Re: RARA-AVIS: Hammett and... Henry James

From: Brian Thornton (
Date: 26 Nov 2007

In his inimitable fashion, Patrick King wrote:

>Winning the argument isn't worth reorganizing my day to play fetch for you, Brian.

Ah. Couldn't find anything to buttress your point, huh? Yeah, that can be tough, when you extend yourself out there and make a pretty wild statement in support of an otherwise reasonable assertion, and then someone calls you on it. Like Moynihan said, "Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts."

See, you call it "playing fetch," and I see it as being willing to back up your stated opinion with facts.

By the way, I never said that I didn't think that Hemingway read and liked Hammett's stuff. I said that I didn't really see how Hammett had influenced his work, as I clearly could see how the sources I cited previously had. Which leads us to...

>Why don't you come up with the quote where Hemingway says, "Hammett, never read any of that crap! He had no influence on me at all." When you find that >then I'll be wrong.

Well, again, you're entitled to your opinion, but... And when someone is incorrect (as it seems here that you were in your initial statement), they're no more or less "wrong" whether or not someone calls them on it. Objectively, they're wrong, regardless.

Then you wrote:

>Well both Nick Charles and Scott Fitzgeral wore suits and traveled about staying in the best hotels and drinking a lot.

According to that rubric, Nick Charles bears an equally uncanny resemblance to John Dos Passos, Ezra Pound, Somerset Maugham, and half the British ruling class of the period. A bit broad, don't you think?

>I never heard that Fitzgerald wore a loin cloth and killed four armed green men with swords. You'll have to fill us in on that part of his bio.

Youe use of reductio ad absurdium notwithstanding, my point stands: Nick Charles (and not, as you make it out to be, Fitzgerald) bears no more resemblance to F. Scott Fitzgerald than he does John Carter of Mars.

You also wrote:

> I have no doubt that Hemingway read both Twain and Crane.

Good. We agree.

> As to either of them being from some "realistic" school of writing, Crane is noted for making RED BADGE OF COURAGE up entirely from his imagination.

Not "entirely." He WAS a war correspondent in Cuba, you know. Still, even conceding your point, you make mine about the difference between literary realism and reality. You yourself make the point later about all of those Civil War veterans who claimed to have served with Crane in the war after reading THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE. So why are you arguing with yourself on this point? You just described one aspect of the "Realist school" in nearly the next breath after claiming that Crane had no place in it.


>Actually, Ray Bradbury wrote THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES.

Yes, and the set of Burroughs' works that I read as a kid have blazoned across the cover: "THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES OF EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS."

And here's the end of the whole thing:

>I'm not trying to convince anyone of anything.

Then why are you so forceful in your statements and so frequently unpleasant in your responses? Needlessly so, I might add. This is a most collegial list. I invite you to give it a try, and that's not hyperbole.

>I'm offering you the benefit of my extensive reading.

While it's clear that you're extremely well-read, that's really only half the equation here. Why not dial it back a bit? After all, you make it tough to enjoy your posts and accept your ideas when you are so frequently acid-tongued in the presentation of same.

> Any college course in 20th Century American literature will tell you Hemingway is listed with the romantic writers.

See, this is part of what I'm talking about. This statement assumes a couple of things: first, that there is an absolute criterion by which all literature is judged, and second, that I haven't taken such a college course. Well, I have. And the one I took in 1991 at Gonzaga University is a college course that pokes a hole in the above statement. According to the prof that taught it, Hemingway was a member of the "realist" school of ficition.

And as much as I hate to cede the field in this discussion, it's clear that no good can come from continuing down this road with you, because you're really no fun to talk to, and I get so busy dodging your snideness and misrepresentation of what I did and did not say, that I don't really get much chance to do anything else with my responses.

My apologies to the moderators if I've crossed any line here, and if I need to spend time on the moderated poster list as a result of that, I accept that decision without complaint. I assure you that I won't be commenting on any of Mr. King's posts in the future.

All the Best-

Brian Thornton

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