In the opening paragraph of his Confessions, St. Augustine writes, “our hearts are restless until they rest in You.” For many, the first half of this famous line is a well-known feeling; it is, in many ways, “the feeling of actual life,” to put it in Hemingway’s own terms. Indeed, there lives deep down a desire in all of our hearts for some mysterious reality — a green light across the bay — which seems to forever escape our grasp. Many are dreamers; fewer have found an object worthy of the greatness of their yearning.
What do we do about a situation such as this? And what, if anything, can modern literature do to help us?
This week, we sit down with Mike Ortiz to discuss one of the Upper School’s new courses in the English Department. The course we discuss considers two men who, though both great American authors of the first half of the twentieth century, differed greatly in both their lifestyles and their styles of writing. The authors are the effervescent and romantic F. Scott Fitzgerald and the macho, realist Ernest Hemingway.
For all their differences, however, both men shared at least one trait: a taste for the tragedies of life. Although their styles may diverge syntactically and verbally, the substance of what they express hits the reader with an equally direct force.
In this episode, Mike helps us approach some of the darker aspects of these two men’s lives and literature, seeing their works in the broader context of their lives and their lives in the broader context of our liberal arts curriculum at The Heights.
It’s difficult, Mike’s interlocutor reminds us, to be truly a man fully alive and not feel much pain, for to have lived fully is to have loved with a full heart; and, on this side of paradise, to have loved means to have suffered much. But, as we hear in the episode, reading and studying great authors such as these and, what is more, learning to see the tragic characters of their works in a broad context may be more than a little help in preparing our students to face the many tragic romances of a dreamer and encounter the realism of true Romance.
- 2:17 Background to Hemingway’s Good Friday
- 5:55 A New Model for English Classes
- 10:44 The Great Contrast: A Romantic and A Realist
- 16:05 The Iceberg Theory
- 23:13 How to Read Modern Literature without Becoming a Cynic
- 26:35 The Danger of Cynicism
- 28:00 To Get the Feeling of Actual Life
- 30:05 From The Sun Also Rises
- 35:04 The Loneliness and Inadequacy of Promiscuity
- 37:38 From The Great Gatsby
- 41:14 A Dreamer without an Object
- 43:30 From My Lost City
- 44:30 Called Back to Love: Dante and Fitzgerald
- 45:40 From Troubled live to Decline and Death
- 50:15 The Tragedy Behind the Tragedy
Today is Friday by Ernest Hemingway
The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
My Lost City by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Hemingway’s Brain by Andrew Farah
On Stories by C.S. Lewis
The Troubled Catholicism of Ernest Hemingway by Robert Inchausti
Also on The Forum
Hemingway’s Good Friday by Mike Ortiz
Modern Literature: On Curating the Contemporary with Mike Ortiz
Exploring and Expressing the Human Condition through Literature with Mike Ortiz