it's my way or the hemingway.

i'm quite interested in ernest hemingway.  i find that i have a tendency to become more fascinated by an artist or author rather than their work in itself - a sure sign i am destined to be a psychologist rather than a creative-type!  i have read hemingway's a moveable feast, which tells the story of his live in paris with his first wife hadley, and which i enjoyed immensely.  i also recently finished reading a book about the women in his life, which was a curious way of learning about him.  the book (the hemingway women by bernice kent, if you're interested) told the story of his life through introducing the women in his family, then his girlfriends and wives (of which he had four).

thanks to my feminist mother, i often find myself acutely aware of gender roles in books, the media and my own life, and they could not be more exaggerated or stereotypical in the life of ernest hemingway.  that his friends and wives called him 'papa' hints at the patriarchal and domineering role he seemed to have taken in nearly all of his relationships.  i found it curious then to observe the ways in which his various partners responded to this.  it seemed that all but one (martha, my favourite) simply made room, changed the shape of their lives and their souls and their dreams to make way for this very large, all-consuming (in a metaphorical way, rather than a too much mcdonalds way) man.  what was sad about this was that while they were home, ironing his shirts, he was usually out meeting his next wife.

where i get confused about this whole thing is in the fact that, as a result of the choices he made about his life, his priorities and his relationships, ernest hemingway made enormous contributions to the world of literature.  as far as i can see, he treated a lot of women like crap, left his kids at home with mean nannies while he travelled the world, and was generally a selfish, chauvinist, slightly crazy alcoholic, and yet he will remain revered for his writing, and with good reason.

so this makes me wonder - if you have a gift, something you can foster and develop and share with the world, is it okay to be a bit of a jerk in other areas of your life?  i know this year when i have been in the dark deep depths of trying to understand a new concept or a new person that i felt like i needed to be selfish, to save all my resources for growing and changing and learning new things.  i really don't think i would have gotten through if i hadn't done this, but i always wonder whether that is an excuse i have made because really, it feels great to be someone with Something Important To Do.  in the meantime, what about the hadleys of the world, the ones doing your ironing while you're out being Important?

what do you think?

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