In Search of Harold Loeb

With school back in session, I’m finding that I am too tired to write much here lately. I keep meaning to get to it, but then, for whatever reason, I don’t.

I am deliriously happy at work. I’m hoping it stays that way. I really enjoy my co-workers and my students. Today I showed the 10th grade Honors class a Power Point about Ernest Hemingway. They really seemed to enjoy it. I need to create more of those, because it seems to really capture the students’ interest. Much of my lecture today was all about how much (or most) of The Sun Also Rises is based on real people and events. I was even able to find an interesting piece about how the book was composed, including a brief discussion of the real people that formed the basis for the characters, which my students found very interesting. They were particularly interested in Harold Loeb, the inspiration for Robert Cohn. Suppose that makes sense, as he is Jewish, and one of the issues we have discussed is this notion of Cohn being the “other” and anti-Semitism in the novel. One of my students asked a very good question: did Harold Loeb remain friends with Hemingway after the book was published, considering that “Robert Cohn” was cast in such an unflattering light? I told him I didn’t know, but I decided I would find out. Apparently, the two most decidedly did not remain friendly, as Hemingway reported that Loeb chased him around Paris with a loaded gun after reading the book. My students are going to love that tidbit. He published his own response to Hemingway’s depiction of the events in Pamplona in July 1925 in a 1959 memoir entitled The Way it Was. He had helped Hemingway get some short stories published the previous year, and he was hurt by Hemingway’s thinly veiled description of Loeb as a weak, sentimental fool. As I am learning with my students (I have never taught this novel before — wouldn’t have been able to anywhere I’ve worked up until now), I am finding that I am more intrigued by the backstory of the novel. I think I’ll upload my Power Point and lecture notes for those of you who would be interested. I can’t do it right now, because I left the CD with these files at school.

I am finding that Spark Notes is not only an excellent resource for students, but is also a great place for me to get ideas for class discussion and lecture. Sparker comes from Boston, and she said she has known people who have written Spark Notes for titles she didn’t name. She said they tend to be sort of puffed up about the accomplishment. Well, the ones I’ve looked at are pretty well done, so being puffed-up is okay. However, she also said they were paid next to nothing. I made a decent amount for the Beowulf teacher’s guide, but that was for Penguin-Putnam. I would like to do another for them some time. But then, I guess the concept of a study guide and a teacher’s guide, while similar, are basically different in that the former is meant to help students comprehend and analyze, while the latter is meant to give teachers ideas for constructing lesson plans and units — which is not something the Spark Notes really do.

Well, I’m going to bed. Good night, all.

Update, 9/3/04, 9:39 P.M.

Here are my Hemingway Power Point and lecture notes. Let me know if the files don’t work for you.