Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Gay Hemingway

I've been listening to Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940), and although it's an interesting book, there are some slow moments. But I woke the hell up when the narrator started reading this passage:
...Golz was gay and he had wanted him to be gay too before he left, be he hadn't been.

All the best ones, when you thought it over, were gay. It was much better to be gay and it was a sign of of something too. It was like having immortality while you were still alive. That was a complicated one. There were not many of them left though. No, there were not many of the gay ones left. There were very damned few of them left...
The 12-year-old boy in me had to giggle at this passage. Haha, he said he wants to be gay!!

But it's an interesting illustration of how language changes. Obviously in 1940 Hemingway was not talking about homosexuality. (Because of course there were no gays back then!) Even with the current meaning of the word, it's still a very interesting passage. But I wonder what Hemingway would think if he knew how the meaning of his words had changed.

It makes you wonder what innocuous words we use today will take on a whole new meaning in the future. I mean, what if the word hope someday becomes slang for flatulence? Or tired turns into horny? Or facebook becomes a sexual position? (If any of these examples come true, you read it here first.)

It's like historical Mad Libs.

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