able to examine and interact with them, and by whatever means improve our ability to speak the gospel in response. Judging by our culture’s continuing interest in Ernest Hemingway, his worldview is still influential. This fact presents us with an opportunity to proclaim the truth that Jesus will redeem our tragic world.
Brian Douglas grew up in the Miami, Fla., area and now lives in Boise, Idaho. His interest in Ernest Hemingway began when he read “The Old Man and the Sea” while an undergraduate at Stetson University. He has since studied at Knox Theological Seminary (M.Div. & M.A.) and the University of Sussex. He serves as a ruling elder at All Saints Presbyterian Church (PCA) and teaches at The Ambrose School and Boise State University.
Paul Hendrickson: Hemingway’s Life & Writing
Gary Cooper, Ernest Hemingway, Tillie Arnold and Dr. George Saviers at a party in Sun Valley 1948
Ernest Hemingway, Wrestling With Life (documentary)
Spencer Tracy and Ernest Hemingway with Friends at La Florida (“Floridita”), Havana, Cuba
An Interview with Ernest Hemingway’s Son, Patrick Hemingway (Part I)
Ernest Hemingway with Lady Duff Twysden, Hadley, and friends, during the July 1925 trip to Spain that inspired The Sun Also Rises
This series deals with the Book of Ecclesiastes and Woody Allen films. The first post dealt with MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT and it dealt with the fact that in the Book of Ecclesiastes Solomon does contend like Hobbes and Stanley that life is “nasty, brutish and short” and as a result has no meaning UNDER THE SUN.
The movie MIDNIGHT IN PARIS offers many of the same themes we see in Ecclesiastes. The second post looked at the question: WAS THERE EVER A GOLDEN AGE AND DID THE MOST TALENTED UNIVERSAL MEN OF THAT TIME FIND TRUE SATISFACTION DURING IT?
In the third post in this series we discover in Ecclesiastes that man UNDER THE SUN finds himself caught in the never ending cycle of birth and death. The SURREALISTS make a leap into the area of nonreason in order to get out of this cycle and that is why the scene in MIDNIGHT IN PARIS with Salvador Dali, Man Ray, and Luis Bunuel works so well!!!! These surrealists look to the area of their dreams to find a meaning for their lives and their break with reality is only because they know that they can’t find a rational meaning in life without God in the picture.
The fourth post looks at the solution of WINE, WOMEN AND SONG and the fifth and sixth posts look at the solution T.S.Eliot found in the Christian Faith and how he left his fragmented message of pessimism behind. In the seventh post the SURREALISTS say that time and chance is all we have but how can that explain love or art and the hunger for God? The eighth post looks at the subject of DEATH both in Ecclesiastes and MIDNIGHT IN PARIS. In the ninth post we look at the nihilistic worldview of Woody Allen and why he keeps putting suicides into his films.
In the tenth post I show how Woody Allen pokes fun at the brilliant thinkers of this world and how King Solomon did the same thing 3000 years ago. In the eleventh post I point out how many of Woody Allen’s liberal political views come a lack of understanding of the sinful nature of man and where it originated. In the twelfth post I look at the mannishness of man and vacuum in his heart that can only be satisfied by a relationship with God.
In the thirteenth post we look at the life of Ernest Hemingway as pictured in MIDNIGHT AND PARIS and relate it to the change of outlook he had on life as the years passed. In the fourteenth post we look at Hemingway’s idea of Paris being a movable feast.
“The whiskey warmed his tongue and the back of his throat, but it did not change his ideas any, and suddenly, looking at himself in the mirror behind the bar, he knew that drinking was never going to do any good to him now. Whatever he had now he had, and it was from now on, and if he drank himself unconscious when he woke up it would be there.” —To Have and Have Not, 1937
“I was a little drunk. Not drunk in any positive sense but just enough to be careless.” —The Sun Also Rises, 1926
“Don’t you drink? I notice you speak slightingly of the bottle. I have drunk since I was fifteen and few things have given me more pleasure. When you work hard all day with your head and know you must work again the next day what else can change your ideas and make them run on a different plane like whisky? When you are cold and wet what else can warm you? Before an attack who can say anything that gives you the momentary well-being that rum does? . . . The only time it isn’t good for you is when you write or when you fight. You have to do that cold. But it always helps my shooting. Modern life, too, is often a mechanical oppression and liquor is the only mechanical relief.” —Postscript to letter to critic, poet and translator Ivan Kashkin, August 19, 1935); published in Ernest Hemingway: Selected Letters 1917-1961, 1981, edited by Carlos Baker
“I wanted to try this new drink. That’s all we do, isn’t it—look at things and try new drinks?” —”Hills Like White Elephants,” Men Without Women, 1927
“I wonder what your idea of heaven would be — A beautiful vacuum filled with wealthy monogamists. All powerful and members of the best families all drinking themselves to death. And hell would probably an ugly vacuum full of poor polygamists unable to obtain booze or with chronic stomach disorders that they called secret sorrows.” —Letter to F. Scott Fitzgerald, July 1, 1925; published in Ernest Hemingway: Selected Letters 1917-1961, 1981, edited by Carlos Baker
“Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world and one of the most natural things of the world that has been brought to the greatest perfection, and it offers a greater range for enjoyment and appreciation than, possibly, any other purely sensory thing.” —Death in the Afternoon, 1932
“I drank a bottle of wine for company. It was Chateau Margaux. It was pleasant to be drinking slowly and to be tasting the wine and to be drinking alone. A bottle of wine was good company.” —The Sun Also Rises, 1926
“An intelligent man is sometimes forced to be drunk to spend time with his fools.” —For Whom the Bell Tolls, 1940
“In Europe we thought of wine as something as healthy and normal as food and also a great giver of happiness and well being and delight. Drinking wine was not a snobbism nor a sign of sophistication nor a cult; it was as natural as eating and to me as necessary.” —A Moveable Feast, 1964
“Death is like an old whore in a bar—I’ll buy her a drink but I won’t go upstairs with her.” —To Have and Have Not, 1937