Monday, February 25, 2008

James Joyce and Ernest Hemingway: Who Helped them?

James Joyce and Ernest Hemingway:
Who helped them?

It has always interested me (perhaps because of my background in psychology), how men and women are made, from the days of youth, to the days of just prior to death. It is never because one man stood alone against all the odds in the world. It is because he took opportunity when it came by. He saw it, grabbed it, and thus, waited, or polished, or whatever it took he or she did, to make it to the next step, and so I just wanted to take a quick view of two famous writers, whom would not have been famous had they not done what I just said, or so I believe, and been at in the right place at the right time (and I think I can say, they went to the right place, hoping to find what they did find, as I did in 1968, when I went to San Francisco, against many odds, and wrote a book about it, called, “Romancing San Francisco”.

What made these two people I will bring to light in a moment, good writers? Somewhere, along the line, everyone gets a little help. James Joyce was a very bad writer, I have a few of his First Edition poem books, he wrote a few of them, they are not all that great either. But why was his book, number one throughout the 1930s, if he was not so hot? Some people have good skills and imagination, others have one or the other, and seldom do they have both. Joyce had a good imagination, but stunk on skills, if it wasn’t for Ezra Pound, James Joyce would never have made the grade. Ulysses, was gone over by Mr. Pound, and Joyce took all the information he was willing to give to heart, made his changes as needed: Joyce was not dumb, just not skilled, and thus he produced a best seller, he learned on the job; and the Dubliners, well, he kept what he learned and life went on.
As for Hemingway, he had help on three sides or four. One, it was F. Scott Fitzgerald who got the publishers to look at his stuff. Second, it was Shakespeare And Company that became his second home, and where he got his books to read, and study free. Third, he got Ezra Pound to take him under his wing, and teach him the art, as did Anderson take Hemingway under his wing, and introduced him to his publishers as well, and Stein, she introduced him to the writers and artist, and poets of Paris; in addition, he came from a pretty well off family, other than that, he was a reporter with a rough way of writing, that would not have sold a book, had he not taken advantage of what came his way. And yes, in time he turned out to be a fairly good writer, too much dialogue for me, yet I have most, if not all his books, first editions, so nonetheless, he was a good writer (some psychological problems in the head, but most writers got them, he just could not control them).

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