Friday, July 01, 2016

Who’s Afraid of Ernest Hemingway?


We’re asking ourselves that question as we look for diverse replies to NEW POP LIT’s current Big Lit Question:

“What’s your opinion of Ernest Hemingway circa 2016? Is he still relevant?”

Hemingway is the white whale of white male writers. Of dead white males, period. Aggressively macho; hunter; gun nut. Patriarchal, sexist, racist, misogynist, homophobic, etc. etc.; all the current politically correct designations readily apply. Ernest Hemingway embodies everything the academy hates.

Yet when it comes to getting a frank comment on the Hem from a feminist perspective, it’s not easily come by. The editors of NEW POP LIT have sent out requests for answers to our question, one word to 150, to a score of leading feminist writers. To date we’ve heard nary a peep.

We HAVE received excellent answers to our question. None, however, from a full-blown anti-Hemingway viewpoint. While we’re big Hemingway fans—we love his attitude and his writing—we also seek true diversity of ideas. So we ask again: Where are the feminist writers?


Two dynamics may be at play.

1.) After the many revisionist biographies and critical essays, the embarrassing posthumous “books” of wastebasket writings, academics may feel that Hemingway has been properly tamed. After all, he was actually and secretly gay and feminist himself—wasn’t he?

2.) More likely, the god of political correctness has bumped against the built-in institutional intellectual inertia of the intelligentsia. Once designated a great writer, always a great writer. In the pantheon. Beyond criticism. (I have no desire to throw rocks at this particular iconic statue myself—but come on, people! Will anybody? How timid ARE the nation’s approved literary writers, anyway?)

A related question: Could a young Hemingway with the Hemingway mindset be published today?


Send your Answers to our Big Lit Question to They’ll be posted at a NEW POP LIT blog in three weeks!


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