Every so often I realize a craving for capital-L Literature. One of the writers to whom I most often turn in those moments is Ernest Hemingway. In one of life’s serendipitous moments The Art of Manliness Podcast recently interviewed Mark Cirino, host of One True Podcast, a show dedicated to the life and world of Hemingway.
The name of the show comes from Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast, where he wrote: “All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” Not that Papa Hemingway wasn’t above embellishing facts when it suited or soothed his ego. That wasn’t the point. To a world full of treacle, he provides nourishment for all the senses.
For a man most Americans have encountered at some point in their schooling, most of us only have a loose understanding of Hemingway and his work. Now in a time of turmoil, when we find ourselves questioning everything we see in the news, it might be a good time to revisit the writings of a man who attempted to start with the authentic and follow it through to the inevitable. But with someone as prolific and complex as Hemingway, where to begin?
Whether we’ve read all the novels and short stories, or just The Old Man and the Sea, and that under duress, One True Podcast provides a knowledgeable and accessible source. Ranging from 20 minutes to an hour, each episode features a guest discussing some aspect of Hemingway, the culture in which he lived, or the people around him. Fans of Fitzgerald and those who want to learn more about Paris in the 1920s, the first World War, and other aspects of his time also will find much to enjoy.
Some episodes dig deep into a particular work. Others are about what life was like where he was living at the time. One recent discussion centers around Hemingway’s often overlooked second wife, Pauline Pfeiffer, and her story. Far from intimidating to the failed English majors among us (myself included), the conversations are generally easy listening. This is the English class with the fun professor. Guests think so too, often responding to Cirino with, “That’s a great question!”
Hemingway struggled. His imperfections were on full display and are well documented. Thankfully, in God’s Word we have a source of truth that is without error. Of all the true sentences in the Bible, one of the most powerful immediately comes to mind and it’s the one most of us first learned by heart: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
(The Hemingway Society and Foundation, the University of Evansville, and Florida Gulf Coast University)