April 29, 2010

"Meetings between great men don't always result in elevated colloquies; sometimes they tend towards the crudely basic."

For example:
When Ernest Hemingway and Scott Fitzgerald met in Paris, at Le Dingo Bar on the rue Delambre in April 1925, Hemingway was disconcerted to be asked: "Did you have sex with your wife before you were married, Ernest?" They became friends, however. Their most intimate conversation (as reported by Hemingway) was also about wives. One evening, Scott Fitzgerald confessed to his friend that his wife, Zelda, had told him his penis was unusually small, and that he could never satisfy any woman. Hemingway said it was just typical of Zelda's undermining ways, but Scott wasn't reassured. So Hemingway asked him to come to the lavatory, where he inspected his friend's lance of manhood. Back in the bar, he explained:

"You're perfectly fine," I said. "You're okay. There's nothing wrong with you. You look at yourself from above and you look foreshortened. Go over to the Louvre and look at the people in the statues and then go home and look at yourself in the mirror in profile." Now there was an act of friendship between creative giants, if not an especially artistic conversation.
Oh, I think it's artistic as hell.

36 comments:

former law student said...

One evening, Scott Fitzgerald confessed to his friend that his wife, Zelda, had told him his penis was unusually small, and that he could never satisfy any woman.

By the twenties, although mankind pretty much understood quantum mechanics, we still didn't know much about the mechanics of sex.

David said...

big swinging dicks of the 1920's, before investment bankers.

Skeptical said...

Why does the author refer to Hemingway by his last name and Fitzgerald by his first?

And yes that was quite an act of friendship by Hemingway.

Independent George said...

Did anybody else think of 'The Chris Farley Show' from SNL...?

RuyDiaz said...

So, Scott Fitzgerald felt inadequate even though he was a famous author adored by many women....

This pretty much explains the offers for pills/natural products/whatever that continue to appear on my inbox.

Joel Engel said...

Friendship? Baloney. Hemingway was at first jealous of Fitzgerald, and then contemptuous, as described by Hem in "A Movable Feast" (from which the penis-judging episode was taken). The chapter about the trip Hem agreed to take with Fitzgerald from (if I remember correctly) Lyon back to Paris is a masterpiece of understated sarcasm. Highly recommended. Hem clearly thought Fitzgerald was weak and hen-pecked. Worse, he believed Fitzgerald was wasting his considerable talent, something Hemingway saw as inexcusable.

Kirby Olson said...

They got right at the essentials. The rest is only literature.

Diamondhead said...

"Over here, Lord Byron whispers something mildly shocking into the ear of Jane Austen (or is she only pretending to be shocked, the minx?), while over there William Shakespeare complains to Harold Pinter about the monstrous new discovery of pipe tobacco which is making theatre punters cough their lungs out, mid-play, night after bloody night."

Shakespeare and Pinter. Oh, bullshit.

D. B. Light said...

There's an old saying:

Whores talk about philosophy,
Philosophers talk about whores.

Ben Calvin said...

As I recall, "A Movable Feast" is widely considered to describe incidents of questionable accuracy.

Theo Boehm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tibore said...

Ok, one of the least important things in my life to have learned is that Hemingway inspected Fitzgerald's weenie. Vaguely interesting anecdote, but really... it's not like it changes my opinion of their works or anything.

--------

But to the overall point, which is the non-earthshattering nature of famous personages interactions: Yes, I'll bet it's actually rather common. Take an example of any two famous people and try to determine what they have in common. Probably tends to be mundane things. If Issac Newton had met Ludwig van Beethoven (yes, I'm aware Newton died before Beethoven was born; just bear with me here anyway), would Newton have regaled him with stories about his observations on dynamics and pontificate on his "Method of Fluxions"? Or would he perhaps note something he saw in the heavens with the telescopes he developed and see if Beethoven had anything to say about it? It's not guaranteed that everyone back then struggled to deal with differential equations, but everyone's looked at the night sky at some point.

From Inwood said...

Scott Fitz & Ernest Hemmingway with 2010 Voice overs in a new Viagra ad?

Seven Machos said...

This story does not ring true to me, especially given Hemingway's proclivity to tell tall tales.

But I do agree that it's very artistic.

Balfegor said...

Ok, one of the least important things in my life to have learned is that Hemingway inspected Fitzgerald's weenie.

Oh, but people have asserted that Arthur Balfour was intersex on less -- to wit, that no one ever saw him naked.

edutcher said...

This explains why I liked Fitz more than Ernie after being exposed to both, and I didn't care for Fitz that much.

ricpic said...

Hemingway was an SOB to all his friends, Fitzgerald included. An example would be Hemingway's public reprimand of Fitzgerald when Fitzgerald published The Crackup (in Esquire, I believe) an extraordinarily understated account of his own nervous breakdown. What Hemingway couldn't stand was that Fitzgerald, by admitting publicly that he had in fact broken down, was breaking some sort of code of manliness. Eff Hemingway and his super machismo.

ironrailsironweights said...

Lance of manhood? That's a new one. I prefer schwantzstucker or one-eyed trouser snake.

Peter

Tibore said...

"edutcher said...
This explains why I liked Fitz more than Ernie after being exposed to both, and I didn't care for Fitz that much."


Considering the opening topic, did you have to use the word "exposed"?? :-S

Lem said...

While face to face communications may still be necessary (tea party meetings & rallies, breaking up with someone) it is one of the most unreliable ways to communicate information.

I would even venture that this deficiency (or shortcoming) might be spurring the popularity of txting.

It would not be surprising if great men of insight might have been aware of this presumption all along.

victoria said...

I think of them as "frenemies" as we now term it. Friends on the outside, enemies on the inside. I suspect that they were each jealous of the other and totally insecure about their talents, prowess with the ladies and their long term impact on the literary world.


Vicki from Pasadena

AllenS said...

Zelda Fitzgerald: "Who do you think you're going to satisfy with that?"
Scott Fitzgerald: "Me."

paul a'barge said...

When did we decide that Hemingway and Fitzgerald were great men?

Great writers certainly.

But great men? Not really.

Lem said...

This "meeting" happened along the lines Theo mentioned.

E.M. Davis said...

"Oh, but people have asserted that Arthur Balfour was intersex on less -- to wit, that no one ever saw him naked."

So he was a never nude?

Methadras said...

Oh if Titus could have been a fly at that table. I can envision a new nickname for him already, Hemingway Hog.

rdkraus said...

Watched To Have or Have Not last weekend.

Bogey, Bacall and Brennan.

Book by Hem.

Script by Faulkner.

Damn, that was good.

==========================

Best course (or most enjoyable) undergard was an English course were we studied Hem, Fitz and Faulkner. That was it. When the course was done, I went out and got most of their other books.

==============================

Hard to see Hem and Fitz as friends. Hem was a man's man kind of guy, and Fitz wrote like a girl.

Balfegor said...

So he was a never nude?

Wasn't practically everyone back then?

rhhardin said...

Meetings between two great women tend towards talk of grandchildren.

peter hoh said...

Hemingway, like Jebediah Springfield, had a noble spirit.

William said...

You miss the subtext. Hemingway is stating that he had a larger penis than Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald may have written the better book, but Hemingway had the larger penis. Hemingway related this moment for posterity because he wished all future scholars and readers to know that he had the bigger penis.....Hemingway's mother dressed him in girl's clothes until he was five. Hemingway had a great need to tell the world that he was very manly and that his penis was larger than that of the writer of The Great Gatsby. Does everyone understand that in comparing the relative merits of these two writers, it is absolutely essential to factor in the size of Hemingway's penis versus that of Fitzgerald's. Looked upon in that light, we can see how A Farewell to Arms is a more substantial book than The Great Gatsby.

victoria said...

William, all you have to do is read the Nick Adams stories and you will see how conflicted Hemingway was about his masculinity. He tried to prove it his entire life until his alcoholism put an end to his performing for the ladies. Then he took a shotgun to his mouth and ba boom, over.

Great writers, yes. Great men, hell no.


Vicki from Pasadena.

William said...

A writer's value as a human being is inversely proportional to his talent as a writer. There are some second tier writers like James Michener who were first rate human beings, but as a general rule the titans were not much fun to hang around....Fitzgerald has had his revenge. The Great Gatsby is the book from that era which endures.

AllenS said...

What size penis would someone who uses the word "duh" all the time have?

mariner said...

AllenS:

WHAT penis? Is there a penis down there somewhere?

Nasty, Brutish & Short said...

For one thing, I don't believe the anecdote.

But even if I did: How quaint it seems now to have to go to the Louve to compare packages! Life before the internet, that's for sure. Now if you're concerned you have a small weiner you just google it.

Also: I don't endorse abusing women, but Zelda deserved to be smacked.