The Final Line of a Novel: Its Power

My personal favorite among the famous closers is Ernest Hemingway’s “Isn’t it pretty to think so?” from The Sun Also Rises. This line not only aptly summarizes the themes of the novel but also stands as a wonderfully evocative statement on life in general — the beauty of our imagination is rarely matched by the ugliness of reality.

This article is interesting. While we often remember the first line of a favorite novel, this writer talks about the power of the last line, with his favorite being the last line of THE SUN ALSO RISES. Read other moving final lines.

The last line is the best

The last line is the best

On his own terms

On his own terms

The Sun Also Rises

The Sun Also Rises

Scott

Scott: he closes with a great final line to THE GREAT GATSBY

Some Hemingway Trivia for the Day

 

For this post, I present some trivia that people might not know about Hemingway.

  1. He often wrote standing up especially after the two plane crashes made long bouts of sitting uncomfortable.

    Hem writing standing

    Hem writing standing

 

  1. His father committed suicide. His first wife’s father committed suicide. Two of his siblings committed suicide. His former wife, Martha Gelhorn, committed suicide. His Italian muse, Adriana Ivancich, committed suicide. And, of course, Hemingway committed suicide in 1961.

 

Martha Gellhorn

Martha Gellhorn

  1. Contrary to popular myth, his favorite drink was not a Mojito, but a very dry, very cold Martini.

    To Hem

    To Hem

 

  1. He originally grew the beard to hide a recurrent skin condition and it became his signature look.

 

Hem writing

Hem writing with the beard

  1. He never went to college.

 

  1. He was actually shy when not drinking.

    Drinking and working with cat

    Drinking and working with cat

 

  1. He had an amazing wit and sense of humor, which is not evident in his novels. Read his letters.

 

  1. He had little interest in his sartorial presentation. He preferred loose slacks or shorts and wore them to rags.

sartorial

  1. His pets were part of his family and he worried about them tremendously when he was away from home. The death of a stray who became his constant companion, Black Dog, threw him into a severe depression. He never got over that death.

 

10. He always wanted a daughter. His fourth wife Mary became pregnant and a girl was expected, but it was an ectopic pregnancy and was lost. Hemingway had three sons—Jack, the oldest, with his first wife Hadley, and Gregory and Patrick with his second wife Pauline.

 

The Hemingway Writing App

Hem writing a letter maybe?

Hem finding the right word

Whether you compose presentations, speeches, online content, or just a lot of emails, this app can make a huge difference in the way you write.

This is pretty interesting. It’s an app for $ 6.99 that you apply to your writing and it tells you which sentences are too wordy; whether or not you need to eliminate some adverbs and find a more precise word; and the “readability” of your writing, such as is it readable on an 8th grade level or more likely on a college level. It’s aptly called the “Hemingway app.”.

When some drafts of a few of Hemingway’s stories were found scattered about his Cuban home, there were often notations on them saying such things as “this prose can be tightened,” or “find a better word here.”  He was his own best editor and toughest critic until Max Perkins got his hands on it, anyway. Anyway, this is fun to contemplate.

A Scotch sour and a breeze!

A Scotch sour and a breeze!

Don't even ask. My style is my own and I won't tell you how I do it

Don’t even ask. My style is my own and I won’t tell you how I do it

Frustration

And we all have regrets . . . .

I wanted to do For Whom the Bell Tolls

The great Luise Rainer, first winner of back to back Oscars, apparently wanted to play Maria badly. She didn’t know Hemingway and the studio had its eye on a young Ingrid Bergman, fresh off of her Casablanca triumph.  David O., Selznick took Ingrid to meet Hemingway and he adored her. Luise just passed away but read about her regret.

Hello Papaphiles!

  HEllo!  Every three months, I post my opening post for those just joining in. For those who stop in regularly, I sincerely and truly thank you for reading and for being interested in Hemingway almost 54 years after his death.  Best to all: Christine

 

There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
Ernest Hemingway

What Will Be Happening Here? 

This will be a place to talk Hemingway and any topics related to him and his life.  That gives us a lot of material: writing, Paris, divorce, relationships, Key West, Cuba, Idaho, fishing, boats, bulls, boxing, cats, horses, dogs, the Midwest, movies, other writers.  Anything else?  Oh right, drinking, awards, depression, friends, cruelty, generosity.  Heard enough? Well, there’s still politics, women, religion, Fidel Castro, Gary Cooper, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Africa. Done yet?  Uh, no. we’ve still got mothers, hair, sexual ambiguity, sons, daughters, actresses, sex, suicide, death, clothes, honor, hygiene, the IRS, psychiatrists.

And what would Papa say about a blog?  Hmm, well, if I wanted to pull a page from Woody Allen, I’d say that he’d say: No subject is terrible if the story is true, if the prose is clean and honest, and if it affirms courage and grace under pressure. He was a journalist first and foremost and he kept up with the times so I think he’d be amused.

So what qualifies me to write this blog?  Not too much that’s going to impress you. All I can say is that I love him, just as he was, flawed and fabulous, mean-spirited bully and most gracious of men, driven wordsmith and drunken raconteur, bigot and egalitarian, all of it.  I’m no scholar. I’ll leave that to Timeless Hemingway, www.timelesshemingway.com, which does a superb job and is an unparalleled resource. However, I’ve read them all many times: the books, the short stories, the analyses, the biographies, the women, even the Hemingway cookbook which I actually cook from (the trout is delicious). I’m just an obsessed fan, uncluttered by the need to be neutral.  I hope to learn from you too.

Finally, I find him fascinating, complex, and yes, manly but I think he actually “got” quite a bit about women contrary to popular myth. That’s a topic for another day. Also a topic for another day is why the mask above on the oh so lovely woman. Also a topic for another day is what do we call him in this blog?  Ernest, Ernesto, Wemedge, Nesto, Ernie, Oinbones,Papa, Tatie, Hem, Hemingstein, Hems, or just plain Hemingway? We’ll see. Perhaps we’ll put it to a vote. I have a Hemingway party on his birthday every year (July 21) and I’ll take a poll there too and let you know the results.

Of course, none of my friends “get” it and think Hemingway was that guy who wrote in short sentences and wanted to fight with everyone and run with the bulls.  They are partially right and mostly wrong.  But hey, you can’t throw away old friends just because they don’t really read or have an informed opinion about Hemingway–or can you?

These posts will be short and fun (I hope) and will be up every Friday by midnight. I hope it’s enjoyable for Hemingway people as well as for casual observers. I’ve looked at the other blogs about Hemingway. Most are terrific but there still is room for a lighter take and for the unending discussion about why we continue to read him fifty years after his death. And if you have to ask . . .

Check me out when you have a chance. It’s going to be one hell of a ride.

 

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Hemingway and Cuba Opens Up

The old man and the seaIt appears that for the first time in decades, Cuba will be open to Americans and others around the world.  In reviewing some of the recommended sights to see in Cuba for those eager to take a look, the Finca Vigia is always prominently listed.  For those who followed earlier posts, you may recall that when Hemingway and his wife, Mary, were visiting in the U.S., they were abruptly advised by the FBI that they would not be allowed to return.

John F. Kennedy

John F. Kennedy

Drinking and working with cat

Drinking and working with cat

After Hemingway’s death, Mary was permitted by arrangement through the auspices of President Kennedy to return to the farm to pack up some critical items.  When she and Hemingway left, the phonograph still had the last record they played on it.  She took many papers, but furnishings remained.  Hemingway was devastated to leave his staff high and dry as he was close to most of them and he was devastated to lose his Cuban house.  He knew that something bad was coming as he saw the protests against America and did feel that probably his tenure there was not going to be very long.  However, the suddenness with no preparation was breathtaking.

 

Hemingway was on J. Edgar Hoover’s watch list for years because of his residence in Cuba.  Despite some claims to the contrary, Hemingway was far from close to Fidel Castro.  They met a few times.  I’ve read that they were “fishing” pals but everything else I’ve read does not suggest that that’s the case.  If anyone reading this knows more than I do on this point, feel free to correct me or throw some light on that point.

 

Hem writing standing in the Finca Vigia

Hem writing standing in the Finca Vigia

I love Cuba

I love Cuba

            The Cubans adore Hemingway.  They always have.  Hemingway’s house was in a small run-down town outside Havana, but he frequented Havana often.  He and Martha Gelhorn and later his fourth wife, Mary, renovated the house and made it lovely and comfortable.  It fell into disrepair after Hemingway left and only recently, through the auspices of Maxwell Perkins’ granddaughter, Jenny, have serious efforts been made to bring it back to its former loveliness.  It’s twelve acres on a Cuban hillside, with many rooms opening to patios or with large windows to let in the warm, humid air that he enjoyed.  I just read an article by Reed Johnson published in World News of The Wall Street Journal.  Mr. Reed noted “perhaps no work of art is more emblematic of the countries’ (U.S. and Cuba) tangled artistic affinities than Ernest Hemingway’s Pulitizer Prize winning 1952 novel “The Old Man in the Sea.”  In Hemingway’s taut masterpiece, Santiago, an aging Cuban fisherman and a New York Yankees fan, engages in an epic battle with a giant marlin, with his spiritual idol, Joe DiMaggio, as his invisible first mate.  Hemingway’s portrait of the valiant Cuban is affectionate, respectful and intimately knowledgeable, qualities often lacking in U.S.-Cuban politics, but abundant in U.S.-Cuban art.”

 

All in all, I hope my own future holds a trip to Cuba and Finca Vigia.

 

Last several years

Hem and Castro

When the Uncle of your Wife Buys you a House

A Farewell to Arms

Farewell to Arms

Key West

Key West

Hem and Pauline

Pauline and Hem

A few facts about The Hemingway House at 907 Whitehead Street: It’s one of the most popular tourist attractions in Key West

Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley, lived very modestly in Paris. Hadley had a small trust that enabled them as young newly weds to go abroad and for Hemingway to focus on his writing. He did earn money from his journalism but the trust helped significantly.

When Hem met and fell in love with a young and stylish writer for Vogue in Paris, Pauline Pfeiffer, he felt guilt but he also had fewer money worries when he left Hadley for her good friend, Pauline. Pauline was from a wealthy family from St. Louis. Her family made money in Pharmaceuticals and her Uncle Gus funded the purchase of the home in Key West. Hem dedicated A Farewell to Arms to Uncle Gus.

Sara Murphy and Pauline Hemingway

Sara Murphy and Pauline Hemingway

Still, it can rankle to live in a house paid for by your wife’s family and Hemingway wrote in The Snows of Kilimanjaro through the main character, Harry, that the rich had ruined Harry’s fervor for writing bravely and writing all that he needed to.  The parallels are not too subtle as to Hemingway’s own life,. If you visit Key West, there is still a penny cemented into the pool surround. Supposedly Hemingway was irritated with the escalating costs of renovation and the pool in particular.  It was one of the largest in its day.  He told Pauline in a fit of pique that it was taking his last penny, so she threw one into the cement as it was setting. It’s still there. The woman had a sense of humor!

Key West is a lovely home, more elegant than Cuba, but Cuba was wilder, rougher, and I think more to Hemingway’s taste.