Thursday, January 25, 2007


I work in my college’s library which uses the Library of Congress system. I have always used the Dewey Decimal system before and it was awhile before my brain could make the switch.

That was all background except for the last bit which was purely extraneous information. The point is that the other day I was shelving videos in our video section when I noticed that all of the movies made from Ernest Hemingway’s books were in the action and adventure section. This makes me pause and wonder. I am not a Hemingway fan. “The Old Man and the Sea” leaves me cold and I think that the best part of “For Whom the Bell Tolls” is the title (from Meditation XVII by John Donne). But I am not so crass as to say that Hemingway is not literature—or at least not as much literature as, say, “Tom Jones.” That would be sad indeed. And it made me wonder what poor Hemingway had done to deserve such an unkind fate. I suppose the classification makes some sense—the main characters usually are in situations that most of us do not face everyday. But all the same, Hemingway provides some deep insights into human beings and, while I don’t agree with him, I would argue that those insights are the point of his work as opposed to the external comings and goings which are merely vehicles he uses to open up the character to us.

The problem, of course, lies in the fact that evidently the Library of Congress does not see things the way I do and so Papa Hemingway must roll in his grave every time the videos are shelved.

NOTE: It has occured to me since writing this that the classification system MAY have something to do with the fact that Hemingway is American but I will not swear to it and I haven't had a chance to investigate further yet. If anyone else knows, leave me a comment. :)

No comments: