Friday, January 19, 2018
Ernest Hemingway—A Conflicted 'Rogue Male?'
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Ernest Hemingway, second from left, hunts pheasants at the Gooding Ranch with friends Tom Gooding, Gene Van Guilder and Lloyd Arnold in 1939. Courtesy: Community Library Regional History Department in Ketchum
 
Saturday, September 17, 2016
 

BY KAREN BOSSICK

Ernest Hemingway may have been one of the great hunters of his day.

But he did not seem particularly interested in conservation or preservation, in the demise of the landscape or of animal species.

In fact, the long list of trophies he bagged during a month-long safari to Africa in 1933 totals 50 different species, including 30 hyenas.

He also slaughtered 27 sharks with a Tommy Gun in the Bimini Islands, despite his contention that it is not sport unless there’s an element of danger.

An image of Hemingway posing with a 1,175-pound marlin—the largest caught to date in 1935—portrays the Hemingway we know—the Hemingway of “mastery over nature,” said Kevin Maier,  associate professor of English at the University of Alaska Southeast.

Maier was among the speakers at this year’s 2016 Ernest Hemingway Festival.

Maier noted that Hemingway’s image as a master hunter and fisherman were formulated at an early age. He learned to shoot at 2. And photographs show a tousle-haired boy fishing in a buckskin suit before he ever entered grade school.

“TRUE: The Man’s Magazine” featured a cover of Hemingway as a “Rogue Male,” a bellowing elephant in the background. And in 1934 “Vanity Fair” published Hemingway paper dolls, in which Hemingway fans could adorn the author in cave man dress or dress more appropriate to a fisherman, matador or soldier.

But, later in life, Hemingway seems more interested in watching than killing—as shown in a 1953 picture showing his arm around Mary.

"Hemingway created a stage on which he could be any character he chose," Maier added. "But, in reality Hemingway was more complicated, a man who’s struggling with his masculinity."

“I think Hemingway found himself trapped by his persona,” Maier said. “He put on a front and acted out the caricature of himself. The published work that came out after he died was gentle, offering a much different portrait of who he really was.”

"Hemingway was didn’t write about his hometown of Oak Park, Ill., or his adopted home of Ketchum—he wanted to keep them out of the public eye," said Stacey Guill, who wrote her doctoral dissertation on Hemingway.

"But he had a boundless curiosity and sense of wonder—and a compulsion to share everything else he ran across," said Clyde Moneyhun, director of Boise State University’s Writing Center.

“He’d go skiing and write a story: Let me tell you how good the skiing is in Austria,” Moneyhun said." And he’d write that story with an almost artistic rendering based on his close observations."

A hunter could learn the best way to shoot a lion from Hemingway. His personal library contained 300-plus books on natural history, even one detailing the history of the butterfly in Africa.

This year’s conference brought together people from various places including Monterey, Calif.

Wildlife biologist Robert Wilson came from Salt Lake City.

"When I was young, I was drawn to Hemingway’s writings because of their fishing and hunting stories. Now that I’m older I like his writings because of all the layers,” he said. “ ’The Sun Also Rises’ always surprises me.”

Jeff Motychak, a wildlife biologist from McCall, concurred. “I’ve long been an admirer of his hunting and fishing stories. But I’m also amazed by how much he could say by saying so little. He really engages  readers. Different people draw out different things—and that’s a powerful thing to do.”

FOOD FOR THOUGHT:

Ernest Hemingway used the mountains as metaphors for leaving troubles behind. A man could “work the fat off his soul” in the environ of mountains, said Samantha Harvey, associate professor in Boise State University’s English Department.

 

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