An interesting colloquy about the above subjects is taking place on Facebook among Karen Malpede, Joshua Ruebl, Ian Thal, and myself, and in one response I make a few points that should really be scribbled in my notebook:
Whether I like or dislike Hemingway, he’s in a long tradition of American vernacular “plain speech” that dates back to 17th century Puritan polemics and so quite in the American tradition. In this, actually, he’s very much a colleague of Gertrude Stein’s, whose language might seem similarly “impoverished” to a reader who prefers a more complex linguistic style and vocabulary.
As to the question of violence, I don’t think we know enough about Shakespeare to determine whether or not he glorifies or doesn’t glorify violence in any of his plays; we can’t read a character’s patriotic rhetoric as Shakespeare’s own opinion, even in Henry V; critics have been arguing about it for years, which suggests there’s no definitive answer to be had. Now directors can no doubt glorify the violence they find in these plays, from Titus Andronicus and Richard III to King Lear; but I don’t believe we can firmly say that Shakespeare does so.
I must say I don’t necessarily agree with Karen’s definition of what makes an artist an artist. Moral stances are iffy things; political violence can serve either the left or the right. Is revolutionary violence such as we’re seeing in the Middle East and Ukraine, for example, justifiable? — and certainly it is glorified via political rhetoric by many revolutionaries, though not all.
Speaking up for peace and justice is a fine thing — but whose peace, whose justice? Appeals to abstractions like these always mask an ideological dogma.
Anyway, this post from the other day seems relevant.
To make a contribution you can follow us as Facebook “friends,” though I’d prefer the more open, less exclusionary option of adding your comments to this post.