Monday, February 26, 2007

HEMINGWAY ON CONRAD AND TORONTO

I recently read Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness for the first time, having missed it in high school through the vagaries of scheduling. Heart of Darkness was absolutely fantastic (but more on that later, or not).

Having finished the text I began reading some the accompanying commentaries. The one by Hemingway, written at the time of Conrad's death, is pithy, yet it venerates Conrad and disparages other people and places the way few but Hemingway could:

"It is agreed by most of the people I know that Conrad is a bad writer; just as it is agreed that T.S. Eliot is a good writer. If I knew that by grinding Mr. Eliot into a fine dry powder and sprinkling that powder over Mr. Conrad's grave Mr. Conrad would shortly appear, looking very annoyed at the forced return, and commence writing I would leave for London early tomorrow morning with a sausage grinder..."
"Knowing that I could not re-read them [Conrad's books] I saved up four that I would not read until I needed them badly, when the disgust with writing, writers and everything written of and to write would be too much. Two months in Toronto used up the four books."
From: Ernest Hemingway, "Conrad, Optimist and Moralist," Transatlantic Review, Oct. 1924, reprinted in, Conrad, Heart of Darkness (1902), Random House: New York, 1999, xxxviii.

Posted by Matthew @ 12:08 PM