A QUESTION OF PERCEPTION?

I can be impatient especially when I’m reading and little or nothing is coming out. Criticism in some of my blogs on specific books might reveal this weakness. But I like when I learn that I should trust myself.

In A Moveable Feast Hemingway reports a conversation he had with a poet, Evan Shipman who called the younger writer, Hem.

“‘I’ve been wondering about Dostoyevsky,’ I said. ‘How can a man write write so badly, so unbelievably badly, and make you feel so deeply?’

‘It can’t be the translation,’ Evan said…”(p. 137, NY, Scribners, 1964) 

Hem’s was was my impression: Why is this guy writing about mentally ill people staying in Germany? I could not feel deeply for anything Dostoy wrote because I couldn’t get by the writing. I feel good that my reaction is affirmed by someone else in this business.

I also should not be influenced by critics and toady scholars with a vested stake in Russian literature. It is likely they know nothing. Elsewhere in A Moveable Feast Hem gives advice to another writer after a whining conversation: “Look, if you can’t write why don’t you learn to write criticism?” (p. 95)

A Moveable Feast is not directly about Hemingway’s writing career in Paris, circa 1920-1925, but there are many solid points that he makes in passing. He also has an enlightening and funny chapter on F. Scott Fitzgerald and a sour chapter describing the rich discovering a ski resort. 

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