Ernest Hemingway and me

One of the many attractive features of Librarything is that you can compare your own library with the libraries of famous dead people, including the likes of Thomas Jefferson and Mary Queen of Scots. I score best in comparison with Ernest Hemingway, with whose bookshelves I have the following in common:

Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen
Pride and prejudice by Jane Austen
The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis
The consolation of philosophy by Boethius
The life of Samuel Johnson by James Boswell
The Martian chronicles by Ray Bradbury
The golden apples of the sun by Ray Bradbury
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
The flowering of New England, 1815-1865 by Van Wyck Brooks
Alice’s adventures in Wonderland and through the looking glass by Lewis Carroll
Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
The riddle of the sands by Erskine Childers
The moonstone by Wilkie Collins
Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi
Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad
The red badge of courage by Stephen Crane (Hemingway: "Tolstoi made the writing of Stephen Crane on the Civil War seem like the brilliant imagining of a sick boy who had never seen war but had only read the battles and chronicles and seen the Brady photographs that I had read and seen at my grandparents’ house." I rather agree.)
The inferno by Dante Alighieri
Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
Great expectations by Charles Dickens
A tale of two cities by Charles Dickens
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
Crime & punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
The brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
Twenty years after by Alexandre Dumas
Bitter lemons by Lawrence Durrell
Esprit de corps by Lawrence Durrell
Murder in the cathedral by T. S. Eliot
As I lay dying by William Faulkner
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (Hemingway: "Floubert is a great writer but he only wrote one great book– Bovary– one 1/2 great book L’Education, one damned lousy book Bouvard et Pecuchet.")
Lord of the flies by William Golding
The scarlet letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Notre-Dame de Paris by Victor Hugo
Main street by Sinclair Lewis (Hemingway: "Buddenbrooks is a pretty damned good book. If he were a great writer it would be swell. When you think a book like that was published in 1902 and unknown in English until last year it makes you have even less respect, if you ever had any, for people getting stirred up over Main Street, Babbit and all the books your boy friend Menken [H.L. Mencken] has gotten excited about just because they happen to deal with the much abused Am. Scene.")
Eastern approaches by Fitzroy Maclean
Moby Dick by Herman Melville (Hemingway: “… we have had, in America, skillful writers… It is skillful, marvelously constructed, and it is dead. We have had writers of rhetoric who had the good fortune to find a little, in a chronicle of another man and from voyaging, of how things, actual things, can be, whales for instance, and this knowledge is wrapped in the rhetoric like plums in a pudding. Occasionally it is there, alone unwrapped in pudding, and it is good. This is Melville. But the people who praise it, praise it for the rhetoric which is not important. They put a mystery in which is not there…”)
The seven storey mountain by Thomas Merton
When we were very young by A. A. Milne
Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Apologia pro vita sua by John Henry Newman
Nineteen eighty-four by George Orwell
Swann’s way by Marcel Proust
Within a Budding Grove by Marcel Proust
The Guermantes way by Marcel Proust
Cities of the plain by Marcel Proust
[The Captive appears to be missing, though he also had a complete set in two volumes.]
The sweet cheat gone by Marcel Proust
The catcher in the rye by J. D. Salinger
Memoirs of a fox-hunting man by Siegfried Sassoon
The complete dramatic and poetic works of William Shakespeare
The real Charlotte by E. ΠSomerville
Starling of the White House by Edmund W. Starling
The grapes of wrath by John Steinbeck
The elements of style by William Strunk
Vanity fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
War and peace by Leo Tolstoy (Hemingway: “I’ve been reading all the time down here. Turgenieff to me is the greatest writer there ever was. Didn’t write the greatest books, but was the greatest write. That’s only for me of course. Did you ever read short story of his called The Rattle of Wheels? It’s in the 2nd vol. of A Sportsman’s Sketches. War and Peace is the best book I know but imagine what a book it would have been if Turgenieff had written it. Chekov wrote about 6 good stories. But he was an amateur writer. Tolstoi was a prophet. Maupassant was a professional writer, Balzac was a professional writer, Turgenieff was an artist.” – "…Books should be about the people you know, that you know, that you love and hate, not about the poeple you study up about… Then when you have more time read another book called War and Peace by Tolstoi and see how you will have to skip the big Political Thought passages, that he undoubtedly thought were the best things in the book when he wrote it, because they are no longer either true or important, if they ever were more than topical, and see how true and lasting and important the people and the action are. Do not let them deceive you about what a book should be because of what is in the fashion now." – see also his note on The Red Badge of Courage.)
Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope
The adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
Put out more flags by Evelyn Waugh
The once and future king by T. H. White
The master by T. H. White
William Heinemann, a memoir by Frederic Whyte
To the lighthouse by Virginia Woolf

A lot of these aren’t very surprising; you would expect Hemingway to be well grounded in the classics. But it’s rather charming to find him also a fan of Ray Bradbury, and also to find some more obscure books that we had in common.

I don’t think (embarrassingly) I’ve ever read a single word of Hemingway, but he features in one of my imminent self-imposed writing assignments, so perhaps I had better start.

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