by Raymond M. Coulombe
There are a multitude of writers, good writers, who’ve fallen into obscurity. Others have fallen out of favor. Ernest Hemingway comes to mind. He’s gone from being required reading not that long ago to practically invisible. These days he’s the poster child for toxic masculinity
It’s a shame. He was a good writer, a darn good writer. Read his books with a little understand of the history of the time and you will understand his artistry. His style influenced many writers and his influence continues to this day, even if his contributions are not recognized.
If he’s remembered at all, it’s as a womanizer, adventurer, sport fisherman and big game hunter. He’s the typical alcoholic writer who destroyed his life and caused suffering for his loved ones. Dig digger and you’ll find a three dimensional person with disappointments, recurring health problems, and a deep and complex emotional life. His experiences found their way into his books, in one form or another.
Don’t avoid him for being a “man’s man.” Read him to get a deeper understanding of the human condition and to enjoy some pretty darn good prose.
If you are offended by Hemingway, don’t even crack open a book by Rudyard Kipling. He was a fine writer, but that’s over shadowed by his belief in “the white man’s burden.” Never mind that was pretty normal thinking at the time in Britain’s Empire.
As for just plain once popular writers who are now obscure, I’ll throw out a few names: Marcel Schwob, Mary Butts, Julien Gracq, Fran Ross. The list could become depressingly long, but I’ll stop here. Fame is fickle -and isn’t much of a judge of the quality of literature either.