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F&LILV Question #16 ~ HST and Hemmingway

Posted: Wed Sep 21, 2005 8:35 am
by DeppInTheHeartOfTexas
In Stop Smiling magazine, Douglas Brinkley (Hunter’s literary executor) says, “Hunter was obsessed with Hemingway. When he was young, his whole style was derivative of Hemingway…he liked the persona of Hemingway, the way he became larger than life. Wherever he went, he left his mark.” Hunter would retype Hemingway’s novels just to get the feel of the flow of his words. Hemingway’s suicide shocked Thompson, who was 23 at the time, so much so that he visited the town where the Hemingway took his life to write “What Lured Hemingway to Ketchum” for the National Observer in 1964. He actually ended up taking the elk horns that adorned the front entrance of Hemingway’s residence. One observer wrote, “like Hemingway he was a writer who craved action and adventure.” And another remarked, they were both “rugged individualists that created their own style of writing.”

Hemingway is considered one of the great American writers. How do you think Hunter’s legacy will compare to that of his literary hero? What do you think HST’s legacy will be, literary or otherwise?

Posted: Wed Sep 21, 2005 9:19 am
by lumineuse
Interesting that you should ask that question today - I just read Hunter's essay on Hemingway last night. It is an eerie thing to read now. Here are the closing paragraphs:

Standing on a corner in the middle of Ketchum it is easy to see the connection Hemingway must have made between this place and those he had known in the good years. Aside from the brute beauty of the mountains, he must have recognized an atavistic distinctness in the people that piques his sense of dramatic possibilities. It is a raw and peaceful little village, especially in the off season with neither winter skiers nor summer fishermen to dilute the image. Only the main street is paved; most of the others are no more than dirt and gravel tracks that seem at times to run right through front yards.

From such a vantage point a man tends to feel that it is not so difficult, after all, to see the world clear and as a whole. Like many another writer, Hemingway did his best work when he felt he was standing on something solid – like an Idaho mountainside, or a sense of conviction.

Perhaps he found what he came here for, but the odds are huge that he didn’t. He was an old, sick, and very troubled man, and the illusion of peace and contentment was not enough for him – not even when his friends came up from Cuba and played bullfight with him in the Tram. So finally, and for what he must have thought the best of reasons, he ended it with a shotgun.


It made me very sad for Hunter to think that at the end of his life he probably understood Hemingway a lot better.

Anyway, to answer your question, I do not think Hunter's legacy will remotely approach Hemingway's, for a number or reasons. Much of what Hunter wrote was so deeply rooted in American political and social issues that it lacks the international relevance of Hemingway's work. In addition, journalistic works are pretty much rooted in their era, and much of his work was journalism of a sort. I think he will be studied for his stature as a journalist, but not as a literary figure. As brilliant as his FALILV is, it is so deeply American, and also so topical, that I'm not sure people will get it 50 years from now, especially if they aren't Americans. But they will still understand and appreciate For Whom the Bell Tolls, and The Old Man and the Sea.

Posted: Wed Sep 21, 2005 10:09 am
by rustyred
lumineuse wrote: As brilliant as his FALILV is, it is so deeply American, and also so topical, that I'm not sure people will get it 50 years from now, especially if they aren't Americans. But they will still understand and appreciate For Whom the Bell Tolls, and The Old Man and the Sea.


Lumi - a great start to the discussion.. But on the above point I have to disagree.
1)" It is so deeply - American". I think many societies at that time were going through similiar feelings. Certainly here in Canada, there was disenchantment with the governments, the older generations;society as a whole. We too questioned our system of values.
2) "I'm not sure people will get it 50 years from now" Past and future generations have and will question the sanity of their realtive societies. It's been like that throughout History. My children and their university peers, consider that a "must" read. They get Hunter's angst and disillusionment with society

So in a nut shell I feel that Hunter's writings will become classics - Fear and Loathing is fast becoming that.

Now here is the kicker to the whole thing -
Hemmingway is not that well read here( except by the older genrations) and his sexist ideas are not well recieved - Shoot me if you must... but he is not studied by the new generations except by those taking English as a major - and usually because it is mandatory

Posted: Wed Sep 21, 2005 11:07 am
by lumineuse
That's interesting, rusty. Part of my opinion was formed by things UK Zoners have said about FALILV - about how they don't understand it quite as clearly because of not having lived the American experinece. Although it makes sense that Canadians might be a little more in tune with that. I am surprised that Hemingway isn't well read in Canada now. I love Hemingway's work. I have not been in academic circles for a long while, but I thought Hemingway ranked up there with Dickens. Perhaps I am mistaken about that.

I do believe that FALILV is a clssic and will continue to be. But Hemingway wrote many books that are considered classics. And while most readers know who Hemingway was, many people have never heard of Hunter. So, I still don't believe that Hunter is going to reach the legendary status accorded to Hemingway.

Posted: Wed Sep 21, 2005 11:34 am
by DeppInTheHeartOfTexas
I watched a PBS documentary on Hemmingway last week and was struck by some similarities to Hunter:

Hemmingway was credited with creating a new style of writing.

Hemmingway studied the writing style of Gertrude Stein in order to learn about the rhythm of the words. I wonder if that is something Hunter then picked up from Hemmingway when he retyped his novels? He loved to have his work read aloud to hear the rhythm of his writing.

Hemmingway created his public persona to mirror that of his characters in his novels, which people assumed were autobiographical.

He created his compound in Cuba where he loved to surround himself nightly with friends to discuss writing and events of the times.

Posted: Wed Sep 21, 2005 12:21 pm
by Liz
Wow! Interesting comments so far. :disco:

Rusty, SRT and anyone else who is familiar with college or university Lit or American History today, I have a question for you:

Is Hunter, specifically F&LILV and Hell's Angels, being studied in any classes?

Posted: Wed Sep 21, 2005 8:07 pm
by Still-Rather-Timid
Last night I was late posting here, and too tired to say much, because the visiting novelist who is presently teaching fiction writing at my school gave a reading I attended. At the dinner before the reading, both Hunter's and Hemingway's names came up! The visiting writer, just like, it seems, the vast majority of male writers, was pretty obsessed with Hemingway as a youth, and still uses him a lot as a model for the writers he teaches--the two undergrads from his class who attended the dinner could attest to reading a lot of Hemingway in his course.

Hemingway will always be famous for the absolute economy and clarity of his style. In grad school I learned that he is credited with curing popular American fictional style of its wordy, overornamental, gaudy Victorian hangover. He was a genius at saying very much by writing very little: his spare, plain style is wonderfully evident in a short story I still teach every year in my composition class. Apparently someone else has been practicing typing Hemingway, because I found it on the internet:

http://web.sfc.keio.ac.jp/~s01154me/hil ... phants.htm

This is just a brilliant piece of writing; I truly believe the short story was Hemingway's metiér. There's so little there, but the so little just takes your breath away. He chooses utterly minimal details, but they tell so much; they're perfectly chosen.

I think Hunter was probably more influenced by Hemingway's persona than by his writing style per se. And I'm not sure that was such a "good influence"--the testosterone-addled, macho posturing, the violence against women, the romantic fascination with suicide. Well, all male writer wannabes embrace Hemingway, and then if they become successful, known, and published, like Hunter, they automatically have something in common with their hero.

But even though I find Hemingway's melodramatic machismo ludicrous, I love his short stories, and love to get the chance to teach them (but I primarily teach British 19th-century literature).

As for the reference to Hunter at the dinner table, we were talking American authors, and the president of the college's wife was reminiscing about a summer course she helped to administrate at another, much larger school, some 25 years ago. This was a course in American journalists, and all the journalists that were studied actually came to the campus to give talks and hold question and answer sessions, and our hostess had sat at the dinner table with Hunter, who was apparently in a very monosyllabic mood on that particular evening, but he invited her to do coke with him in his hotel room afterwards, and she turned him down. But that wasn't the only thing said about Hunter. I was sitting with lit professors and a writer and English majors, and everyone really has respect for Hunter and thinks F&LILV will hold up. But nobody tells young writers to copy Hunter's style to get rid of bad habits!

Oh, and I also agree that even though their styles are very different, both Hunter and Hemingway took bold stands and went against the current grain and opened up new possibilities in writing style. Hemingway's is still worshipped and emulated to this day.

Posted: Wed Sep 21, 2005 8:41 pm
by Liz
I think Hunter's legacy will be Gonzo Journalism and also his fearless heroism as a seeker and revealer of truth who has encouraged others in similar pursuits. Hopefully, someone will follow in his footsteps.

SRT, great anecdote.
:cool:

Posted: Wed Sep 21, 2005 8:48 pm
by Still-Rather-Timid
Liz wrote:his fearless heroism as a seeker and revealer of truth who has encouraged others in similar pursuits. Hopefully, someone will follow in his footsteps.


Yes, Liz--and I really feel the truth of what you're saying when I read his "Fear and Loathing 2004" Rolling Stone column.

Posted: Wed Sep 21, 2005 9:04 pm
by DeppInTheHeartOfTexas
Still-Rather-Timid wrote:
Liz wrote:his fearless heroism as a seeker and revealer of truth who has encouraged others in similar pursuits. Hopefully, someone will follow in his footsteps.


Yes, Liz--and I really feel the truth of what you're saying when I read his "Fear and Loathing 2004" Rolling Stone column.


Just read the article. I couldn't agree more.

Posted: Wed Sep 21, 2005 9:39 pm
by lumineuse
Liz wrote:I think Hunter's legacy will be Gonzo Journalism and also his fearless heroism as a seeker and revealer of truth who has encouraged others in similar pursuits. Hopefully, someone will follow in his footsteps.

SRT, great anecdote.
:cool:


That's what I thought (and tried to say) . I think Hunter's legacy will be more journalistic, while Hemingway's is more literary. Hunter's longevity reamins to be seen, but I think Hemingway's is pretty much alreday established.

Posted: Thu Sep 22, 2005 12:52 am
by dharma_bum
lumineuse wrote:I think Hunter's legacy will be more journalistic, while Hemingway's is more literary. Hunter's longevity reamins to be seen, but I think Hemingway's is pretty much alreday established.

I too think the world will remember HST and EH very differently. However, how the world views a writer matters little at that moment of personal discovery when it feels as though the author is "speaking" directly to you—that stays with you forever.

I mentioned in an earlier thread that I believe the 20s bohos, the beats, the hippies and punks all share the same life force—what Liz talked about—seekers, seers and sayers. I think Hunter will be remembered as one of the strongest voices of his generation, along with Ken Kesey and Tom Wolfe. I think Hemmingway will be remembered as one of the strongest voices of the century.

A Moveable Feast, to this day, makes me see and experience Paris differently… Then again, I have never been able to walk into Circus Circus since reading FALILV without fleeting images of polar bears and wolverines.

Posted: Thu Sep 22, 2005 2:14 am
by gilly
I've read some Hemingway..I especially enjoyed..'A moveable Feast'..but I find him to be completely over rated..To me,Hunter was/is an unique voice and Hemingway was very much concerned about the way he was perceived,which coloured the way he wrote..There is nothing really pure in his writing..it's full of his arrogance..Sorry to be so dogmatic.But to me ,there is no comparison between Hunter and Hemingway :cool:

Posted: Thu Sep 22, 2005 6:08 am
by Endora
Hemingway is very much under-read here, and he's certainly not percived as a women's choice of author. He's seen as overtly macho, and not in tune with the mood of how men and women see themselves now (my opinion there, not an expert's). Srt's post above has made me think to read some more Hemingway, because for the reasons stated, I've read very little.

So hooray for ONBC (and JD, indirectly) for another horizon broadened!

Posted: Thu Sep 22, 2005 7:27 am
by Veronica
dharma_bum wrote:
lumineuse wrote:I think Hunter's legacy will be more journalistic, while Hemingway's is more literary. Hunter's longevity reamins to be seen, but I think Hemingway's is pretty much alreday established.

I too think the world will remember HST and EH very differently. However, how the world views a writer matters little at that moment of personal discovery when it feels as though the author is "speaking" directly to you—that stays with you forever.

I mentioned in an earlier thread that I believe the 20s bohos, the beats, the hippies and punks all share the same life force—what Liz talked about—seekers, seers and sayers. I think Hunter will be remembered as one of the strongest voices of his generation, along with Ken Kesey and Tom Wolfe. I think Hemmingway will be remembered as one of the strongest voices of the century.

A Moveable Feast, to this day, makes me see and experience Paris differently… Then again, I have never been able to walk into Circus Circus since reading FALILV without fleeting images of polar bears and wolverines.


:bounce: Yup I agree with that, dm, :cool: :cool: interesting reads tonight/today. I have been going through everyones post & I dont think I can add anything more. When I read that white elephant story posted above that reminded me of Saroyan. pure, simple, you couldnt stop reading it, you felt as if you were there sitting at the table. I think both writters have the ability to take you anywhere and make you feel whatever it is they are talking about.