17 comments on “Ernest Hemingway & William Blake | Two Mini Reviews

  1. I notice that the Blake collection is one of Penguin’s Little Black Classics–sometimes I wonder how useful those actually are in terms of introducing people to classic authors, given that none of the text is contextualized, and (unlike in a “collected” or “selected” edition, they’re very small and therefore almost certainly quite limited in content. Like, I’m pretty sure I’d like parts of Whitman’s poetry, but the Penguin LBC that I read contained a lot of very repetitive work, which sort of put me off.

    • They’ve definitely been hit and miss for me so far. Some have definitely fuelled an excitement to explore more of an author’s work, whilst others (like Blake’s) left me feeling very underwhelmed. I imagine it’s a mix of both; sometimes you can just tell a particular style is/isn’t for you, and sometimes the small taster is perhaps too limited to capture the essence of someone’s work. Either way, I suppose I can’t really complain when it only set me back 80p! 😋

  2. Congratulations on actually finishing a Hemingway book, you’ve done better than I managed! I forced myself through the first 50 pages of A Farewell to Arms before I admitted defeat and decided not to waste any more of my life on it. I don’t think Hemingway’s for me.

    Great reviews here. The literary canon can definitely end up being disappointing sometimes! It makes me wonder how many people get put off reading books because they start with the canon and are left underwhelmed. Which is very sad to think about!

    • Thank you! It’s always a relief when you’re not alone in feeling underwhelmed by one of the ‘greats’.

      And yes, that’s very true. It’s sad to think that a lot of people are put off reading because they’re forced to read books like these at school, and think that’s what literature is always like…

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  4. Reviews that go against the grain are so refreshing!
    I read one Hemingway story in college (Hills Like White Elephants) which I enjoyed at the time, but have been hesitant about trying more of his work- I definitely won’t bother with this one, as I have no interest whatsoever in fishing. Hemingway is one of those authors I’d like to be able to say I’ve read, but that I never actually feel inclined to read.
    I also enjoyed Blake’s poetry in college, but my class went into quite a bit more historical depth than I think I’d find on my own in a casual read, so it’s probably best just to stick with my happy memories for now.

    • That’s exactly how I felt about Hemingway! I just wanted to have officially tried his work at least once so I could have an informed opinion. Maybe I’ll be generous and give him another go sometime, but this one hasn’t exactly filled me with excitement, lol.

  5. “Consider me shook by how much of this book is actually about fishing.” You win best first line of a book review for today. Congrats! LOL

    I actually like Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience. It can be interesting to compare the two and see the signs of innocence vs. experience.

    • Why thank you! I shall accept that title with pride 😋

      Blake was undoubtedly good at what he did, so I totally respect his enduring popularity. His style just wasn’t for me. Alas, we can’t love ‘em all!

  6. I’ve been strongly advised against reading The Old Man and the Sea… because it’s exactly as you said. I’ll try another novel by him, but honestly I’m not too excited about Hemingway. I’ve heard that if you like Fitzgerald’s books then you don’t like Hemingway’s and vice-versa. Do you think that’s true?

    Also why on earth does he say phosphorescence so much? Guess I’m not curious enough to read and find out.

    Great reviews, they were both so amusing!!

    • Ooh, that’s interesting! I haven’t read a huge amount of Fitzgerald, but based on what I have read, I definitely prefer him so far.

      I wish I knew!! I can only imagine he discovered the word while writing the book and thought it sounded great, so he stuck it in at every given opportunity 😂

      Thank you!

  7. I’ve never read Hemingway and I never will. His work sounds awful.
    I am a Blake fan, though if I hadn’t studied him at college, I probably wouldn’t appreciate him.

    • It’ll be a long time before I even consider picking up Hemingway again, lol.

      Blake was certainly good at what he did, and I’m not surprised by his popularity. It’s just not a poetic style that does much for me, personally. It’s always good when you enjoy the writers you have to study though! 😊

  8. Hahaha! These are great reviews! A LOT of Hemingway’s writing is about fishing. Or hunting. Or bull-fighting. I happen to like both Hemingway and Blake but I also discovered them in my early teens while attending Christian school so they felt huge and mind-blowing and sort of secretive. I still have a soft spot for these guys but I think if I read them for the first time now I’d feel differently.

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