Russell Banks, Ernest Hemingway and Masculinity in America
Travel Blog • Jim Benning • 02.24.12 | 12:33 PM ET
The New York Review of Books explores Russell Banks’ novels and touches on Ernest Hemingway’s legacy in American letters.
When it comes to the anxiety of influence, American women writers seem to have an easy relation to their gentler and more urbane literary ancestresses; but men writing in America have to contend with the shade of Hemingway, and the longstanding tradition of manliness he tried to represent. They may reject that tradition but they can’t ignore it, though Henry James may have been trying to by making himself into an Englishman. Most of the ongoing mining of Ernest Hemingway’s character, sexuality, and personal history arises from our sense that he embodied the paradoxes and conflicts in masculinity as Americans have constructed it. Was he a bully or a baby, brave or cowardly, gay or straight, tough or weak?
That “shade of Hemingway” has colored American travel writing as much as any other genre, of course. The article is available online but only subscribers can read the piece in its entirety.