romancingtheclassics

One girl's journey to read the top 100 literature classics of all time in the space of 365 days, a quest for only the most foolhardy and brave

Archive for the tag “ernest hemingway”

Home james….

Oh henry james, I just want to go home.. The Wings of The Dove is tortuous.. I’m still going but came across some really well put literature quotes I thought I’d share.

“Literature is a textually transmitted disease, normally contracted in childhood.”
Jane Yolen, Touch Magic
 
“Have a heart that never hardens, and a temper that never tires, and a touch that never hurts.”
Charles Dickens
 
“The man who does not read books has no advantage over the man who can not read them.”
Mark Twain (1835-1910) U.S. humorist, writer, and lecturer.
 
“Books are the carriers of civilisation. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill.”
– Barbara W. Tuchman
 
oh and how I can relate to this one. Hemingway I’ll always be your groupie.
 
“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.”
Ernest Hemingway (1898-1961) American Writer.
 
x
J

ask not what your book can do for you, but what you can do for your book

With it being Anzac day and all thoughts turning to the diggers lost and diggers serving, I thought it would be appropriate to include a few of my favourite quotes which reflect on war and it’s impact.

“And even if the wars didn’t keep coming like glaciers, there would still be plain old death.”Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five, Chapter 1

“The coward dies a thousand deaths, the brave but one.”Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms, Chapter 21

“Anger was washed away in the river along with any obligation.”Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms, Chapter 32

“War is not won by victory.”Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms, Chapter 9

“All the war-propaganda, all the screaming and lies and hatred, comes invariably from people who are not fighting.” George Orwell

“Every war when it comes, or before it comes, is represented not as a war but as an act of self-defense against a homicidal maniac.” George Orwell

“Patriotism is usually stronger than class hatred, and always stronger than internationalism.” George Orwell

I couldn’t resist including some of my other favourite quotes on the subject. Reminds you just how evocative and powerful the written word can be in any era.

“Wars teach us not to love our enemies, but to hate out allies.’ Ulysses S. Grant

“War may sometimes be a necessary evil. But no matter how necessary, it is always an evil, never a good. We will not learn how to live together in peace by killing each other’s children.’ Jimmy Carter.

“War is a cowardly escape from the problems of peace.’ Theodore Roosevelt

I think Albert Einstein puts it well when he says: “I know not with what weapons Word War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”

and say what you will about Agatha Christie, but I think she has got it in one with:

“One is left with the horrible feeling now that war settles nothing, that to win a war is as disastrous as to lose one.”

Fitting words to end this Anzac Day and my journey trying to finish a book about a journalist reporting on a foreign war in Evelyn Waugh’s Scoop.

x

J

Which classic character gets you hot under the collar?

While pondering my shamless Hemingway groupie/crush fantasy I couldn’t help but think about some of the literary heart throbs which have crossed the pages I’ve read and that I’m about to read over the next couple of months.

If you could choose one literary heart throb to leap from the pages to save you, which one would it be?

a) Mr Darcy (Pride and Prejudice) – the moody one but still waters run deep

b) Mr Jay Gatsby (The Great Gatsby) – the rich one with emotional baggage and prone to loneliness

c) Mr George Knightley (Emma) – the male best friend secretly in love with the lead female and waiting in the wings

d) Hamlet (Hamlet) – the dark and troubled one with family issues

e) Heathcliffe (Wuthering Heights) – the bad boy who can bring out the worst in the lead character

f) Romeo (Romeo and Juliet) – the passionate lover who every girl family loves to hate

Personally when it comes to Authors, Hemingway is my man but when it comes to literature heart throbs I don’t think you can’t really go past Mr Darcy.

Be interested to hear what others think 🙂

x

J

Hemingway can I be your groupie?

Perhaps in search or inspiration or simply indulging in procrastination, I recently watched Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris. It seemed fitting considering  the film featured many of the writers whose work I have been reading recently.

.

Maybe because I’m a writer. Maybe because I’m sometimes I’m not sure I’m any good. Maybe because I too also dream of earlier times, namely the 30’s and 40’s when men were men and women were women. Or earlier still of the Tudor era. Either way I could really relate to Owen Wilson’s character.

Fear of success. Fear of failure. Fear to make a move in a game of chance with life. Paralysed by your own unknown potential.

It is the plague of writers and artists alike. But Hemingway was different and Woody completely captured it.  Or at least the way I imagine him to be. Everything was so certain. So clear. Including his own feelings on life and writing.

Did anyone else’s hearts beat faster when he came into frame? Mine certainly did. Forget being a groupie for One Direction or any flavour of the month band. I’d be Hemingway’s groupie any day.

When I saw him on-screen it made me think of one of his famous quotes and also one of my most cherished:

How could any modern-day Brad Pitt or equivalent heart-throb compare to Hemingway?

So once the DVD was returned to the rental store I thought to myself, what would Hemingway do?

Write. Of course. And so I did..

x

J

Running with bulls page by page..

Pamplona. Bull running. San Fermin festival. All through the eyes of Hemingway.

I couldn’t imagine anything better. Especially considering I have been to the very festival and places described in The Sun Also Rises.

It felt as though I was walking hand in hand with the man himself as he traversed the seedy underbelly of cafe life and jazz bars in Paris, the Pyrenees and then Pamplona with his affluent group of friends.

Whether its describing the bulls being unloaded from the corals, sparing with bull fighters, fly fishing in the Spanish countryside or drinking himself silly in Paris’s Montmartre quarter, Hemingway somehow makes everything sound autobiographical.

Of all the authors who I’ve come to meet on this epic literature journey, Hemingway has been the most honest. The most unashamedly real. Making his novels completely relatable.

Whether it’s matter of factly describing an anecdote or interchange between men and women, or probing into the lead characters own flaws, he somehow effortlessly makes you feel you are there in the room. As much a part of the story as the wine and gin they drink.

The simplicity of the prose is deceptive. This is a man who believes less is more and makes the smallest sentence deliver the biggest punch.

The story centers around Jake Barnes—a man whose war wound has made him impotent—and the promiscuous divorcée Lady Brett Ashley. Rather than choose a lead female who is either an old nag or an eligible young woman looking for marriage, Hemingway decides upon a vivacious divorcee who is experiencing sexual liberation and independence in post war Paris and not shy in making the most of it. She is not two-dimensional, but five or even six dimensional. Hemingway paints her in so many ways you aren’t sure at any one time if you like her, loathe or are inspired by her.

Yet again, like so many books in this top 100 list, the plot revolves around those with money and the misery they find themselves swimming in as they struggle to make their hopeless and vain existence meaningful.

Brett who even has a male name, embodies the modern woman, leaving broken men in her wake, including Jake who can never consummate his love with her. There is a sense of irony in this, that as one woman finally secures the freedom and power she craves and the men in her life become weaker.

In fact, Brett may be the first cougar to be put into writing. She captures the ardour of a 19-year-old spanish bull fighter in the middle of the festival and romances him into her bed. An impressive feat for any woman. But a divorcee in the 1920’s? I tip my hat to you dear lady..

In the end, what is left is a book with dominated by cougars, bullfighting, sangria, love triangles and debauchery. Could there be a more winning combination?

I doubt it, unless of course Hemingway was to read the story aloud to me himself. That will just have to be relegated to my day dreams. I girl can hope can’t she?

xx

that is not a fish, this is a fish…

Call me a speed reader but as soon as I dropped lord of the flies I picked up Mr Hemingway’s ‘Old Man and the Sea’.

It must be said I’m a Hemingway groupie from way back. He makes me swoon the way most girls experience facial paralysis and loss of body control when they perve on Channing Tatum in ‘The Vow.’

He, Hemingway that is not Channing, creates prose that is like literary porn for book nerds such as myself. In the words of Depeche Mode, I just can’t get enough.

The old man and the sea has always been a perennial favourite of mine so it was like taking a bath in chocolate to read it again. Every line reminds me of childhood fishing adventures. Casting a line, the rocking of the ocean, the silence, the beauty of just becoming part of the landscape.

While small, it is an epic book. One man and his enduring battle. Against the sea, against odds, against himself and against a magnificent fish.

With every page you can practically hear the lapping of the ocean against his boat, feel the film of salt against your skin, the sting of the line cutting into your palms and the sense of apprehension and excitement that comes when a line screams off the bow.

Every man, woman and child whether they are a fisher or not should read this book.

Has there ever been an author like Hemingway? I’m not sure, it could be why five of his books are on the top 100 list.

So with Easter around the bend, rather than indulge in a chocolate binge I’m going on a Hemingway gorge fest. Next up is The Sun Also Rises.

Let the overdose begin!
x
J

what I meant to say was…

So it seems to me that when it comes to insulting people and describing people unfavourably, no one does it better than a classic lit book.

Cleverly veiled barbs and hooks are weaved in the prose, designed to sting and take the wind out of any character’s sails.

So I thought it might be interesting to translate these insults into modern language just for the fun of it… after all it an insult in any era is enjoyable :p

She was a woman of high fashion –
What they meant to say : she’s a vain, materialistic cow

She had a great deal of manners which classed her as the most affected of women-
What they meant to say: She’s a boring snob

He was what she would describe as provincial
What they meant to say: He isn’t worth a second glance and is beneath me

She was a woman with a high, free spirit and was very engaging. She was often indelicate in her behaviour with men-
What they meant to say: She’s a dirty tramp/slut/whore

He had a pleasant countenance and unaffected manner-
What they meant to say: He’s alright

She is tolerable but not handsome enough to tempt me-
What they meant to say: She’s a feral and no one in their right mind would be interested

She had very cordial feelings toward him-
What they meant to say: She was fantasizing about marriage and the names of their babies

His sisters had the air of decided fashion –
What they meant to say: They were snobs who thought they looked better than they actually did

She was a woman of mean understanding, little information and an uncertain temper-
What they meant to say: She was not the sharpest tool in the shed

She had charming, happy manners –
What they meant to say: She didn’t throw herself at men like the rest of her trampy friends

She was headstrong and spirited –
What they meant to say: She never did what she was told and enjoyed a good roll in the hay

He had a most ungentlemanly disposition –
What they meant to say: He was a chauvinist pig

She boasted neither cleverness nor beauty –
What they meant to say: She is a butt ugly idiot

She was fond of society –
What they meant to say: She liked to hob nob and lived to kiss ass

He was fond of his own society –
What they meant to say: He was a loner and  was most likely into midget porn with the potential to be a serial killer

She had a wilful nature –
What they meant to say: She never did what daddy told her to do

and the best til last…

He was too proud for even his own company –
What they meant to say: He had his head up his ass so far he couldn’t see straight

xx
J

let the classification begin…

I may have just set myself a challenge that is a bit beyond me. It requires endurance, patience and persistence.

A marathon of sorts, not for the body but for the mind. The question is just how many classics can one person read in a row before turning mad? Before they start believing that Mr Darcy lurks around every corner and sees elements of Gatsby in every person they meet?

Well I’m not sure, but considering I do this already I may be lost before I’ve already begun.

You see I’ve always been a self-confessed book nerd with a voracious appetite. Always looking for my next hit, something that I can shoot into my veins to stir the heart, emotions and mind.

There is no greater thrill or rush better than discovering a truly orgasmic book for the first time. You long to savour the story and characters but also want to rush to the conclusion.

But when you turn that final page, nothing but bittersweet regret lingers, you’ll never read that book for the first time again. And so begins the search for another and another.

It can become an overwhelming addiction, I can assure you. So I suppose to tame the beast and also nourish the writer I’m trying so hard to grow within, I have decided to jump into the 20th century era classics and read the crème de la crème of them. The top 100 classics from top to tail in 365 days. No skipping, no reading forwards or movie adaptations, introductions in advance and definitely no reading notes. Solemnly absorbing them one by one.

Don’t worry you won’t be reading blog after blog of analytical reviews of the books, just some witty (where possible) insights into how relevant these classics are to us today and just what a wayward writer and aspiring author can hope to learn from them.

So despite the risk of falling into classic madness which I fear I already suffer, at the very least a classic obsession, I will begin.

xx

J

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