“You must have no masters, for you are a master”


Rufus F.

Rufus is an American curmudgeon in Canada. He has a PhD in History, sings in a garage rock band, and does a bunch of other stuff.

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9 Responses

  1. Avatar Chris says:


    It is a great novel. Maybe his only great novel? But undoubtedly one.Report

  2. Avatar North says:

    By God(ess?) Hemingway wasn’t the only one in that relationship who could turn a phrase!Report

  3. Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

    “For Christ’s sake, man. Shut up. Write write write. Forget art and yourself- write. Keep your sweat to yourself.”

    Man, that’s good.Report

  4. This,

    My view is that you are a poser, a hypocrite upside down. Pretending to be hard boiled when you show pure- BECAUSE you know that you are a soft, yellow yolk with some white around it and a broken shell.

    got me thinking of a common perception of Hemingway as they hyper-macho, misogynistic guy. And for all I know, that view is well deserved. But what I get from reading Sun Also Rises (and Farewell to Arms, Hills Like White Elephants, and Big 2-Hearted River) is a challenge to that very machismo. Jake Barnes is macho, in a way, but he also feels pain, and we (or at least I) see that his machismo is kind of a front. He cries in bed at night and imagines Brett and Mike in bed (and probably her and Count Mippipopolous and Cohn). Bullfighting (the matador and the bull “become one” somewhere in the novel) is more than just killing an animal. It’s his (Barnes’s) purpose, in a way (and something he risks losing when he finds that Montoya has to forgive him of his friends.) He’s both envious and resigned and really, really doesn’t want her to feel bad even though he hurts her all the time (some comment about wanting to count up all the men she’s slept with). San Sebastian is “all shot to hell,” but he goes anyway. Barnes, even at 20-something, is a bitter in-the-process-of-becoming old man. But he (Barnes) is not the macho dude of stereotype. He’s not Robert Jordan trying to keep the clod from being washed away from the shore. He’s someone deeply hurt by something that is exogenous (the War) but also his own choice (volunteering on the “joke front” in Italy).

    (((I’m sorry about the stream of consciousness response. It’s just one of my favorite novels and I’m riffing off something that caught my attention in the letter. (I may or may not have been drinking.) At any rate, great post!!!))))Report

    • Avatar Rufus F. says:

      It’s striking to me that the early Hemingway novels that most stick with me are essentially romance novels with doomed love relationships at their center. The short stories tend more often to be about men among men, but like he says, even those tend to be more tenderhearted than Hemingway would have liked.Report

      • Perhaps that suggests that Hemingway was an “honest” writer, who took the story where it led him? If so, good on him.

        As (kind of) an aside, I’m curious about your work-in-progress (and I admit I haven’t read all your posts about it). It seems to be more about “this guy who knew Hemingway.” What about Guy Hickock as a person, and not just as “the person who knew Hemingway and traveled in Fascist Italy with him”? Maybe Hemingway is too much of a center for this piece? (I say this as speculation and (I hope) helpful criticism.)Report

  5. Avatar rexknobus says:

    “The Bumpy Road to Appreciation”

    So at 18 (1968) I knew that as an American male I had to like, or at least experience, Hemingway. Read “The Sun Also Rises.” Really didn’t get what the fuss was about. To my friends: “Jeez, it’s pretty dumb. If they love each other so much, they should just go to bed and get on with it. What’s the fuss? Is that some kind of literature thing? Cripes!”

    At 29, sitting around the pool in LA with a bunch of tanned actors, finishing my second read of the book (because I figured I must have been too young to get it the first time) slamming it shut and saying, too loud, to the entire group: “God, why is this such a big deal? They’re in love fer cryin’ out loud. Everybody is banging everybody. If these two goofs would just get it on the whole thing falls apart. This is literature? Cripes!”

    A close friend leans over and in a quiet voice says. “Check out somewhere around page four where you learn that it’s been shot off in the war.”


    A quick re-read. Damn…that’s one brilliant frikkin’ book.Report