Ernest Gets It Right

I’m not an Ernest Hemingway fan. I’m trying to like him. I really am. I read The Sun Also Rises in college and hated it. And that might be an understatement.

The characters in that book are all douche bags. And then I read a couple of biographies about Ella and F. Scott Fitzgerald and came to the conclusion that Hemingway might have been as much of a douche as his characters.

But I love American novelists. And I want to support the American literary tradition. So I made myself choose another Hemingway book to read. I chose Islands in the Stream. So far, I love it. The only problem? Hemingway didn’t do the final edits and cuts. He died while the book was still in manuscript form. His wife Mary published the book posthumously based on his manuscript. She and his editor made spelling and grammar corrections and a few cuts but left it largely untouched. That makes me wonder had Hemingway actually finished the book to his liking would I like it?

But all of that aside, I came to a passage that really struck me last week. Friday the 26th was the one year anniversary of my cousin’s death. That’s a story for another time, but I came across this quote last week and it’s so true I almost like Hemingway just for this quote:

He thought that on the ship he could come to some terms with his sorrow, not knowing, yet, that there are no terms to be made with sorrow. It can be cured by death and it can be blunted or anesthetized by various things. Time is supposed to cure it, too. But if it can be cured by anything less than death, the chances are that it was not true sorrow.

Ernest Hemingway – Islands in the Stream p. 195


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