Hem all the way

I think crafts and food have dominated here for a little while too long.  It’s time for another bit of book review, except this time, it’s an author rather than one book in particular that I want to talk about.

Some you may know that my dissertation is on Hemingway.  Quite a lot of people are surprised by that.  Not only is he an outdated author, he is also gruesome, gritty and pretty chauvanistic.  But I think there’s more to him than that.  I’m not saying I would have liked him had he still been alive (he would be old… 113 by now!) but I don’t think his literature should be shelved (ha-ha book pun) just because some of it is outdated.

If you are going to read Hemingway, take note.  Not very much happens.  Ever.  The most I can guarantee you is that someone will either have sex or die.  But don’t worry you’ll only get a graphic scene if it’s the latter.  Hemingway is more about people, how they interact with each other and how extreme situations affects them.  So if, like me, you are interested in how people work, Hemingway is a great read.  If you like complicated plots, however, steer clear.

One more health warning: Hemingway is racist and he swears a lot.  If that’s going to bother you, just don’t read Hemingway.

My favourite Hemingway isThe Sun Also Rises.In this novel Jake Barnes deals with life after the war by partying at the fiesta in Pamplona with his nearest and dearest.  Of course it isn’t that simple but I don’t want to give away all the juicy bits (oo-er).  This is a really interesting snapshot of Europe in the 1920s, I love all the idiomatic speech and the general devil-may-care attitude towards everything, but the excessive drinking and anti-senitism can get a bit tedious.

A Farewell to Arms is one of Hemingway’s most famous novels.  It follows Frederic Henry, a volunteer ambulance driver on the Italian front and his love affair with nurse Catherine Berkeley.  I found this novel a little too close to the bone.  Hemingway deals with war and bombing scenes in a very blunt way.  It isn’t simpering or patronising but it just gets a little too much.  This definitely isn’t one for the sentimental.

If you are a fervent feminist, you might want to read For Whom the Bell Tolls.  This is the only Hemingway novel I have read that has a strong woman in it who isn’t just evil.  Her name is Pilar and she’s pretty kick-ass.  But you might be frustrated with Maria, the main protagonist’s love interest.  Again this can be a little unrelenting with the gore of war but the characters are intriguing.

The last really well known novel I want to summarise is The Old Man and the Sea.  This was the novel that sealed the deal for Hemingway’s Nobel Prize for Literature.  But I’m not sure why.  It follows Santiago, an old fisherman who catches an enormous marlin.  This is a novel about the strength of human will and the power of nature, but it left me feeling disatisfied.  I’ll let you find out why for yourselves if you are interested, it’s only 99 pages long.

I think Hemingway is grossly undervalued but at the same time, I am more than aware of his flaws.  It seems a shame that such a talented man should be condemned as outdated when his writing still applies to the fundamentals of humanity and still carries worthy messages.  If everyone just read one Hemingway before they passed judgement, I’d be happy.  But I can’t promise that old Papa Hemingway would really care either way…

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Involve yourself!

I want to start this post with an apology.  My intentions had originally been to post at least twice a week.  Now I am lucky if I post twice a month.  Maybe this is a good thing for all of you, only having to read the minimum of my rambles.  But I do hate not living up to my plans.

Anyway.

I have just entered the last week of my taught university life.  After this week I will have no more lessons.  Just 5 exams and my dissertation deadline.  It is a scary and sobering thought.  Last week, I trained up my replacement on the student newspaper and I handed over to the new committee for the Tap club.  And I am not going to lie.  It was sad.  Especially for Tap.

When I started this blog I wanted to show that people can be domesticated and yet still ‘feminist’.  I say people, because I don’t want to gender stereotype.  Men can be feminists too!  So far, I’ve blogged about knitting, sewing, baking; all very stereotypically girly things.  I can’t say I’m going to stop and suddenly talk about the football (anyone who knows me knows that will never happen in a month of blue mooned Sundays).  But I am going to talk about getting ahead in a career sense.  The topic this time is getting involved.

Coming to university isn’t just about learning (or drinking for that matter).  The whole experience of moving away from home, getting out from under the parental gaze and taking the reins for everything in your life is just as important.  And alongside that, you are presented with opportunities to expand your horizons, and get involved with clubs and societies.

In my time at university I have been a section editor for the newspaper, and the Deputy Editor of the entire publication.  I have also been the President of the Tap and Modern Dance club.  Both of these positions have taught me.  A lot.  What I enjoy, what I detest, what I prioritise, what I’m good at, what I need to improve, what I like in people…it has been a huge learning curve.

And on top of that, I now have to squeeze my CV onto one page.  Actually SQUEEZE.  With my hands.  Ok not with my hands, with my words but you get the picture.  I know have practical, applicable skills that I can brag about like nobodies business.

You can spend your time at university studying, or partying.  That’s cool.  But if you get involved with what’s going on around you, you will get so much more out of it, and give something back too.  I know that sounds like a cheesy cliche, but it’s true.

With the end of my degree, it has been saying goodbye to the Tap and Modern club that has made me cry.  Not my education.  After three years of planning, organising, liaising, coralling, dancing (duh) and general looking after-ing I have put so much in and got so much out that I don’t want it to end.

So anyone who is reading this who hasn’t gone to university yet, or even hasn’t finished, get involved.  I have loved it and I will miss it dearly :’-(