Ernest Hemingway - Influence and Legacy

Influence and Legacy

Hemingway's legacy to American literature is his style: writers who came after him emulated it or avoided it. After his reputation was established with the publication of The Sun Also Rises, he became the spokesperson for the post–World War I generation, having established a style to follow. His books were burned in Berlin in 1933, "as being a monument of modern decadence". His parents disavowed his literature as "filth". Reynolds asserts the legacy is that "he left stories and novels so starkly moving that some have become part of our cultural heritage." In a 2004 speech at the John F. Kennedy Library, Russell Banks declared that he, like many male writers of his generation, was influenced by Hemingway's writing philosophy, style, and public image. Müller reports that Hemingway "has the highest recognition value of all writers worldwide". On the other hand, in 2012, novelist John Irving rejected most of Hemingway's work "except for a few short stories", saying that the "write-what-you-know dictum has no place in imaginative literature". Irving also objected to the "offensive tough-guy posturing—all those stiff-upper-lip, don’t-say-much men" and contrasted Hemingway's approach to that of Herman Melville, citing the latter's advice: 'Woe to him who seeks to please rather than appall.'"

Benson believes the details of Hemingway's life have become a "prime vehicle for exploitation", resulting in a Hemingway industry. Hemingway scholar Hallengren believes the "hard boiled style" and the machismo must be separated from the author himself. Benson agrees, describing him as introverted and private as J. D. Salinger, although Hemingway masked his nature with braggadocio. In fact, during World War II, Salinger met and corresponded with Hemingway, whom he acknowledged as an influence. In a letter to Hemingway, Salinger claimed their talks "had given him his only hopeful minutes of the entire war" and jokingly "named himself national chairman of the Hemingway Fan Clubs."

The International Imitation Hemingway Competition was created in 1977 to publicly acknowledge his influence and the comically misplaced efforts of lesser authors to imitate his style. Entrants are encouraged to submit one "really good page of really bad Hemingway" and winners are flown to Italy to Harry's Bar.

The minor planet 3656 Hemingway, discovered in 1978 by Soviet astronomer Nikolai Stepanovich Chernykh, was named after Hemingway.

The influence is evident with the many restaurants named "Hemingway"; and the proliferation of bars called "Harry's" (a nod to the bar in Across the River and Into the Trees). A line of Hemingway furniture, promoted by Hemingway's son Jack (Bumby), has pieces such as the "Kilimanjaro" bedside table, and a "Catherine" slip-covered sofa. Montblanc offers a Hemingway fountain pen, and a line of Hemingway safari clothes has been created.

In 1965 Mary Hemingway established the Hemingway Foundation and in the 1970s she donated her husband's papers to the John F. Kennedy Library. In 1980 a group of Hemingway scholars gathered to assess the donated papers, subsequently forming the Hemingway Society, "committed to supporting and fostering Hemingway scholarship."

Ray Bradbury wrote The Kilimanjaro Device, with Hemingway transported to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. The 1993 film Wrestling Ernest Hemingway, about the friendship of two retired men in a seaside town in Florida, is named after a story one of the characters (played by Richard Harris) tells about having wrestled Hemingway in the 1930s.

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