Some Comments on the Impressiveness of a Certain Photograph of Ernest Hemingway

I posted this photograph of Ernest Hemingway yesterday in a series of photos of authors’ typewriters

It seems to me that this photo expresses a minimum of five kinds of awesomeness upon which I must remark. Now, before you gripe about Hemingway being an author more famous at this point for his image than his actual work, get over it. In fact, I’ve already been there and gotten over it. On to the awesomeness–

1. The sky. Look at that sky. And those mountains. (Or are they just hills? I’m from Florida. They look like mountains). Let the sky stand for context. It’s 1939 and Hemingway is writing For Whom the Bell Tolls in Sun Valley, Idaho. How could he write under that sky? How could he not write?

2. That mustache. The authority therein. Handsome but grim. Fierce but refined. I want my own mustache like that.

3. The vest. Oh my god, that vest. The fringe. You can almost smell it. Like he’s a boy, playing cowboys and Indians.

4. The glass. Hemingway, I think, is not drinking water here. I think he is drinking something else. It could be anything (not water), but I think he’s drinking scotch. I’m going to pretend he’s drinking bourbon, but I don’t think it’s bourbon.

5. That expression. If Hemingway is merely posing for a photographer (entirely plausible, highly likely in fact), the pose is nevertheless at the same time utterly real. Is he scrutinizing the words? Squinting in the sun? Is it the booze that has puckered his eyes thusly? That brow, only slightly furrowed (only brows furrow); the arch of his hair, slick but not oily, thrusting back with a calm energy. The slight slouch. The mouth, a bit open; commenting perhaps, or exhaling (no, not exhaling), or maybe perched for another sip.

I love this photo.

5 thoughts on “Some Comments on the Impressiveness of a Certain Photograph of Ernest Hemingway”

  1. It’s a great picture, really. The thing that bothers me, though, is the line that seems to be protruding from his mouth. I wish it were a cigarette or cigar or toothpick, but it’s actually a seem line in the wooden siding of the house outside of which he’s sitting. It’s messes up a photo that otherwise would have been wonderful.

    Am I wrong?


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