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With him, this vital energy goes its own way, independent of the pessimism and the disillusionment so typical of the age.' Hemingway did not go to the awards ceremony due to illness, some time before that same year his plane crashed and he lived to read his own obituaries. By then he was already experiencing the results of his fast paced lifestyle and at the end of his life he dealt with sicknesses such as mental depression, and eventually a form of paranoia. This was written of his last days 'After Hemingway began talking of suicide his Ketchum doctor agreed with Mary that they should seek expert help. He registered under the name of his personal doctor George Saviers and they began a medical program to try and repair his mental state. The Mayo Clinic's treatment would ultimately lead to electro shock therapy. According to Jefferey Meyers Hemingway received "between 11 to 15 shock treatments that instead of helping him most certainly hastened his demise." One of the sad side effects of shock therapy is the loss of memory, and for Hemingway it was a catastrophic loss. Without his memory he could no longer write, could no longer recall the facts and images he required to create his art. Writing, which had already become difficult, was now nearly impossible. Hemingway spent the first half of 1961 fighting his depression and paranoia, seeing enemies at every turn and threatening suicide on several more occasions. On the morning of July 2, 1961 Hemingway rose early, as he had his entire adult life, selected a shotgun from a closet in the basement, went upstairs to a spot near the entrance-way of the house and shot himself in the head. It was little more than two weeks until his 62nd birthday.' His death marked a great loss to American Literature during the year of 1961 but his life and works have made an impact on American Society.
As previously stated "Boundaries were challenged and crossed in literature and art" back in the sixties and a book made a great impact in the American Society of 1961.
Stranger in a Strange Land was published in 1961 by Ace Books and it could be said that no other Sci-Fi book has moulded a generation as this one did back in the sixties. Robert Heinlein earned a permanent place on the collective bookshelves of Americans. If a person has not managed to read Stranger by now, then he has at least absorbed a bit of it osmotically, for it flows throughout our cultural consciousness. The wikipedia explains the influence the book had. 'Like many influential works of literature, Stranger made a contribution to the language: specifically, the word "grok." In Heinlein's invented Martian language, "grok" literally means "to drink" and figuratively means "to understand," "to love," or "to be one with." This word rapidly became common parlance among Sci-Fi fans, hippies, and computer hackers, and has since entered the Oxford English Dictionary among others.
A central element of the second half of the novel is the religious movement founded by Smith, the "Church of All Worlds." This church is an initiatory mystery religion blending elements of paganism and revivalism with psychic training and instruction in the Martian language. In 1968, a group of neopagans inspired by Stranger took it upon themselves to found a religious group with this name, modelled in many ways after the fictional organization. Their Church of All Worlds remains an active part of the neopagan community today.'
Raised by Martians, taught to speak and think and act in the deliberate, deep Martian way, Valentine Michael Smith has the body of a man but an utterly alien mind. 'Halfway through the novel, you may be asking yourself why the book was so controversial; the answer becomes clear as Michael now steps out into the wider world. He and Jill move around incognito, and Michael learns more about people. After a stint as an unsuccessful magician, he eventually decides to become a preacher. He's not preaching a religion, though; he offers humans a new way of living and thinking, one based on the Martian system he grew up in. This new lifestyle involves a lot of nudity, a lot of open fornication and the constant repetition of a mantra of sorts naming yourself and those around you God. Science fiction readers had never read anything quite like Stranger back in 1961; its originality, bold themes and fearless writing hit with the force of a hurricane, and science fiction has never been quite the same. The Hugo Award this novel rightfully won barely begins to give it the honor and acclaim it deserves. This book has the power to shock readers even today; do not let your own beliefs take away from the wonder to be found in the pages of this novel. Stranger requires and deserves a completely open mind from anyone who would approach it; it also requires multiple readings to even begin to plumb the depths of its riches.' Heinlein himself was surprised by the interpretations and the embrace given to the book he said in an interview. "I've had people offer to explain Stranger in a Strange Land to me. I was simply writing a novel, but apparently I clicked. (April 1980). Some quotes from the book that have transcended are such as:
Government! Three-fourths parasitic and the rest stupid fumbling" (95).
Let our eggs share the same nest" (59).
There was so much to grok, so little to grok from" (17).
Some histories credit Stranger with spawning the "free love" movements of the 1960s; others consider it the veritable bible of the counterculture.
The counterculture of the sixties expressed themselves thru music, and written works. They opposed government, they had a quest for change; they wanted to be different than their forefathers. Bob Dylan, Ernest Hemingway, and the book Stranger in a Strange Land only started the fire that still burns!
We didn't start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world's been turning
No we didn't light it
But we tried to fight it
1. We didn't start the Fire, Billy Joel, http://www.teacheroz.com/fire.htm
2. Frederick W. Turner III, 1971
3. Morgan Kathryn, Associate Director for Special Collections Alderman Library, University of Virginia / Charlottesville, Virginia / 22903
4. Shelton Robert, Bob Dylan: "20-year-old singer is bright new face at Gerde's Club" September 29, 1961 New York Times.
5. Dylan Bob, (2004) Chronicles Volume One, Simon & Schuster, New York
6. 1989 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
7. Dylan Bob, Blowin' in the wind
The Freewheelin' Album. Bob Dylan 1963
8. Chicago Daily Tribune, July 3, 1961 (120)
9. Biography, The Hemingway Research Center, visited May 25, 2006, http://www.lostgeneration.com/childhood.htm
10. Monarch Notes; 1/1/1963; Hemingway, Ernest
11. Presentation speech by Anders Osterling, Permanent Secretary of the…[continue]
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