Hemingway, Gender and Identity
In this virtual event series, filmmakers and special guests explore the writer’s art and legacy. Conversations on Hemingway: Hemingway, Gender and Identity was presented by WNET New York Public Media and The Center for Fiction. It features Ken Burns, Lynn Novick, Mary Karr, Marc Dudley and Lisa Kennedy.
- Hello, and welcome to the Center For Fiction and WNET
for this event celebrating the spectacular film
about "Hemingway" by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick.
I'm Nan Graham and I'm wearing two hats today.
Hat number one, I've been
on the board of the Center For Fiction
One of tonight's sponsors for a decade now
since well before we conceived of our move
to the brand new gorgeous building in Brooklyn
right next to BAM, Mark Morris, and the Apple Store.
If you haven't been, we hope to be fully open again
sometime this summer with our fabulous event spaces
indoors and out waiters rooms, sitting rooms
and a stellar bookstore that is open now.
Hat number two I'm the publisher of Scribner.
My predecessor Max Perkins left us the books
by two Giant of American literature
F. Scott Fitzgerald and yes, Ernest Hemingway
who came to Scribner with his second book
at the urging of his friend, Scott.
I've spent a lot of time reading
and figuring out how to introduce new readers in Hemingway.
And I found this documentary, a revelation.
I admire Hemingway more deeply after watching it
his sentences, his courage, his work ethic.
I load him more deeply for his destruction
of his wives and a few other people.
And now I feel a far greater compassion for him.
Hemingway changed the furniture
in the room as Tobias Wolff says
and the film does a brilliant job of eliciting eloquence
from other writers about how he influenced them.
Toby, Tim O'Brien, Edna O'Brien and Mary Karr
whom you'll hear from tonight.
We at Scribner found the discussion about the short stories
so powerful and eliminating
that we made a new collection that reflects the film.
Thanks so much to PBS and the WMDT group
for co-sponsoring this event and both hats off
every hat off to Lynn and Ken
for their absolutely stunning film.
And now to the WNET groups, inimitable Neal Shapiro
who will introduce the panel.
- Thanks, Nan and good evening.
I'm Neal Shapiro, President and CEO of the WNET group
home of the PBS station to the tri-state area
13 WLIW 21 and NJPBS.
It's my great pleasure to be here with you this evening
in partnership with the Center for Fiction
as we celebrate "Hemingway," the upcoming documentary
from America's premier storytellers,
Ken Burns and Lynn Novick in this, their latest documentary.
They examine the complicated man behind the myth.
I want to extend a special, welcome
and warm thank you to our supporters
and viewers who joined us tonight.
I look forward to the may it come soon
when we can all see each other together.
And in person, we recognize that your dedication
and generosity helps us bring outstanding works
like "Hemingway" to you.
And tonight we're fortunate to be joined
by both the directors, Ken Burns and Lynn Novick
as well as poet and memoirist Mary Karr
and literary scholar and Marc Dudley
who both appear in the film
and conversation with accomplished writer, Lisa Kennedy.
Together they will discuss Ernest Hemingway's life and work
through the lens of gender and identity.
But first please enjoy your preview of "Hemingway"
and be sure to tune into 13
or your local PBS station on April 5th, sixth, and seventh
to see the full three part series, thank you.
- Hemingway was a writer who happened to be American
but his palette was incredibly wide
and delicious and violent and brutal and ugly.
All of those things.
It's something every culture can basically understand.
Every culture can understand falling in love with someone
the loss of that person of how great a meal tastes
how extraordinary this journey is.
That is not nationalistic, it's human.
And I think with all of his floats
with all the difficulties, his personal life, whatever
he seemed to understand human beings,
you see I'm trying and all my stories
to get the feeling of the actual life across,
not to just depict life or criticize it,
but to actually make it alive
so that when you have read something by me
you actually experienced the thing.
You can't do this without putting in the bad
and the ugly as well as what is beautiful
because if it is all beautiful, you can't believe it.
Things aren't that way.
It is only by showing both sides, three dimensions.
And if possible four that, you can write the way I want to.
- [Michael] Ernest Hemingway remade, American literature.
He paired storytelling to its essentials.
Change the way characters speak
expanded the worlds or writer could legitimately explore
and left an indelible record
of how men and women lived during his lifetime.
Generations of writers would find their work
measured against his, some followed the path he'd blazed
others rebelled against it, none could escape it.
He made himself the most celebrated American writer
since Mark Twain read and revered around the world.
- It's hard to imagine a writer today
who hasn't been in some way influenced by him.
It's like he changed all the furniture in the room
and we all have to sit in it to some,
we can kind of sit on the edge
of the arm chair on the arm or do this.
But you know he changed the furniture, the room.
The value of the American declarative sentence.
The way you build a house brick by brick, out of those
within a few sentences of reading a Hemingway story
you are not in any confusion as to who had written it.
- I can't imagine how it's possible
that any one writer could have so changed the language.
People have been copying him for nearly a 100 years
and they haven't succeeded in equaling what he did.
- If you're a writer you can't escape Hemingway.
He's so popular that you can't begin to write
till you try and kill his ghost in you or embrace it.
And I think identify that most about Hemingway
is that he was always questing.
The perfect line had not happened yet.
It was always a struggle trying to get it right.
And you never will.
- [Michael] For three decades
people who had not read a word he'd written
thought they knew him, wounded veteran
and battlefield correspondent, big game hunter
and deep sea fishermen, bullfighter aficionado, brawler
and lover, and man about town.
But behind the public figure
was a troubled and conflicted man
who belonged to a troubled and conflicted family
with its own drama and darkness and closely held secrets.
The world saw him as a man's man, but all his life
he would privately be intrigued
by the blurred lines between male and female, men and women.
There were so many sides to him.
The first of his four wives remembered
that he defied geometry.
- He was open to life.
He was open to tragedy.
He was open to feeling.
I liked that he fell in love
and he fell in love quite a few times.
He always had next woman before he left the existing woman.
- [Michael] He was off unkind and generous
to those in need of help.
And sometimes just as cruel and vengeful
to those who had helped him.
- [Man] I have always had the illusion.
It was more important or as important
to be a good man as to be a great writer.
I may turn out to be neither, but we'd like to be both.
- [Michael] Hemingway's story is a tale older,
even than the written word of a young man whose ambition
and imagination, energy and enormous gifts bring him wealth
and fame beyond imagining
who destroys himself trying to remain true
to the character he has invented.
- One of his weakness I was going to say failing.
And it was a great pity.
It's a great pity for any writer he loved an audience.
He loved an audience and in front of an audience
he lost the best part of himself
by trying to impress the audience.
- [Michael] I hate the myth of Hemingway
and the reason I hate the myth of Hemingway
get obscures the man
and the man is much more interesting than the myth.
I think he was a terrific father sometimes.
I think that he was a loving husband sometimes.
I think he was like so many people
except this enormous talent.
Hemingway is complicated.
He's very complicated.
The great thing is to last and get your work done
and see and hear, and learn and understand.
And right when there is something that you know
and not before and not too damned much after.
- Good evening.
- Good evening.
- Hello. - Hello.
- Wow well, let's get started.
I am Lisa Kennedy and I am visiting virtual New York
from Denver, Colorado this evening.
It's great to be back in New York.
And I wanna introduce just a little bit more
our wonderful panelists, starting
with the directors of this amazing challenging
and beautiful three-part series about Ernest Hemingway,
Ken Burns and Lynn Novick good to see you both.
And I also want to introduce
two people who will have a great deal to say
about gender and identity in the works of 'Hemingway"
and in the life of Hemingway poet, memoirist,
and oh yeah lyricist Mary Karr, whose bestselling memoirs
"Liars' Club," "Cherry" and let you know.
And possibly you also know her five books of poetry
her most recent being "Tropic of Squalor."
And then Marc Dudley is a Professor
at North Carolina State University
and he in 2019 published a book
called "Hemingway Race
"and Art Bloodlines and the Color Line"
And then, because he's not afraid of Titans
he more recently published a book called
"Understanding James Baldwin" which came out in 2019.
And I wanted to circle back to Ken and Lynn for a moment
because the list is very long.
So we won't go through the whole list of the works
that both of you have done
but you've done things that have really changed
I think have sort of expanded the vault
of how this nation understands itself.
And by actually going into the vaults often to the archives
as well as gathering amazing people to talk with
interview with as you did with this film.
And also just challenging the moment.
So some of those films of course
are like the "Dust Bowl," "Jazz", "Baseball," "The War"
and the "Vietnam War."
Lynn you have been a producer on a number of those films
but also you have co-directed along with Ken
"Hemingway," "The Vietnam War series,"
and also "Prohibition."
So I don't, and there are a lot of interviews
and I hear that we have this sort of massive
wonderful audience that's been following you all
from place to place to place.
So I think they know some of the awards as well.
Emmy's and Peabody's and there's not an et cetera.
There it's just like a wow there, but let's get started.
'Cause there's a lot to get to
in a fairly short amount of time.
One of the things I love about that introduction
is besides being an elegant introduction
to the scope of the three part series
it does something really interesting
which is it is a little bit of a bait and switch
because I think that my sort of reaction sometimes to
or hearing about this film before seeing it
was just a little bit like why now
Hemingway, why now at this moment
because this moment is so potent
for entirely the reasons we are gathered
for gender and identity, which includes,
I think sort of gender as identity,
but also ethnicity and race
as identity and American character and all those things.
So it's really interesting to have
Michael could talk us say sort of the things
that I think almost immediately make a person like me
get a little bit suspect about how this is going to be
sort of what is this gonna be like?
What is this it's not, I mean
neither of you are known for geographic films,
so that's not the anxiety.
The anxiety is just that it's really hard to shake off
or revisit the Canon sometimes.
And this is a writer that is absolutely essential
to the standard Canon of American letters.
And in fact, a great literature period.
And so I was intrigued by the kind of challenges
that you sort of knew going in that you would have,
and having this film exist in this moment in time,
and this moment has been going on for awhile,
but it has reasserted itself
in a lot of ways in terms of,
and I don't wanna get all hashtaggy on any of us
but there is a certain way in which this moment
is sort of understood in terms of me too, in some ways.
So that's gender and then also Black Lives Matter
and sort of the issues of like,
why now is this is this the guy we're gonna like
spend time with at this moment in the culture?
And I know that you are both too smart
not to have like, thought about these things.
So I'm really interested to hear from each of you,
how you wrestle with what your conversations were like.
And then if you had any conversations
with your sort of go-to writer about like
sort of maneuvering all this and how to have that rhythm
and also have respect for the character
and the writer and the person that is Hemingway.
- We've been thinking about this Lisa for decades literally
first from the early '80s that said
after "Civil War" do "Baseball" and "Hemingway."
And so Hemingway was always there
sort of just outside the yeses
that we said to the projects we were doing.
But a number of years ago, 10 years ago
we really began looking at it again
and started more than six years ago.
So not aware of what moment it would land in
but knowing from every other film that we've ever made
that it will land in something that resonates
not only with our topic,
but with new things that are going on
as if somehow we had designed the film
for a particular moment
I think just as life is subverted
by the inevitability of our death,
a theme that is constant in "Hemingway"
there's something wonderfully confounding
about how a deeper dive into Ernest Hemingway
subverts the kind of tropes that we expect.
And so the conversations
that we had with Geoffrey Ward our Writer,
and with our Senior Producer Sarah Botstein
were exactly that when in the context
of trying to lift the veil first
for us to leave our conventional wisdom
whatever baggage we had preconceptions
and to dive in, we didn't wanna make a film
that was telling you what we knew.
We wanted to share with you a process of discovery.
And part of it was knowing
that this guy came with this gigantic macho image.
Some of it naturally organically come to him.
I mean, he did like to fish.
He did like the big game on, he did do that.
He was a brawler, all that sort of stuff.
And yet underneath it was this incredibly new layer
that we were getting at that had to do
with a kind of interest in gender fluidity.
You can notice his hair is getting longer
and his wives hair are getting shorter.
This is very conscious and deliberate on his part
that there is a kind of insecurity and anxiety
that underlies a lot of that macho posturing
which sort of seems obvious at first breath.
And then I think Nan said it in her introduction,
you're drawn, you're still blown away
by the power of the art
you're horrified by some of the action.
And then you end up not just end up, you also have
or make room for a kind of compassion
for the complexity of the person.
And so if that lands in this moment
it is a kind of accident of our excrutiatingly long
consciously attenuated process to try to get it right.
So lots of stuff happened in the six and a half years.
Things came and went
and re intensified reintroduce themselves.
And here we find ourselves in this moment
having just put our nose to the grindstone.
Somebody said that work is love made visible
and Hemingway was a good worker
and we've tried to be inspired a little bit
by the discipline that attended to him
until his demons overtook him.
That's way too long of an answer.
And it's not really an answer
Lynn we'll be smarter about this.
- I don't know I appreciate that.
Well I think the questions that you raised were
front and center to our inquiry from the beginning
and before we started working on the film, even.
So why do we wanna make the film?
What is it about Hemingway that draws us
and why would an audience wanna watch it?
And then it sort of drove who we spoke to
and what questions we asked.
And two of our great stars of the film are here today
to help us unpack some of this along with Abraham Bergeys.
So we saw the intro and an O'Brien.
So we asked everyone when we spoke to you about Hemingway
the same questions you just asked us,
and that helped to inform what the film would be
and how we would engage those issues frankly.
So we didn't know going in, but what we would discover
it was really asking ourselves,
why would people wanna watch a film about Hemingway?
Because he's a great, great writer
and a very complicated guy,
but then in a deeper way,
we are reevaluating the icons of our culture
and looking at our history differently.
And I think having much deeper understanding of complexities
of the relationships between men and women
and masculinity and all the things
it just made the thumb so much more interesting.
And I think I would have really fully been aware
of when we started talking about this 20 years ago.
- No, I think that's actually a really amazing thing
because in a certain way,
you both have just made an argument
for not only did this film wind up at this moment
but actually I think that this film is the beneficiary
potentially of this moment as well,
which is that we're asking a different set of questions
about identity and fluidity and non binary-ness
and all kinds of things and things
about race in terms that I think also like make us smarter.
It's just like, I know that Marc will talk about it
which is that Toni Morrison says,
the dreamer and the dream in some ways.
And so the into sort of question that is to also
open up a different understanding of the work,
which I always think is great, right?
It isn't just, it can't be just the myth.
It's really about the work.
And you all ended with a beautiful piece of writing
and that introduction that just sort of reminds us
and I think grounds us, this is where Mary and Marc
I think a little bit, which is that
we all know you guys do too,
but we're gonna go with Mary and Marc
that it would be a mistake to sort of say,
just like use them as synonyms,
gender and identity is wholly synonymous
with like misogyny and racism, because that isn't the case.
It seems to me, but I wonder what you all think.
And I feel a little bit like sort of
that improvisational thing where it's like and so Mary and--
- I mean, and look I have this theory.
I was very good go older writers.
I used to think you should just take every man,
born before a certain date
and just put them on an Island with a bunch of people,
non-binary women whatever we have rubber chickens.
And when they say something dumb, you just whack on
because there's so much swine dog out there.
I mean if we're gonna talk about gender and identity
or about overt misogyny or whatever,
it exists in stories that are being written right now.
I mean, it's like, does this not exist?
And so, and I also always loved
that checkoff line that you make a work of art
in order to define a problem.
And I love Hemingway, I adore these books.
I read them when I was a kid.
And so that noise that such a mass
just an amazing stylist and a massive,
he took American idiom and the poetry of American idiom
which in European eyes would have been called crude
and made poetry of it.
So, I mean I don't think a lot of what his women characters
have profited from being more three-dimensional
and less adoring.
Yeah they are I mean, just artistically speaking
I'm not talking about politically,
just if they had things they wanted to do besides have him
mans plain stuff to them already,
or in the Spanish, Shamila the Spanish Civil War,
heal me from rape and by having sex with me
and "For Whom the Bell Tolls"
I mean, it's really, you have to actually look
at what's being said, it's shocking.
And somebody who's very involved in these issues.
So I think it's necessary.
I love that Marc and I were both talking
or he said that if he gave his students a highlighter
or to find over misogyny say, are, fill in the blank racism,
that they would be able to find it.
I'm asking Marc I don't know.
- Yeah I think my suggestion was that
if I gave a highlight to a student
and asked them to point out instances
of misogyny or racism and more particularly
you probably have more highlights than actual texts.
And some of the stories that's not to say
and I'm trying to sort of unpack
where we're going with this, but that's not to say that
Hemingway's this antiquated artifact
that's gotten dusty and has no use today.
This is why I'm excited to be a part of this conversation.
It's sort of gotten me
re-energized about all things, "Hemingway."
There's a tendency to forget that he started a lot of things
and he started a lot of the conversations
that we're having now vis-a-vis just
in terms of social politics
whether we're talking about gender identity
or whether we're talking about notions of race
he had these conversations
peculating already a 100 years ago,
which for me is amazing that doesn't dismiss
any of the other things that we've been talking about.
But I think it actually makes him much more interesting
and it makes him to sort of borrow
from his own sort of language.
It makes him real.
It makes them all the more real for us
because he's flawed just like we are a 100 years later
no matter how, what we think we are.
- You could you could swing a cat around
and a room full of writers.
And how many of us would pass the woke test?
I mean, I fail it I just not so many.
but I don't think I've also spent
I spent a lot of time in China
where they had a cultural revolution
and you talk to writers and artists and painters
who had their history kind of locked off
and how bereft they are.
So I think for me, teaching "Hemingway"
which I've done is these students have you read
Toni Morrison you're being influenced by Hemingway,
You might as well see some of the sources that concision
dialogue or core anybody who's easy packer, Rachel Cusk
any of these new, young writers I think of
their inflict you can see that Marc.
And it's just, if you want to be autonomous as
and I'm teaching graduate students who wanna be writers
if you want to be autonomous
in your artistic choices and right.
I mean, you wanna and how can you do that?
If you don't understand the pressure of the cannon
how can you be free of it in a way as an artist
the anxiety of influence is bloom talked about worryingly.
- That's funny it's interesting because I think
that's precisely why, I mean market.
And as I think that this is the challenge is
this sort of dance that we all do.
And I don't think it's a bad dance.
I think it's an absolutely essential dance
for understanding a lot about
the American character American letters
and where we're going and where we've been
is to be able to balance the sort of questions.
So that's why I said, I don't think
that we're talking about just misogyny when we say gender.
And I don't think we're talking about racism only
when we say identity in this context, because it's richer
and more complicated and more complex than that.
And that's, what's been really interesting about this series
is the way in which it wrestles with that
that being said, let's go to the video.
When would you set up this next clip?
- Yeah so we've chosen a clip from our second episode.
At this point in his life Hemingway is very, very famous.
He's already published a farewell to arms
and sound also advises on the great short stories.
And he's living in key West with his second wife Pauline
and he has an out sized personality
and does everything to the max.
I think that's basically
and we're just gonna show a short clip that
relates to the things we've been discussing.
- I believe that the terrible thing about alcohol
for writers is that it works at first, that it works great.
You're anxious, you're wound up at the end of the day.
You have no way to calm down.
You have a few pops and you feel better
- [Michael] Once on Bimini the wealthy yachtsman drunk
and belligerent called Hemingway a foamy and the fat slob
Hemingway justice drunk knocked in cold
words spread fast across the Island.
When anyone is tight here or fields dangerous
Hemingway told a friend, they asked me to fight
Hemingway let it be known that he would pay $250
to anyone who could stay with him for three rounds.
No one ever claimed the money.
- I think the masculinity
must have been so constricting.
He's drawn to all these big butch things.
He could hit somebody and they feel the punch or whatever.
It does seem a little weary.
- I think ordinary life was anathema to him.
It had to be a life of adventure
and that adventure was in loo if that's the right word
of a deep seated loneliness and depression
- [Man] He has become the legendary Hemingway.
He appears to have turned
into a composite of all those photographs
sunburned from snows on skis and fishing get up
burn dark from the hot Caribbean
the handsome stalwart hunter
crowd smiling over the carcass of some dead beast.
Such a man could not have written Hemingway's early books.
It is hard not to wonder whether he has not hunting
brought down an even greater victim, the new republic.
- So my favorite word is weary
I love very using weary for this
because I think that it really sort of taps into something
about I mean, it sort of showed up
in the conversation about Hemingway and celebrity
which is this sort of notion of like having to be a persona
to like have built a persona
and then have to kind of keep feeding it in some ways.
And then the sort of weird feedback loop
that he experienced with that
that served him and also didn't serve him in some ways.
But what I really love about weary
and that notion of persona is to sort of
shifting it a little bit.
And thank you, studies for helping us do this
which is to sort of talk about the performative
in terms of masculinity in terms of gender.
So that I thought was what,
one of the things I think is really amazing
about this moment.
So there's this sort of notion that
he has to kind of perform that.
And not only does he perform it
it's like America then sort of like also performs
that version of masculinity to some degree.
I wonder what you think of that, Mary
and then I have a slightly
different question for you, Marc which is
is there a similar thing in terms of like race performance
like the performative in terms of race?
I think there may be, but I'm curious of what you think so--
- Go ahead, Marc.
- All right let me see if I can unpack some of this.
Let me speak to the masculinity, the gender portion
just for a moment and say
when I hear conversations like that
I think of a couple of things, Mary, you use the term weary
and I'm glad that you sort of glommed onto that.
At least it must be tiring.
I've had conversations with people about this before, right?
The idea of always sort of having to put up
this front for the world, Hemingway like all celebrities
I think felt that to his last day,
as far as masculinity goes, though,
I would say suggest this.
I mean I'm sure it's some of these conversations previous
have talked about the idea of the cold hero.
He was always sort of aware of this in his writing
as well as his life the idea that he's a sportsman
that he's got the male bravado, sexual prowess,
the hard drink or all these things
that make him a manly man, along with all the things
that he writes about
the code here on necessarily
being an action oriented person,
he's a doer he's not a talker.
Think about how many times
you have a Hemingway character who says nothing.
And the narrative tells us expressly
that the character says nothing.
So it was always about the silences.
And what's not said that it's important with Hemingway
and that's why it's so fascinating for me.
The other thing I was gonna suggest though about that was
I hear this kind of language
always being surrounding comedians.
I hear conversations about certain
maybe members of the audience
or certain comedian saying so and so always seems to be on
the need to be on, have that for game face on
Hemingway was very much aware of that predicament you.
Another thing I would say, though,
that immediately came to mind about
just that portion of the question was
if you have not read to have, and have not
read it for that reason only
some would say it's a horrible book.
It was handled by most critics
but I would say the beginning of noir fiction
as we know it starts there.
And the number of times did he use the word Cajones
is is laughably ridiculous.
- It can be you tricking game.--
- People are aware of that absolutely.
To the point of clarity, I think he understood
that he was putting on a show always
to the race question absolutely I will simply say this.
Maybe there'll be time in the conversation afterwards
after this question,
but I went to a number of short stories,
something like the "Battler" which I've written about.
And I talk about, you can point out any number of places
where Hemingway expressly talks about characters
in terms of race as a marker,
walked like a Negro, Negro's voice, that kind of thing.
The entire African Safari documentation
you could suggest is at one grand performance.
And in that light
he's necessarily making himself into the great white hunter
And posturing all along the way
realizing that there's no audience
feeding on that kind of persona.
I don't know if that answers your question but I think--
- It certainly starts to, we're gonna return too
and you set up my setup for Lynn,
which is like I think we'll go to the next clips
so that we can just get even deeper into this as we go.
So, Lynn, yeah.
So the next clip we have is actually
as Marc just suggested Hemingway in Africa
but it's the second trip to Africa in the '30s.
He went to Africa with his first wife Pauline
and did exactly what Marc just described.
He went back with his fourth wife in the '50s
and we'll see that it's a very different experience.
And one of the themes that the film has been following
in addition to his posturing
as much as described is this relationship to androgyny
and gender role playing.
And that's something that's been
he's hinted at in his fiction.
And in private correspondence, his mother dressed him
and his older sister as twins, sometimes as boys
sometimes both as girls until he was five or six.
And there's amazing photographs of that.
And we've talked about that.
So this kind of fascination with the other gender
and what role to play speaking of the performance,
we've just been discussing.
We found really fascinating.
So here we are in Africa in the 1950s.
- [Michael] In the summer of 1953,
20 years after his first visit
Hemingway returned to East Africa with Mary
for a month they were the sole foreigners permitted
in the Southern Game Reserve 40 miles South of Nairobi.
- Kenya government had set him up on this.
They just had a major insurrection.
It was affecting tourism.
They wanted him to have a good time.
And boy was he having a good day?
- [Michael] Patrick now owned a farm in East Africa
and worked as a guide and hunter,
despite a Guerrilla Uprising against white colonial rule,
they hunted for a time
but Hemingway was drinking even more heavily than usual
shot poorly once fell from his Jeep.
He finally stopped shooting altogether,
driving out from camp instead each morning with Mary
just to see and photograph the animal.
He loved Africa, a member of his party remembered
he loved to sit in it and watch it.
He had natural knowledge of what animals do
and where they should be.
- Hemingway, I think was also really interested
in the people and who they actually were
a lot more interested than he was in the 30's
when he was just there really to hunt
and not paying attention to what was actually going on.
- When Hemingway comes back East Africa
and colonialism is literally under attack.
And he sees an Africa that is less tolerant
of some of the behavior that he exhibited early on.
It was wrong to call say
those grown men who were serving him boys
and not wanting to actively get to know them.
- [Michael] He now considered the Kenyan guides
and servants, friends, and brothers.
He wrote everyone had his duties and everyone had a name.
But when Mary went off to Nairobi
to do some Christmas shopping
he somehow persuaded himself that in her absence
he should join the Wakamba people and marry a young woman.
He shaved his head, dyed his clothes to imitate theirs
and tried hunting a warthog with a spear
despite his bizarre behavior in Africa,
he and Mary were as close as they had ever been.
- [Man] Mary is a Prince of devils
and almost any place you touch her
it can kill both you and her.
She has always wanted to be a boy and thinks as a boy,
without ever losing any femininity.
If you should become confused on this, you should retire.
She loves me to be her girls
which I love to be not being absolutely stupid
in return she makes me awards.
And at night we do every sort
of thing which pleases her in which pleases me.
I loved feeling the embrace of Mary,
which came to me as something quite new
and outside all tribal law.
On the night of December 19th, we worked out these things
and I have never been happier.
- So beautiful.
- It's good writing, so beautiful.-
- So beautiful Ken what you guys have wrought?
- That's Jeff Daniels, reading Ernest Hemingway.
It's Peter Coyote reading our Jeff Ward's narration.
It's Meryl Streep, Martha Gellhorn and Sarah.
I mean Mary Louise Parker and Carrie Russell
and Patricia Clarkson reading other voices.
When you have actors like that
then all of a sudden you have people inhabiting the words
and the nuances of this
we'd worked with a really good scratch
Hemingway for a long time
but Jeff delivered the meaning and know better than that
particular quote about that letter.
That is so transcended
I mean we are caught in the binary all the time
and what's so interesting is that
at times he's really slipped that away
despite all the other places that he's so infuriating.
- Yeah what I think is extraordinary sister tenderness
of that we're all responding to
because the language is really beautiful.
It's so unexpected, so deeply touching
and regulatory and it's intimacy.
And, but the clip also has like these vaccine moments
and sort of exhausting moments of like
sort of the racial prerogatives.
And yes, I understand that.
Well, it was better than it was when they went before
but there's still some fairly interesting
sort of challenges.
So I saw that there was a question
from a young lady in Ohio who's
and Marc I'm just gonna throw this at you for the moment
that's in Ohio and his reading "For Whom the Bell Tolls."
And I know that you teach Hemingway and race.
And one of the things I thought was really extraordinary.
You had done a podcast
when sort of on the occasion of Toni Morrison passing
and where we talked about race in "Hemingway."
And one of the things that you said that really struck me
among a number of things that you said was that
you sort of have to build your students' tolerance
to some degree.
And I think that we would be making a mistake
if we all assume,
'cause a number of us are sort of around the same age.
And I think there's a certain kind
of tolerance that we have for
'cause it's already been built in to some degree
for us to sort of go, but whatever,
and sort of be able to do those balancing things.
But I think that you all must be seen as teachers
and you Marc trying to teach this stuff,
that there is a way in which
you should be introduced to some of the work.
And I think that's an interesting moment.
So she was asking about, and let me say who she is
as opposed to just like, because
it's Annalise and she's from Ohio
and she's reading "For Whom the Bell Tolls"
And she was wondering if you could talk more
about race and the role of women in that book.
So maybe both of you could sort of talk about that
because I think the challenge to some degree is that
re-introduction for a new generation
that is not necessarily on board for being,
thoughtful about even the vulnerabilities
of someone that like Hemingway, who wasn't extra.
I mean, I would want them to be compassionate
but I don't think that people are necessarily
when they're young, always ready to be compassionate.
- Am taking this. - Guess you are.
- I want to know Marc how you build up their tolerance,
because I have a hard time I usually do it later.
I would do it later in a semester.
So I am looking for help here.
- You guys are on the front line
- Thank you I guess, let me suggest this.
I mean, where I always like to start with any conversation
about "Hemingway," especially for the uninitiated
and Linda and I have had plenty of conversations about this,
even on the day of taping, a lot of conversations
in which I couched everything
in the language of the classroom.
I start with underscoring,
just how much of a historian Hemingway was,
how much of an avid reader he was
and how deliberate he is and everything that he does.
So within the bounds of race,
I will go right along with my students
and suggest how easy it is to point out the epithets.
I wanna come back to something like to have and have nots
where he's just an equal opportunity offender.
He offends the Asians, he offends Latinex people.
He offends African-Americans equal opportunity offender.
But if we start with the supposition
that he's doing it for a reason,
I think that students are a little more forgiving.
And if we understand that he's not coming
from a space of ignorance,
then I think that readers are maybe more to understand
that there's something more going on here.
So within the framework of something like
"For Whom the Bell Tolls," the big question is
should there be an allowance for an artist
to sort of inhabit the space of another,
which is what he's doing there
and he's doing it in so many other works--
- And habits there's an interior life to these women.
And it's often, again, almost
just feels like he didn't ever talk to any.
I know he must've talked to some of them
or and I know he talked to her so--
- In that particular book
you could point to a handful of really strong women
pillars that were very strong woman
- The woman, a Pablo--
- Right absolutely.
- But she has the same kind of hypertrophied masculinity.
It seemed to me she's walking around with a hatchet
or something and everybody's kind of scared of her.
And I mean, she's like rabid leftist, who's in the fight,
till the last breath in her body
and then by contrast, you have this girl,
he calls her a girl he's sleeping with
so many calls rabbit.
And just the description of her
is I'm a sexual assault survivor,
as somewhat as that description of her assault,
where she's fighting the entire time and just beating know
they have to tie her mouth and they have to bind her.
And any woman would be beaten almost to death
in that with a gang of men,
with a gang of people in that circumstance.
I mean, just descriptions of that kind of thing.
And her asking him to make love to her to take that away.
But also his kind of, he said I love me.
And that sort of sweet formal Spanish pronoun deal.
But she said there was a flatness to his face
when he saw it and I still love that book.
I love that book it's beautifully written--
- It's all about context, right?
It's all about context and in the case of that novel.
Yeah, absolutely and then that's where you have to start.
I mean, I have to remind my students that
this is a 100 years old
if we're talking about something
that was published in the '20s
like the sun also rises where again
you can make the case of Lady Brett Ashley
being a strong character and she is,
but if you wanted to flip the script
and suggest that she's tragic from the beginning
I would say full stop all of the characters are tragic.
So if you take a look--
- Absolutely ell, yeah, absolutely.
- What's so great about the documentary is
the pathos that you guys get at somebody
who that thing of performing masculinity
and just the relentlessness
and how a bad his writing was going
and making fun of Fitzgerald's sexual proclivities
in the memoir "Moveable Feast"
there he seemed to have some real self-awareness
of how he was a dick--
- If I jump in and say I think that's sort of
what he writes about a lot at the time.
- Is men being just that thing you're saying
and he clearly seems to reveal
some kind of self-awareness of themselves, his friends,
the New Year the period of time like Marc is saying
that this is I think at one point
he was called an unliterary transcriber of life.
One of the reviews said of in our time
and clearly it's not that simple.
You don't just transcribe what you see.
It's a lot more complicated, but he is reflecting
some of the ugliness that we see men
and women relating to each other.
And if we don't like that
it doesn't seem right to blame him for that.
That's he's putting it in front of us, right.
Because it's hard to look at.
And that's what I find also so interesting.
The world he grew up in and his parents being horrified
by the topics he chose, they didn't want him
to write about divorce, sexual assault, abortion,
they were horrified venereal disease, right?
So he's pushing--
- They were real Puritans
- The thing is if that connects Marc
and what Lynn said is that he is aware of this.
He is invoking these things
that can be infuriating out of context,
but he's aware of it he's a student of life.
And so you see these things.
So you've got a wonder in up in Michigan or Hills,
like white elephants.
Is that him literally raping on a first date
is that him pushing an abortion on somebody
or all of these things are so familiar
and he's willing to expose them at a time in Gertrude Stein.
Who's no slouch is saying, this is obscene up in Michigan
and this should not be published.
And as you know, better than me that this up in Michigan
is not in the second edition of in our time
because of this scene on up in Michigan.
But I just wanna say, even as I'm saying,
there's racism there, sexism it's ubiquitous.
He had a particularly good case of it that's all I'm saying.
And so but I also yeah, I'm sorry, Lisa.
- Go ahead Marc.
- I was just gonna say, let me just
I would qualify all of that by saying
I agree with everything you just said, Mary
but I always also would just underscore
which I'm glad the through line of this whole narrative
the six hour grandiose narrative is
the complication of the man
because while he's doing all of these things
committing all of these sins
I think that there is a someone,
I think Mary you suggested there's a pathos.
There was a pathos to the narrative
into the storytelling almost each and every case
that we're giving here.
And so I'll quickly say,
something that we could have spent even more time
is a conversation engaging his notions and engagements
and notions of and engagements with native Americans.
If you take a look at all of the stories
in which those are featured players
there's a pathos there that speaks to a national tragedy.
I would make a case for it.
- so it's complicated.
- Very important.
- Yeah you know what Mark we have in our editing room
a little cursive neon sign that says it's complicated.
That this is what,
since the very, very beginning for 40 years,
we have just tried to resist the temptation
to have the easy and Fazil layup
in favor of complicating,
all of it without perhaps explanation or resolution.
And because that's what it all is.
And the greatness of "Hemingway" is how much is unspoken
how much in this spare pros that we like to elicit
is actually not about that
it's back to the music his mother gave him
it's the intervals it's not the notes.
It's, what's not, it's the space between the notes
that makes the music.
And it's the art that is between the words
that is so spectacular.
But also, as I said, at the beginning, it's subversive
and it's confounding and it's infuriating
all at the same time.
And there's no way that that can be packaged
in a way that will be satisfying to somebody
that needs the simple moralistic one thing or the other.
- Oh, I think you guys did a great job.
I mean, I don't think you could,
when you say there's no way it can be packaged.
I think you guys, I disagree I think--
- We're contained pretty wild animals, right?
- And you are indeed.
Yeah, no, I mean, I think what's amazing is that
there was this sort of assumption
at the beginning of the intro, this notion of like
it's just humanist, it's just universal.
And I think that one of the things I love
and that's why I said it was a bait and switch
is I actually think this wrestles and says that
you have to actually go through that
readers have to go through it,
watchers have to go through it.
We will have to wrestle this beast
in order to understand the value of "Hemingway"
at this moment and to sort of can continue to navigate
and negotiate that.
And I think that Marc and Mary have said that really well
but I also think the thing that speaks most eloquently
to that is the six hours of the documentary.
We have a bunch of questions
that I wanna get a couple of in if we can
but before we do just final words
from the filmmakers about--
- Let's leave all the space--
- Let those people speak it good all right.
This is one of the questions is just like,
what did Hemingway read, what influenced him?
And I think that you'll, I mean,
because I think that that's interesting,
it's like, were there people
that you felt like influenced him
that might be surprises in that?
And neither of you just chime in.
- I will simply say
if you wanna get a sense of what he was reading
if your would be scholar, take a look at
and this is another North Carolina state connection here
because he was there while I was a master's student
read Michael Reynolds biography set a massive biography
but also take a look at the catalog of Hemingway's readings
those things that were on his shelf at the Finca.
And that'll give you some sense
of all the things that he was into
a very varied and a wide breath I would say.
I would just say it's quite astonishing
I guess maybe it shouldn't be, he didn't go to college.
So he's completely self-taught.
So there's no professor telling him much already.
He's deciding what to read them
is quite a tribalist.
- Is real forger.
I mean, I guess the question then would be
Marc and you may know this and Lynn
Ken you may know as well.
It's just like, are there women on that list?
Are there any people of color on it?
Are there any black men on that list?
I would say probably given America at that moment.
- Yes but the list is sparse, as you would imagine it to be.
- Poetry when you've written an awful lot of poetry
and he was Prince for those for pound.
I always think of them as posing as kind
of American primitives--
- Yeah, exactly kind of gestures and pools
and having boxing matches and duals
Pam was scheduling people to duals
and what it was the cat's it was Paris in the truck.
- Yeah and who needs a professor if you've got that.
- And Cezanne and Stravinsky
and Zetty and Joyce and you know
what do you want to you're missing, where's your syllabus.
I don't know I lost it.
- So Mary, someone had asked, just so
because you had mentioned in the clip his drinking
and that sort of need it's like
how do you think his drinking attack
affected his identity as a writer,
especially later in his life and his decline?
- No, I think it's any drug you depend on for your writing,
it eventually destroys your talent.
And I think certainly he had some accident that,
he might've had a neurological event
he suffered from depression, alcohol's a depressant drug.
It doesn't help your mood that's a problem.
It does it first and then you're dependent on it
but it's making things worse
and they used it for anesthesia.
So you're also kind of blunted in a way
and kind of blocked in yourself.
So I traveled to his house and and I knew Patrick
and I saw the that room where he killed himself
and it's having to perform at that level
of knowing everything.
I mean, all those characters they know everything.
They never say I don't know.
- Wonderful this is for Lynn and for Ken.
I just think that you've spent an awful lot of time
thinking about this gentleman and then researching him
and asking the other people lots of questions.
And I wonder sort of what surprised you most,
or just has resonated most deeply with you about "Hemingway"
the man and the writer and his relationship
to the culture at large any of those things,
what sort of stays with you that feels different
than when you went into this?
- Oh, I don't I think it rearranged
all our molecules about them.
It's so hard to remember exactly what it was.
I think being able to strip away
a few of these sort of mask layers
to get at some of these confusing things.
There's so many, the tragedy is extremely painful
still to relive again and again, and again
all of the governors on his engine, the governor of alcohol
the mental illness, the toxic masculinity, or the lies,
all of that stuff becomes Shakespearian
in the way it kind of accumulates and then ends
is so perfectly balanced with how the thing begins.
But to me, it's the way in which
just the way we all came out of that last clip
in a kind of reverie for the ability of someone
despite the mountains
or the all the balls and chains that he carried around
to have written something like that.
- That was so perfectly written
so simple and basic and so generous.
And so to me I keep the short stories by my bed
and you don't need heroin if you've got,
Hills like white elephants, you don't need booze.
If you've got this snow of Kilimanjaro
you don't need anything cause you, there he is.
And to me, it's just the way he's endured.
It's what Mary his fourth wife who suffers the most
is reading the freshly typed manuscript
for old man in the sea and she said,
Ernest I forgive you for all the rotten things,
and you just suddenly realized,
there is this point it's Marc's context in a perverted way
where it is transcendent.
- Right Lynn.
- Wow I mean, I guess, just to piggyback
on what Ken said so beautifully is,
sort of a rediscovery of his work
and affirmation of his influence,
which I kind of knew intuitively
but I didn't fully understand
and speaking to so many writers from around the world
and reading so much about his influence
and sort of how his rearranging of the furniture
like Tobias Wolff set is coming down through the generations
has been really beautiful to see.
And, just for a small example,
sitting down with that know Brian and hearing her
praise Hemingway and stick it out, his influence on her.
And some of the things she said
we didn't really have them tricks all the details of that.
But I recently read her first novel
and there are passages in there that sound like
they're taking from inspired by a farewell to arms
descriptions of the landscape and I'm moving through it.
And I would never have known, I would never have seen that.
And just thinking about the way that he chose
to describe things and the things the way he used words
how that's just part of all
is a really profound gift of this project.
- The physical world is a character in that work--
- Yes that is so important Mary, I think that's great.
And we bypass it because we get right to the animals
he's shot in it, or the fishy hooked in it
and got eaten by sharks.
But this is an enormous observer of the natural world.
I mean, look at, Ralph Ellison is saying,
look we all wanted to be writers.
We wanted to be like, Hemingway, we love this stuff
but I've been hunting since I'm 11.
And I finally, he taught me how to lead a bird.
Right now maybe the ultimate purpose is to shoot the bird.
But when he talks about
in "Big Two-Hearted River" about the trout catches him.
- It's the other end of the line.
Like who's bate, it's some amazing stuff
- I grew up planting and you do pay attention.
- Yeah if I can dovetail a couple of comments
with those comments, I would suggest that
I'm glad Ken you brought up "Big Two-Hearted River"
I looked at a couple of the in previous episodes.
And I recognize myself in some of the comments
that were made about not loving Hemingway
the first time around being too young, not ready for him.
I wouldn't have been ready for "Big Two-Hearted River"
where I 16 even say 22 in college
that's work I came to for the first time,
I think in grad school.
And over the years, I've really grown to appreciate it
for the reasons you enumerate it's process oriented.
It's about the natural world
where you see reverence instead of destruction.
And also it's about I don't know which one of you said it
but it's also about the concrete things that matter
in a world that's quickly changing
and dissipating and being destroyed.
"Hemingway's" all always going to those constants
those things that will be there in nature is always there.
And that there's something reassuring
and reaffirming about that and beautiful I think
Lynn, our film on Vietnam interviewed a woman
named Layman Qay who was a young teenage girl,
went down the Ho Chi Minh
as part of a grade dangerous work, repairing the damage done
by American planes on the whole team and trail.
And she took with her
"For Whom the Bell Tolls" and said she survived.
She survived because of what Hemingway taught her
and that's and who's flying up above
but John McCain who thinks he's Robert Jordan
and any key if you really wanna know the Rosetta Stone
to an excludable complicated infuriating politician
like John McCain, it's Robert Jordan.
And he just says it flat out that's who I am from age 14.
That's pretty amazing.
And his opponent in the presidential election
is also talking about Robert Jordan.
- He also, well, he taught stoicism
and stoicism is a very functional, great philosophy.
If you're a perfect soldier,
that thing that's in those stories
and is complicated gender stuff
well, I'm gonna shut up now.
- That's a great point yeah.
- Can I say one more thing?
I don't know how we're running on time
- We are close to running out of time, but absolutely.
Until I get a hook I'm like Oh.
- There's so many great points
of entry for cover station here.
Several times we've heard the conversation.
So during the conversation
somebody has alluded to, it's a Tobia Wolff's great quote
about having Hemingway rearranging the furniture
that made me immediately think of an interview that I saw
from a few years back in which Ernest Gaines talks
about the process of writing, where he learned too.
And it's sort of domain
of where we're going with this conversation tonight as well.
Because one of the things he says is
he uses the same metaphor but he uses it differently.
He says that Hemingway actually
and a few others checkoff gave him the ability
to build the structure of the house.
And it was his job to put furniture on the inside.
And I just think it's a great metaphor.
And also, I think just
in league with our conversation tonight
if Gaines is willing to forgive Hemingway for his foibles
and sins then, and Ellison is, and Gail Jones
and others who have looked to him for some kind of guidance
then maybe we ought to give them a shot as well.
- Well, great artist
- And a key, if you're writing in English,
you're being influenced by him.
You can like it or not like doesn't matter, right?
He's got his hand on your pen
- You kill the ghost or embrace it as Abraham said.
- Well, there's definitely some sense that
the series forces us to expand and embrace.
I mean, you just, aren't allowed
to sort of shut things down
and have a simple easy answer for the man,
the moment, our moment, his moment.
I think that that is, what's really interesting.
I remember Marc says complicated there's also a complex.
It's like, it's all that, he's all that.
And it's absolutely vital and in a place.
And it really is about us becoming smarter thinkers
smarter readers, smarter citizens, ultimately to like
sort of embrace into the wrestle with this stuff.
So I did get the hook a little bit.
And so I wanted to thank all of you
for this real, I don't know.
Thank you it was great for me to be in your company.
I also want to thank our host WNAT
and the Center for Fiction for being so generous
and allowing for this platform.
It's great reminder that
this is actually something you can see
starting April 5th through sixth and seventh,
and on your local PBS station, "Hemingway."
And you can go to for more information.
And also I think that
there's some more of these conversations
that are gonna be happening.
You can go to pbs.org/hemingway,
and if you're interested in reading,
I don't know how you couldn't be,
because I really do feel that's what happens
having these conversations,
but also watching that series
is that you return to that man's writing
because it is that astonishing often
and difficult, but also incredibly beautiful.
And if you're hankering for a book
then our firstname.lastname@example.org, have you covered,
so dis at them.
Thank you again, everybody for--
- Thank you. - Thank you, Lisa.
- Thank Marc
- Thank you everybody. - Thank you everybody.
- Thank you. - Wonderful.