Getting into Hemingway’s Head

“On the morning of 2 July 1961, Ernest Hemingway took his favourite shotgun and shot himself in the head at his home in rural Idaho. He had finally done it. He had threatened suicide, described the suicides of others and even play-acted it with empty guns. He had been talked out of suicide, and physically restrained from doing it, twice before. Dogged by declining health, difficulty in writing and now a chronic writer’s block, Hemingway chose death. He was haunted by the knowledge that his father had shot himself. Two of Hemingway’s siblings would later commit suicide, with suicide being the suspected cause of death for another sibling. Suicide was a hereditary risk for the Hemingways.

“In Hemingway’s Brain, Andrew Farah, a clinical psychiatric practitioner, has analysed the causes of the mental decline that precipitated Hemingway’s suicide and has come up with a new diagnosis.

“Born in 1899, Hemingway lived a life that was physically precarious. Sometimes due to accident, sometimes by placing himself in dangerous situations, Hemingway courted danger and death. This was in his character and it underpinned a heroic persona that found its way into his writings. As a boxer, deep-sea angler, big-game hunter, trainee bullfighter, war correspondent and hard-drinker, Hemingway lived a life that transcended the macho and became epic.

“During the First World War in northern Italy, Hemingway was wounded by a mortar explosion and hit by machine-gun bullets. He suffered shrapnel and bullet wounds and experienced concussion…”

Read the full review online on Spiked website, 28 July 2017, here:

http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/getting-into-hemingways-head/20130#.WXtJioTyvIU

Gilbert Stuart: Pathology of Genius

“Can you name the artist whose work has been reproduced more often than that of all other artists in history combined? The chances are that the artist’s name, Gilbert Stuart, won’t leave you any the wiser, yet it is Stuart’s portrait of President George Washington that adorns every US one-dollar bill. Stuart (1755-1828) was the most renowned portraitist in early American history. He painted the first six presidents and his work was admired and sought after by high society.

Yet despite this acclaim, there were contemporary comments about the uneven quality of Stuart’s work. While some portraits are vivid and lifelike, combining observed reality and flattering idealisation, others seemed awkward and cold. People observed how inconsistent Stuart’s style could be, even within single pictures, which led to suspicions that a pupil or one of Stuart’s children was responsible for poorly painted areas that conflicted with Stuart’s known competence. Bitter disputes arose between art historians over attribution of paintings ascribed to Stuart, and works once deemed authentic were relegated to museum basements as fakes…”

Read the full review on SPIKED, 28 March 2014 here:

http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/gilbert-stuart-and-the-pathology-of-genius/14850#.Vd9-wPldU5k

Sean B Carroll: Brave Genius (Camus & Monod)

“When Albert Camus died in a car accident in 1960, the Nobel Laureate was mourned not only as a creative artist but also as a moral philosopher. Camus championed moderation, dialogue and the inalienable dignity of the individual at a time when – in France – partisan loyalty to nation and party often led people to advocate and defend acts of barbarity. Camus refrained from becoming too publicly involved in the debate over Algeria, first in the grip of civil unrest then wracked by civil war, but instead worked to influence events behind the scenes. Acutely sensitive to the suffering of fellow Algerians, he knew his pleas for clemency from the French government and moderation from FLN insurgents would draw condemnation from both ends of the political spectrum.

Even Sartre, Camus’s ally-turned-opponent, admitted he was ‘an admirable conjunction of a person, an action, and a work’.

One of those most deeply touched by Camus’ death was Jacques Monod, a leading microbiologist at the Pasteur Institute…”

Read the full review on SPIKED, 22 November 2013 here:

http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/camus_and_monod_courage_and_genius/14328#.Vd98efldU5k