Hemingway and Van Gogh

Two such towering figures.  Two very different men who left the world on their own accord, with words and thick paint remaining in their wake.

I read two books this week, “The Paris Wife” by Paula McLain and “The Last Van Gogh” by Alyson Richman.  Both are works of fiction, based on historical fact.  Both broke my heart, even though it’s obvious that there would be no happy ending.  Well, not the ending a romantic like me would typically prefer.  But that’s not how life is, at least when your eyes are too glued to a hardback.

“The Paris Wife” tore at my being in many ways.  I certainly won’t compare myself to Hemingway, but I understood his naivety and spirit during these early stages in his career.  I understood his longing to be something greater and prolific.  Of course, I’ve yet to technically strive toward anything with that much intensity, but I know that what it takes to be substantial is in me.  And his first wife Hadley, comforts and encourages him along the way, so bravely and maybe foolishly, only to be tossed aside.   It was heartbreaking, maybe because the ending was written before the Hemingway’s could touch the Parisian sidewalk.  It was all there, waiting to end this way.

Hadley & Ernest Hemingway

Hadley & Ernest Hemingway


“The Last Van Gogh” is no less tragic, but left a similar feeling of longing.  I don’t personally relate in the same capacity to this novel, I don’t know enough about what ailed him or drove him.  But the novel put a spirit into his persona that I enjoyed.  I almost wanted history to change and for him to overcome his mental state, even knowing it’s incredibly too late to alter.   I’ve always envisioned him as a man with no words, only pictures.  He is depicted as the tortured soul we all perceived him to be, but one who can smile and appreciate beauty in more ways than one.  Maurguerite tends to play the game of life safely, but is that the way to go?   

The Last Van Gogh

The Last Van Gogh

What is life about, I guess, if we only made decisions that had definite outcomes?  There is nothing definite.  Doesn’t everything come with risk?  And is being boring safer?

Here I am, surrounded by people who choose a very typical way of life; go to college, get a job, get married, have babies and live for Sunday football.

What if I wanted to run off to sit in a café and discuss literature?  I’m campaigning to cancel our cable plan in my first attempt.  Does surrounding one’s self with avid thinkers make life more complex or more wholesome?  The famous artists have never led settled lives, but sometimes I can relate.  Melancholy music makes me happy.  Tragedy makes me feel.  Unearthing the past of dead ancestors is more appealing than knowing some of the jerks who are still lingering with their fake plastered smiles.

I long for a Bumby of my own but also the chance to watch the bulls in Spain.  Is it too much to ask, that I live in a heart wrenching novel, but win in the end?

1 thought on “Hemingway and Van Gogh

  1. You can have it all! Take the best of of modern life, play the game, make the most of your relationships and absorb the best the world has to offer. Then you can go watch bulls being killed, drink in Sloppy Joe’s and write about them, paint them, go a bit mad. We’re lucky to live in an age that allows us escapism whilst getting through our days.

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