July 29, 2017

Hemingway’s “grace under pressure” – original uses & interesting variations...

The New Yorker, Nov 30, 1929 - grace under pressure QC


“Exactly what do you mean by ‘guts’?”
“I mean,” Ernest Hemingway said, “grace under pressure.”
       Ernest Hemingway‘s definition of guts (or courage), as quoted by Dorothy Parker in her profile of Hemingway in the November 30, 1929 issue of New Yorker magazine.             
       Some books and websites mistakenly claim that Hemingway said, “Courage is grace under pressure.” He didn’t. However, according to Parker, what he did say was part of a conversation about courage.
       Here’s the full context of the quote in Parker’s article:
       “That brings me to the point which I have been trying to reach all this time: Ernest Hemingway’s definition of courage...Mr. Hemingway did not use the term ‘courage.’ Ever the euphemist, he referred to the quality as ‘guts,’ and he was attributing its possession to an absent friend.
       “Now just a minute,” somebody said, for it was one of those argumentative evenings. “Listen. Look here a minute. Exactly what do you mean by ‘guts’?”
       “I mean,” Ernest Hemingway said, “grace under pressure.”

       Parker’s profile of Hemingway, titled “The Artist’s Reward,” made the phrase “grace under pressure” famous. But Hemingway had used it before. One previous recorded use was in a letter Hemingway wrote to his fellow writer and frenemy F. Scott Fitzgerald on April 20, 1926.
       Fitzgerald had mentioned to “Papa” that he’d told a mutual friend something Hemingway once said about the bravery involved in bullfighting. Interestingly, in the 1926 letter, Hemingway specified that he “was not referring to guts but to something else. Grace under pressure. Guts never made any money for anybody except violin string manufacturers.”
       Thus, either Hemingway later changed his mind about the meaning “grace under pressure” or Parker put that spin on it in her New Yorker piece.
       In the book Zelda Fitzgerald: Her Voice in Paradise, author Sally Cline documents a third reported use of “grace under pressure” by Hemingway and suggests it may have been a favorite phrase he liked to use. It also appears that Hemingway coined the phrase, since his is the earliest documented use.
       EDITOR’S NOTE: Thanks to my friend, environmental activist Tamela Fish, for asking me about the origin of “grace under pressure,” which led to this post.

Peter Murtagh


“I went to a bullfight once in Mallorca. It was ghastly; horrific. No grace under pressure, no death with dignity. Just cruelty and butchery and degradation of man and beast.”
       Peter Murtagh             
       Irish journalist and author.
       An observation he makes in the book Buen Camino!, co-written with his daughter Natasha            



“Real courage is not grace under pressure. It’s doing the right thing when it’s frightening and hurts.”
       Ramsey Clark
       American lawyer and activist who served at U.S. Attorney General under Lyndon B. Johnson 
       A comment he made about feisty attorney Stephen Yagman, who is known for taking unpopular cases, particularly lawsuits against local and federal law enforcement officials, in an article in George magazine, June 1998.            

A-Rod & Derek Jeter


“It is a bonus for baseball fans that Derek Jeter’s final season as a New York Yankee will be one that Alex Rodriguez spends in baseball banishment. Jeter will be feted in 2014, A-Rod will be forgotten. It would have been indecorous and incongruous to see them sharing the left side of the Yankees infield, Jeter at shortstop and Rodriguez at third base, the captain and the charlatan, grace under pressure next to disgrace under pressure.”
       Christopher L. Gasper
       Sports columnist for the Boston Globe
       In his February 14, 2014 column in the Boston Globe
       Gasper went on to explain: “Jeter will be remembered as one of baseball’s classiest competitors and a consummate winner. A-Rod, sitting out the 2014 season with the longest performance-enhancing drug suspension in major league history, will be remembered as one of baseball’s biggest frauds and fallen heroes.”            

dead cat graphic bd


“When they make the Bill Frist biopic, it's got to be called Disgrace Under Pressure. (Either that or Silence of the Kittens, given his med-school penchant for adopting shelter kitties and then dissecting them for ‘science.’)”
       Shelley Lewis
       American journalist, news producer and writer             
       One of the comments Lewis makes about William H. Frist in her book Naked Republicans: A Full-frontal Exposure of Right-wing Hypocrisy and Greed
       Frist is a doctor who became a Conservative Republican politician, serving two terms as U.S. Senator for Tennessee. As noted by his political opponents and critics like Lewis, when Frist was a medical school student in the 1970s he performed fatal medical experiments on cats he acquired from animal shelters by falsely claiming he wanted to adopt them.

Jeff Danziger cartoon - Ivanka Trump


“It took real courage for Ivanka to stand before 35 million Americans...to help advance substantive policies that will dramatically improve U.S. law in favor of all women, parents and children. Grace under pressure is what she does best.”
       Jared Kushner             
       Wealthy businessman and husband of Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump
       In an he wrote article titled “Why Ivanka Trump Is the Perfect Champion for Women’s Issues,” published in Variety magazine in September 2016
       (Cartoon by the great political cartoonist Jeff Danziger. To read some of the news stories behind it, click this link.)

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