Thursday, December 18, 2008

Can You Honestly Say You're Surprised?

O*ver*com*pen*sate (o'ver-kom'pen-sat') verb: to attempt to make up for or cancel out (something) to an unnecessary degree.

Example: Ernest Hemingway tried all his life to overcompensate for the fact that his mother used to dress him up like a girl.

Well, kids, the cat is officially out of the bag. Check out this article from Mental Floss entitled Why Hemingway Used to Wear Women's Clothing. It's pretty interesting, considering the amount of literary criticism that focuses on Hemingway's treatment of women in his novels.

Apparently, a tell-all book published by Hemingway's sister Marcelline revealed that Hemingway's mother (whom he once described as "an all-time, all-American bitch") had always wanted twin girls, and she didn't let a little thing like biological gender stand in her way:

"Submitting to her twin fantasies, she started dressing Ernest up in Marcelline’s old clothes, despite the fact that they were little girl’s clothes—lacey white dresses with pink bows and the like. Soon his mom was buying two of everything and dressing her children in identical pink gowns and flowered hats. She would refer to the kids as her 'sweet Dutch dollies' and actually tell strangers that they were her twin girls. To perpetuate the twin fantasy, Grace even held Marcelline back a year in school so that she and Ernest would be in the same grade together."

And the piece de resistance? His mother called him Ernestine. Is this the man who might rightly be called a "macho hunter, drinker, womanizer, and misogynist"?[1] What was it Lady Hamlet said? Me thinks she--oops, I mean he--doth protest too much.

Work Cited:

[1] Bauer, Margaret D. "Forget the legend and read the work: Teaching two stories by Ernest Hemingway."

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