Hemingway’s Politics Were No Secret—Just Read His Only Crime Novel | David Masciotra | CrimeReads


Kevin Lindemann and Cathy Campo
 


Jim Farmelant
 

Yah, I remember when I had to do a term paper on Hemingway for a high school English class, some fifty years ago, reading Carlos Baker's biography of Hemingway where he asserted that Hemingway had little interest in politics, and that to the extent that he had a political philosophy, it was a Jeffersonian one of believing that the best governance involved the least governance. That view of Hemingway was belied by the fact that in the thirties, he went to Spain as a journalist that was avowedly supportive of the Spanish Republican side and he also did fundraising for the Republican side too. His novel For Whom the Bell Tolls was explicitly pro-Republican. And Hemingway was writing articles for left publications like The New Masses.


John Reimann
 

Since I like to read mysteries and such for relaxation, I decided to get this book from the library. As those familiar with it know, it's written in the first person of somebody who owns a sports fishing boat. I was surprised to see the frequent use of the "n word" in the first few pages, as in "the n did this" or "the ni said that". Frankly, it bothered me so much that I just wasn't enjoying the book so I put it down. Does this continue throughout the book, and does anybody more familiar with Hemingway know what his attitude towards racism was?

John Reimann

--
“Science and socialism go hand-in-hand.” Felicity Dowling
Check out:https:http://oaklandsocialist.com also on Facebook


Andrew Stewart
 

Several years ago there was a biography titled Sailor Soldier Writer Spy that dives into recently declassified OSS/CIA and FBI files about Hemingway, who had significant sympathies for the CPUSA and Popular Front. The theory is that he just barely avoided McCarthyism by the skin of his teeth thanks to his celebrity and it was a major engine that fueled the paranoia of his final years. 

Even as either a Fellow Traveler or member of the CPUSA, Hemingway still has significant issues. One of the earliest short stories is about date rape and ends with a deeply problematic notion of consent being granted halfway through the assault. There are issues with other gender/sexuality topics that have fueled an entire century of toxic masculinity and that whole macho alpha-male posturing act. He was a very rough father and one of his trans daughters died an ugly, unhappy death because of all of the internalized hatred. 

A very similar historical personage is film director John Ford, who followed quite a similar trajectory with a very similar “tough guy” profile. Even his best movies that tried to address racism and white supremacy, namely THE SEARCHERS and SGT RUTLEDGE, had deeply problematic issues that cannot be brushed aside as simply as some scholars wish. In my view, the most potent and sustained critique of these issues comes from Frantz Fanon, recent biographies have indicated that he wrote his books to partially serve as a critique/response to the Comintern colonial policy and the wartime Soviet Union’s failures in regards to racism.


Anthony Boynton
 

It continues throughout. If you can't read Hemingway, try reading Huck Finn. The language hadn't been changed by the struggles of the 50's and 60's which made the N word into the most offensive word in the English language. Before we marched and demonstrated and fought, it was an "acceptable" part of the English language, and the Founding Fathers who had owned slaves were considered to be good guys. We have changed the world for the better in some important ways including the way we ahve changed language.


Donal Deroiste
 

Sad to relate when I was young in Ireland there was a publicly displayed color of clothing in Roche's stores Cork "N....Brown".  No one did anything about it that I know of.


On Mon, 10 Jan 2022 at 19:30, Anthony Boynton <anthony.boynton@...> wrote:
It continues throughout. If you can't read Hemingway, try reading Huck Finn. The language hadn't been changed by the struggles of the 50's and 60's which made the N word into the most offensive word in the English language. Before we marched and demonstrated and fought, it was an "acceptable" part of the English language, and the Founding Fathers who had owned slaves were considered to be good guys. We have changed the world for the better in some important ways including the way we ahve changed language.


Michael Meeropol
 

I don't know if the Hemingway usage captures the spirit of the times but I think the language in Huck Finn "works" --- racism is a terrible thing --- and Twain exposes it brilliantly in Huck Finn (the character of Jim is so strong that Huck cannot "pray a lie" when he tries to apologize to God for protecting Jim (a runaway) from being captured and sent back to slavery) --- and racists should use that language.

Black folks do/did too --- Read August Wilson's plays --- (I always thought the younger playwright of A NIGHT IN MIAMI reduced authrenticity when she had those four characters call each other "Negro")

WHen the TV series ROOTS was on TV it was essential that racist white folks use that language ---

WHen I would read aloud in my classes that dealt with racism, I wouldn't READ that word aloud --- but to doctor the books seems a bit silly --- It is essential to warn people about all reading, film, etc. that might seriously create flashes of pain (I guess the technical term is "trigger warnings") but the realities described in books, etc. are important.

(By the way, I always was very impressed by Mark Harris the baseball writer whose book THE SOUTHPAW introduced Henry W. Wiggen to readers --- He blanks out only Fuck and the N-word leaving bastard and other "curse" words whole --- in contrast to newspapers at the time who blanked out words like bastard but left the N-word in full print ...)

On Mon, Jan 10, 2022 at 2:30 PM Anthony Boynton <anthony.boynton@...> wrote:
It continues throughout. If you can't read Hemingway, try reading Huck Finn. The language hadn't been changed by the struggles of the 50's and 60's which made the N word into the most offensive word in the English language. Before we marched and demonstrated and fought, it was an "acceptable" part of the English language, and the Founding Fathers who had owned slaves were considered to be good guys. We have changed the world for the better in some important ways including the way we ahve changed language.



Anthony Boynton
 

I agree with Michael about Huck Finn. It was a brilliant attack on racism made in the language of the people of that time. If I remember correctly, Hemingway's use of the "N" word fit the time and place: Key West Florida and Cuba during the depression, but his book was not an attack against racism, rather it was an attack on the corrupt and decadent lives of the rich contrasted with the poverty and degradation of everyone else.

On Mon, Jan 10, 2022 at 3:37 PM Michael Meeropol <mameerop@...> wrote:
I don't know if the Hemingway usage captures the spirit of the times but I think the language in Huck Finn "works" --- racism is a terrible thing --- and Twain exposes it brilliantly in Huck Finn (the character of Jim is so strong that Huck cannot "pray a lie" when he tries to apologize to God for protecting Jim (a runaway) from being captured and sent back to slavery) --- and racists should use that language.

Black folks do/did too --- Read August Wilson's plays --- (I always thought the younger playwright of A NIGHT IN MIAMI reduced authrenticity when she had those four characters call each other "Negro")

WHen the TV series ROOTS was on TV it was essential that racist white folks use that language ---

WHen I would read aloud in my classes that dealt with racism, I wouldn't READ that word aloud --- but to doctor the books seems a bit silly --- It is essential to warn people about all reading, film, etc. that might seriously create flashes of pain (I guess the technical term is "trigger warnings") but the realities described in books, etc. are important.

(By the way, I always was very impressed by Mark Harris the baseball writer whose book THE SOUTHPAW introduced Henry W. Wiggen to readers --- He blanks out only Fuck and the N-word leaving bastard and other "curse" words whole --- in contrast to newspapers at the time who blanked out words like bastard but left the N-word in full print ...)

On Mon, Jan 10, 2022 at 2:30 PM Anthony Boynton <anthony.boynton@...> wrote:
It continues throughout. If you can't read Hemingway, try reading Huck Finn. The language hadn't been changed by the struggles of the 50's and 60's which made the N word into the most offensive word in the English language. Before we marched and demonstrated and fought, it was an "acceptable" part of the English language, and the Founding Fathers who had owned slaves were considered to be good guys. We have changed the world for the better in some important ways including the way we ahve changed language.



Andrew Stewart
 

In the biography I mentioned they make the case that Hemingway was quite friendly with Fidel Castro. When Ken Burns made his stupid documentary about Vietnam they interviewed a female soldier that read FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS on the Ho Chi Minh Trail (perhaps one of the few decent sequences of the production).


Dave Lindorff
 

I'm with you on this. It seems wrong to me to avoid the term nigger to protect the tender sensibilities of black student readers, if the puspose is to portray the ugly vileness of the racists of the time. Your mentioning of Twain in his books notably Huck Finn, was a vivid portrayal of the racist toxicity of that time. We had a radical middle school art teacher here in Upper Dublin, PA who was viciously attacked by her school administration because she spoke up at a School Board meeting in defense of a protest by local parents and the NAACP at the school's teaching of Huck Finn in seventh grade English. Here position was that she did not believe in banning books but felt that if teachers were going to teach those books it had to include their undergoing racial sensitivity training and also a fair and honest presentation fo the true hisory of slavery, segregation and racism in the US. The book, that is, had to be presented in context, not just read as just another piece of the literary canon. 
Dave Lindorff

On Mon, Jan 10, 2022 at 3:37 PM Michael Meeropol <mameerop@...> wrote:
I don't know if the Hemingway usage captures the spirit of the times but I think the language in Huck Finn "works" --- racism is a terrible thing --- and Twain exposes it brilliantly in Huck Finn (the character of Jim is so strong that Huck cannot "pray a lie" when he tries to apologize to God for protecting Jim (a runaway) from being captured and sent back to slavery) --- and racists should use that language.

Black folks do/did too --- Read August Wilson's plays --- (I always thought the younger playwright of A NIGHT IN MIAMI reduced authrenticity when she had those four characters call each other "Negro")

WHen the TV series ROOTS was on TV it was essential that racist white folks use that language ---

WHen I would read aloud in my classes that dealt with racism, I wouldn't READ that word aloud --- but to doctor the books seems a bit silly --- It is essential to warn people about all reading, film, etc. that might seriously create flashes of pain (I guess the technical term is "trigger warnings") but the realities described in books, etc. are important.

(By the way, I always was very impressed by Mark Harris the baseball writer whose book THE SOUTHPAW introduced Henry W. Wiggen to readers --- He blanks out only Fuck and the N-word leaving bastard and other "curse" words whole --- in contrast to newspapers at the time who blanked out words like bastard but left the N-word in full print ...)

On Mon, Jan 10, 2022 at 2:30 PM Anthony Boynton <anthony.boynton@...> wrote:
It continues throughout. If you can't read Hemingway, try reading Huck Finn. The language hadn't been changed by the struggles of the 50's and 60's which made the N word into the most offensive word in the English language. Before we marched and demonstrated and fought, it was an "acceptable" part of the English language, and the Founding Fathers who had owned slaves were considered to be good guys. We have changed the world for the better in some important ways including the way we ahve changed language.



Richard Modiano
 

Ismael Reed made a spirited defense for The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn some years ago when a sanitized edition was announced:

"Instead of doing a gotcha search on Twain’s “Huckleberry Finn,” I recommend that its critics read it. They will find that Twain’s Jim has more depth than the parade of black male characters that one finds in recent movies, theater and literature, who are little more than lethal props. Jim is self sufficient, capable of fending for himself amidst dire circumstances, cares about his family, is religious and has goals. He is one of the few characters in the book with any kind of integrity.

In a time when blacks were considered by some to be little more than brutes, Twain has blacks communicating with one another through complicated codes while the whites commit such violence against the slaves and each other that the feuding between two families is such that only a few male members remain. Twain uses the same aggressive satire to expose the hypocrisy of the slave owners.

The fact that a critic has taken to tampering with Twain’s great work is another sign that the atavistic philistinism that has taken hold of our politics and culture has found a place in academia."


John Reimann
 

There is a huge difference between the time that Huck Finn was written and Hemingway's era. Even as a child myself in the 1950s (not so very long after Hemingway's book was written), I understood the meaning of the "n word". It was clearly understood to be an insult at best. If Hemingway didn't understand that, I can only conclude it was because he didn't care.

John Reimann

--
“Science and socialism go hand-in-hand.” Felicity Dowling
Check out:https:http://oaklandsocialist.com also on Facebook


Anthony Boynton
 

Hey Richard. No gotcha's around here. Who are you arguing with? A straw man that you put together. 

On Mon, Jan 10, 2022 at 10:39 PM Richard Modiano <richardmodiano@...> wrote:
Ismael Reed made a spirited defense for The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn some years ago when a sanitized edition was announced:

"Instead of doing a gotcha search on Twain’s “Huckleberry Finn,” I recommend that its critics read it. They will find that Twain’s Jim has more depth than the parade of black male characters that one finds in recent movies, theater and literature, who are little more than lethal props. Jim is self sufficient, capable of fending for himself amidst dire circumstances, cares about his family, is religious and has goals. He is one of the few characters in the book with any kind of integrity.

In a time when blacks were considered by some to be little more than brutes, Twain has blacks communicating with one another through complicated codes while the whites commit such violence against the slaves and each other that the feuding between two families is such that only a few male members remain. Twain uses the same aggressive satire to expose the hypocrisy of the slave owners.

The fact that a critic has taken to tampering with Twain’s great work is another sign that the atavistic philistinism that has taken hold of our politics and culture has found a place in academia."


Richard Modiano
 

I'm not arguing with anyone Anthony. I thought it would be of interest to the members to quote Reed's response to a 2002 controversy when an expurgated edition of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was announced, certainly not a straw man that Reed concocted. Reed is a terrific playwright and novelist and it seemed to me that his remarks were to the point.


Richard Modiano
 

Ishmael Reed's latest: The Slave Who Loved Caviar

"Ishmael Reed whom The New Yorker has called “American literature’s most fearless satirist” has put his investigative mind and pen with this play on the ruthless art market as it devours artists for the ever-novelty-hungry economic elite. The artists are the meat on the potlatch tables of the rich—they become fashion icons and photographic trophies for celebrity self-advertisement. The artist becomes a cult object whose personality and creativity are sucked dry by a vampire market that looks for new blood, the more exotic the better. Such was the ironic fate of Jean Michel Basquiat (1960-1988) who, in the 1980s, rose within less than five years from being a kid street artist to become a celebrated collector’s item—he and his art—though prominent art critics of the time diminished him with the moniker 'Andy Warhol’s mascot' –as if he was some exotic animal in Andy Warhol’s Factory of fashionable groupies who attained their '15 minutes of fame' by association with the ad-man Warhol. However, Jean Michel Basquiat was an artist who bared his raw young soul in his work and lost himself and his life in the maelstrom of the 'cool' fashionable club. This is the subject that Ishmael Reed dissects in his play-- a complex social history of art creation versus commodity marketing, racial identity and economic advantage, personal integrity and the lure of fame and fashion, encompassing the existential paradoxes of the outsider.

http://nytheatre-wire.com/bhb21121t.htm