The Old Man Who Can’t See

Ernest Hemingway is arguably one of the most popular 20th century authors. [It is my guess that he is the inspiration for those “Most Interesting Man in the World” commercials.]

He was born in a nearby suburb, so my writing group headed that way one day last month. We gadded about the museum to learn more about Hemingway’s life, and then toured the home where he had been born.

Photo Mar 12, 2 43 40 PMRather than talk about the house or the era furnishings, the tour guide focused on the upbringing that influenced his stories. What a background Hemingway had! His father was a doctor and his paternal grandmother had degrees in botany and astronomy. On his maternal side, his mother was an opera singer, and his grandfather a wealthy and intuitive business investor who was also a storyteller. They were also very religious. Their grandfather held devotions daily in their home until he died when Hemingway was six. In fact, Hemingway’s mother thought her son’s writing was basically trash due to the immorality and language. [Can’t say as I blame her, actually]

The most poignant moment, I thought, was at the beginning of the tour as the guide talked about art influencing Hemingway.

“Hemingway wanted to write as Paul Cézanne painted. With short, broad brushstrokes.”

Hmm, I pondered. Interested from a writer’s standpoint about relating writing to painting, I decided to brush up on my knowledge of Cézanne. While reading an article, it mentioned that Cézanne was nearsighted and possibly afflicted with color blindness and maybe even had diabetic eye disease.

I thought how apropos. Not that the retinal issues of Cézanne in any way affected Hemingway, but that Hemingway, to put it bluntly, was blind.

He had religious instruction, but he was unable to see true religion, and that is worship of God the Father and belief in His son, Jesus Christ.

Hemingway fell away from his parent’s faith because his eyes had not been opened to the reality of the Bible’s sanctifying message. All the influences on his life – art, nature, and travel, had not given him true sight. He was myopic, recognizing and appreciating creativity and nature on this earth, but unable to see the creator God. Hemingway’s worldview was discolored by his sin. Also, like Cézanne who refused to wear glasses, Hemingway did not want his blindness repaired. Sadly, he committed suicide and died in his sin at 62 years old. It was the short, but unhappy, life of Ernest Hemingway.


(If you would like to read more about the day, you can check out my friend’s blog “Observations from the Second Floor”.)

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