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Why Is The Likeness Of Ernest Hemingway Used So Much? - Op-Ed Piece



 

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Here is a piece about a classic American writer and our opinion of his use in literature today.

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Why Is The Likeness Of Ernest Hemingway Used So Much? - Op-Ed Piece


Writers want to be known. No matter how much we all talk about the timeless story, intriguing plot, and essential character development, and how hard it is to write those words, we all want one thing, really. People to read us. I am sure some out there would be happy to allow computers to write their next great book if it meant a bestseller because that is the true goal of any writer. (That kind of question will be presented in a blog post later on since the AI writing better books than me or any other writer is not the topic for today)


I say this unfortunate truth about a writer’s willingness to forgo their involvement with the words in order to gain profit, not because I wish to degrade my fellow writers, there is a computer program I could use for that, but because there is one writer in particular who has reached an unprecedented amount of popularity and I am not sure if we are using his name properly. You can even go as far as say we have over-saturated the literature world with this man’s name.


The author is Ernest Hemingway, one of those names in literature you have to know, even if you don’t like him or even read him. The guy is still considered popular among Americans today, and he died nearly half a century ago. His basic sentence structure appeals to people as compared to the more elegant style of some of his contemporaries. The guy wrote for the average man, and it turns out there are a lot of them out there, so he has a large audience.


Now, a few strange observations about the author I had when reading him was how I didn’t think he was depressed or suicidal when reading his short stories, but once I heard about his death (which was suicide), then I put two and two together. He wrote like a depressed person in that he related to the darkness and the emptiness a little too much. Hey, we all have bad days where it seems that everything is going wrong, like the parking spot you are in getting crapped on by birds, the one aisle you want to go in the store is closed as soon as you walk in, and they got your order wrong at the fast food place. The world is clearly out to get you and your wicked ways and starts by not giving you the fries with your hamburger. I get it, though. When you are in the moment, you think that all is bad. You are depressed (like Hemingway) when you start to only see the bad things in your life. Did you notice the beautiful weather you had when you woke up? Do you remember the stranger wishing you a happy day when you left the store? Did you say the burger you got was delicious? No, the good never outweighs the bad to a disgruntled mind. Ever since coming to this revelation on the short story writer, I haven’t viewed his stories the same since there are many areas I read now where I say, “Oh my God. That is something only a depressed person would write.” I can point to the last line in A Clean Well-Lighted Place; “After all, he said to himself, it’s probably only insomnia. Many must have it.” That is an emotion that someone can only give who knows that suffering, so although the story never says it, I think that Hemingway may have suffered from insomnia (which I know is a different disorder than depression, but that is not the point. The point I am saying is that Hemingway was closer to the sadness than we ever thought because he was so poignant and creative)

Another thing I think of quite often with Hemingway was a story I read once about how he thought people were spying on him in old age, which is a weird thing for a popular writer to mention. To give you some context, imagine if you were reading an interview on this blog and one of the responses to a question related to the government keeping an eye on the author being interviewed. You would be weirded out by it, right? I am not saying I believe the guy since it could be the mind of a delusional old man suffering from a lifelong case of depression that turned into paranoia at his age. What I get from Hemingway thinking people in the government were spying on him is even late in life, he was not in the system, or as George Carlin said, “In the club” His literary life reflects this since he was awarded a Pulitzer for The Old Man and The Sea, as a lifetime achievement award more than the greatness of the individual book. And despite his renown in America and the love that many Americans still admire his words to this very day, Hemingway did not live much of his life even in his home country. There are many things Ernest Hemingway was, one of the noble elite who has a say on the inner workings of our society, is not one of them. (Yes, you can argue this helped his “everyman” persona)


This gets me to his over usage in the world today. For the record, I am not saying there is a connection between the author’s frequency in our society and his own mindlessness. (That is a little much, even for me)


Example 1- Editing Site


Any writer knows there is a writing program with Hemingway’s name on it. I am speaking literally here. The site is called Hemingwayapp.com and can be used for copy editing. You can put in an article, like the one that I am writing for you, and get feedback a copy editor would give you. If you want more details, all you have to do is pay a monthly fee. Personally, I don’t like using it. I find Grammarly easier to use. But there you have it. One of the most used editing sites shares Hemingway’s name. Think that is it? Nope, there is more.


Example 2 – A modern typewriter


There is a new device called FreeWrite, which is marketed as a typewriter for the modern writer. It is supposed to help you from distractions and to just write. I admit that I was almost tempted to buy it since I am always up for trying new technologies for my writing, but after the pitch, I realized there is a more Occam’s Razor take to the problem. If I want to get rid of the distractions, then maybe I should, you know, get rid of them. Turn off the phone. Turn off the music. And close the other tabs on my laptop and just write. If that is too much for you to do as a writer, and you need a device to help with your focus, then maybe writing is not for you since focusing on words is 90 percent of the job. Having said all of that, I don’t blame you if you have it since, as I said, this is a device I am intrigued by, but not enough to buy it.


I got a funny story before we return to Hemingway; one day, my dad told me, “You know what? There are too many words. We don’t need them all. Who says all of those words? Like that one the guy just said. Who says that?” I looked at him and said, “Yeah, that may work for your friend at lunch, but not for me. I am not the guy to say that too.” We both got a good chuckle out of it and moved on with our day. The word he was talking about was alacrity, by the way. Back to the typewriter that I won’t buy…


What does an outdated product have to do with my original point of Hemingway? Well, what do you know? Who is the writer that FreeWrite uses to promote the dang thing? What edition are they using to get people involved in the product? Hemingway. They literally call it the Hemingway edition. I guess they want you to forget that laptops exist and wish to roleplay as Hemingway long enough to buy the product until one day when you are using it, someone comes up to you and asks, “Why don’t you just use your laptop?” You then have to ask yourself the awful question, “If Hemingway was around today, would he use a laptop or a typewriter?” I mean, I can’t say I spoke to anyone in the Hemingway household, but I think I can safely say the author would have the common form of typing of this time if he were alive today, which is not a typewriter (Obviously)


You may be asking yourself, after the two instances of the free use of the classic writer’s name, why doesn’t the Hemingway estate do anything about this? In which case, you are correct. I don’t know why there isn’t more legal action by the team, or family, or anyone who has the rights to Hemingway’s works. These places are using his name to promote something, and unless the Hemingway estate is making money from it (which we as consumers should be notified of), then these businesses can’t go right along selling products like this since his name is the reason for the purchase.


And no, my writing this blog post doesn’t count. I am not making a bland, useless product and then slapping on a great writer’s name to sell it. I am not promoting an item, knowing that you like Hemingway, so I give you the Hemingway edition, even if the product may not be for you. I am writing an article for you, not selling you something.


Oh, you thought we were done? We aren’t.


Example 3 – Hemingway in a bar


My mom was watching a cooking show once and called me over to the TV to show me something I would find interesting. (she knows I am all-in with this literature life) A place has a statue, a literal statue of the great author, at the bar. Yeah, I am not making that up. There is a bar you can go to and drink next to the statue of Ernest Hemingway. I am sure that some drunk fool spoke to the statue a few times, thinking it was the real man. “Say, Hem, I loved that story about the marlin and the old man. You know, the one you wrote about the old man out at sea. That was a great book. What was the name of that again?” When do you think the place came up with that idea exactly? Do you think that they planned on having the statue there all along? Or do you think the bartender requested it after reading A Farewell To Arms? Either way, this bar is doing what the other places on this list are doing. They use the likeness and popularity of Ernest Hemingway, arguably America’s most famous writer, for their own good and don’t seem interested in giving the Hemingway family or company any compensation.


Don’t get me wrong, having a statue of a great author in your bar is awesome, and maybe they did it legally, but that doesn’t change the fact they are part of a trend in the literary world, where the name of Hemingway is to be put wherever since people know and like him. The businesses close to books think that Hemingway means more money to them.


We got one more.


Example 4 – Feminists love to rip the guy

Whenever modern feminists talk about how old white men wrote only about themselves and their world and didn’t even respect women, they bring up no other than Ernest Hemingway. They say that he is a drunk and hated women, and because of that, you shouldn’t read him. It appears that their words go to deaf ears, though, since the author’s audience is still very high, despite their vocal protest.


Do you know how I am saying that Hemingway is an all-time great writer? Yeah, the modern feminist reader would have none of that and shred the guy to pieces. They are like atheists, though, in that after a while, it is exhausting to listen to them. I get it. You hate Hemingway. You hate God. I’ll be honest, though, I don’t care enough about your opinion to argue with you about it. Can I get back to my life now? One that is noticeably without you in it?


Let’s go through all the people that haphazardly use the Hemingway name for their own good. We got some editing site that uses it. We have a typewriter that acts like typewriters are not outdated. We have a bar who pretends like statues are to be by the beer. Oh, and we have the people who hate Hemingway who use it. Can’t we let the poor guy be? The writer has been dead for decades, and we have created an industry of taking advantage of his name.


Ironically enough, none of these places will act like they are doing anything bad. Instead, they will present it as an homage to the writer or as a necessary attack (for the feminists). They won’t act like they are picking the guy as a test sample since he is probably one of only a handful of writers that the masses can even name. The editing site will tell you they are editing like Hemingway. The typewriter will tell you they are trying to help you write like Hemingway. The bar will tell you they want you to experience life with Hemingway. The feminist will tell you they are exposing Hemingway. Meanwhile, they are all just using the guy.


God forbid any American author reaches the same heights as Hemingway because that only means that any and all will use that writer’s name for their own business. Maybe that old man was on to something with his fear of the system…

 

 
Ending

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About The Blogger

Greg Luti is an editor and blogger on pensandwords.com. His favorite writers are Robert Frost and Charles Bukowski. He enjoys reading up on history, watching comedies, and playing video games, when he is not writing down a few notes for his next piece. He started this blog out of his love for literature and hopes the reader shares that passion.

 

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