HOW DRIVING AMBULANCES IN WW I INSPIRED HEMINGWAY

Hospital after mortar injury

How driving ambulances during World War I inspired Hemingway
By Michael Riedel March 19, 2017 

Several major artists and innovators of the 20th century served as volunteer ambulance drivers during World War I, shaping their experiences on the battlefield into groundbreaking works.

The carnage horrified poet E.E. Cummings, who drove an ambulance in France. He would go on to fracture his verse the way bodies were fractured in the trenches. He poured his anger at the senselessness of war into letters back to the United States — and found himself in a detention camp for subversives. He recounted his imprisonment in his novel “The Enormous Room.”

W. Somerset Maugham, who trained as a doctor, did not flinch from the horror. He picked up body parts and treated gaping wounds with cool detachment, the kind of detachment he would later use to dissect the emotional lives of his characters in novels such as “The Painted Veil.”

Somerset Maugham

At 16, Walt Disney was too young to enlist, so he volunteered for the Red Cross as an ambulance driver. He was sent to France and had little contact with the wounded. He spent most of his time drawing. “I found out that inside or outside of an ambulance is as good a place as any to draw,” he said.

While training to be a driver, Disney befriended Ray Kroc, another patriot who was too young to enlist and had chosen to be an ambulance driver instead. In the 1950s, Kroc would become one of the country’s best known businessmen when he turned McDonald’s into a fast-food empire.

But the deepest friendship to develop in the ambulance-driver ranks was between Ernest Hemingway and John Dos Passos. They shared not only an occupation but a desire to revolutionize American writing — that would last until the ideological battles of the 1930s tore it apart.

the young author

Their relationship is detailed in James McGrath Morris’ new book, “The Ambulance Drivers: Hemingway, Dos Passos, and a Friendship Made and Lost in War.”

John Dos Passos

“The world was shattered, and Hemingway and Dos Passos explicitly felt they would have to write about life in a different way,” Morris told The Post.

Dos Passos had poor eyesight that made him unfit for combat, so he joined the volunteer ambulance corps. He had to pick his way through corpse-filled trenches at Verdun, writing in his diary, “Horror is so piled on horror there can be no more.”

Hemingway tried to enlist in the army, but he, too, failed vision tests. He joined the Red Cross and was dispatched to an ambulance unit on the Italian front. He met Dos Passos over a dinner of rabbit stew and red wine at a hospital near Schio.

A mortar cut short Hemingway’s service. He spent the rest of the war in a hospital, where he fell in love with a nurse who inspired the character of Catherine Barkley in “A Farewell to Arms.”

Agnes and Hem

Dos Passos had a very different experience. “[He] carried buckets of body parts and suffered a mustard-gas attack. For him war was senseless and crushing and must be opposed,” Morris said.

After the war they both lived in Paris, spending hours in Left Bank cafes discussing art, books and their desire to revolutionize American literature.

The friendship showed signs of fraying, especially when Dos Passos urged Hemingway to join left-wing causes that Hemingway eschewed. But they continued to spend a lot of time together fishing — and drinking — in Cuba and the Florida Keys.

key west house

The break came during the Spanish Civil War. Dos Passos, while staunchly anti-fascist, began to sour on the left-wing government of Spain, whose main ally was the Soviet Union. Hemingway supported the government in its battle against General Franco and the ­fascists.

When a friend was killed in the war, Dos Passos suspected (with good reason) that the communists had murdered him. Hemingway told him, “Don’t ask questions,” Morris writes.

In 1964, decades after the Spanish Civil War and three years after his own death, Hemingway exacted revenge on Dos Passos with the posthumous publishing of his memoir, “A Moveable Feast.” He depicted Dos Passos as a parasite who lived off rich friends.

As Morris writes, “War forged their friendship, but in the end ­another war took it from them.”

Young man with all of it ahead

Visit to Hemingway Collection Part 2

Continuation of post regarding my visit to the Kennedy Library, Hemingway Exhibit on Between the Wars

Hem and Hadley near their wedding
Hem and Hadley near their wedding

There was an anecdote displayed of an interview that Hemingway had with George Plimpton. Plimpton knew that Hemingway had written the end of A Farewell to Arms something like 39 times. Plimpton, a writer himself, asked if there was a technical problem that stumped him and why he kept re-writing the end. What was the problem? What was the hold-up???Image result for george plimpton

Hemingway, in typical succinct style, replied “getting the words right.”

Old joke but still makes me smile: A farewell to arms
Old joke but still makes me smile: A farewell to arms

Finally, a famous quote from A Farewell to Arms (1929) was posted. Most people know the first sentence, but not the next one. It reads, “The world breaks everyone and after many are strong in the broken places.” Most people stop there.

Hemingway and Martha: between their personal wars
Hemingway and Martha: between their personal wars

It goes on, however, But those that will not break, it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these, you can be sure it will kill you too, but there will be no special hurry.

Thus we go from something that sounds somewhat upbeat and promising to a rather grim conclusion. Still, above all Hemingway believed that men can’t be defeated even in death.

full quote of "the world breaks everyone"
full quote of “the world breaks everyone”

Finally, his mantra for writing was the following:

  1. Use short sentences.
  2. Use short first paragraphs.
  3. Use vigorous English.
  4. Avoid the use of adjectives.
  5. Eliminate every superfluous word.

And there you have it.img_0373

Love,

Christine

Hello Papaphiles!

 

Working at the Finca
Working at the Finca

HemHello Hemingway readers and fans!  Every four 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 55 years after his death and 117 years after his birth. So here is my opening post to acclimate you to what will be happening here.

  Love and thank you, 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.

Midnight in Paris by Woody Allen
Midnight in Paris by Woody Allen

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 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.

The Hemingway July birthday party in my barn
The Hemingway July birthday party in my barn

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). I try to post at least every two weeks. 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-four 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.

Hem, Hadley and Bumby

 

The Snows of Kilimanjaro
The Snows of Kilimanjaro
Me
Me
A Farewell to Arms
A Farewell to Arms

.

VP Biden quotes Hemingway

Joe Biden
Joe Biden
Izzie: stronger in the broken places
Izzie: stronger in the broken places

I missed the Democratic convention last night but my friend, Barbara, alerted me to VP Joe Biden’s citing of Hemingway (Quote from A Farewell to Arms) when talking about the challenges and love in his own life. Just an excerpt in reference to the tragic death of his son Beau.

“Thank you. His wife and his two kids are here tonight. As Ernest Hemingway once wrote, “The world breaks everyone, and afterwards, many are strong in the broken places.”

I’ve been made strong at the broken places by my love with Jill, by my heart and son Hunter and the love of my life, my Ashley. By all of you, and I mean this sincerely, those who have been through this, you know I mean what I say — by all of you, your love and prayers and support. But you know what, we talk about, we think about the countless thousands of other people who suffered so much more than we have, with so much less support. So much less reason to go on. But they get up every morning, every day. They put one foot in front of the other, they keep going. That is the unbreakable spirit of the people of America. That is who we are. That is who we are. Don’t forget it.”

Hemingway irrelevant?  I think not.

reading
reading

Casting the Big Novels: Me as Casting Director

Now, who should play the great parts that Hem has provided for us?  My selections in bold:

Thinking cap

The Sun Also Rises: (1957)

Blake Lively

A Farewell to Arms: (1932)

  • Helen Hayes (Angelina Jolie) as Catherine

    Angelina as Catherine
  • Gary Cooper (Clive Owen) as Frederic

A Farewell to Arms (1957)

  • Jennifer Jones as Catherine (Hemingway dismayed that she was 40. Catherine was supposed to be in her twenties.)
  • Rock Hudson as Frederic

A Farewell to Arms (In Love and War) (1996)

  • Sandra Bullock as Catherine
  • Chris O’Donnell as Frederic

For Whom the Bell Tolls: (1943)

RooneyMara
  • Ingrid Bergman (Rooney Mara) as Maria
  • Gary Cooper (Ben Affleck) as Robert Jordan

The Snows of Kilimanjaro  (1952)

  • Gregory Peck (Ed Harris) as Harry
  • Susan Hayward (Sharon Stone) as Helen
  • Ava Gardner (Kate Beckinsale) as Cynthia

    Kate Beckinsale

The Old Man and the Sea ( 1958)

  • Spencer Tracy ( Javier Bardem) as Santiago

SO HOW DID I DO?

Javier Bardem

 

 

 

 

Fun Fact: Banned Hemingway

Catherine and Frederic
Catherine and Frederic

I knew that Hemingway’s books were banned in various communities and countries. The below are added nuances.

 

For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940) by Ernest Hemingway. The story considers suicide in preference to capture during the Spanish Civil War. In 1940, the U.S. Postal Service refused to let it go through the mail.

For whom the bell tolls in Polish
For whom the bell tolls in Polish

Hemingway lived and wrote in Piggott, northeast of Jonesboro, around 1930. He worked on another of his frequently banned books, A Farewell to Arms (1929) while in Piggott, where he is remembered by the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center.

Veterans get help from Hemingway Source

Writing Retreat for Military Veterans at Hemingway-Pfeiffer Gets Underway July 24-26

For an intensive weekend, Vets can write and gain access to their creative side at the homestead of Pauline Pfeiffer, Hemingway’s second wife. her Uncle Gus was a generous patron to Hemingway in his earlier years and in fact, Hem dedicated A Farewell to Arms to Gus Pfeiffer.  What a great idea for giving back and enriching the community. Read more.

Pauline when working for Paris Vogue
Pauline when working for Paris Vogue

Ernest Loves Agnes: and the early romance continues

The newly announced name is a tribute to the romance — real and imagined — of young Ernest Hemingway and nurse Agnes von Kurowsky that grew during the author’s stay as a soldier in an American Red Cross hospital in Milan during World War I. “It’s about falling in love with Italy as much as anything,” Lajuenesse said. “It’s a sweet… bittersweet story.”

Hemingway’s first big romance and the basis of the love story in A Farewell to Arms is immortalized in a new Seattle restaurant. the Romance lives.

While injured in WW I
While injured in WW I
 1918  Nurse Agnes von Kurowsky and American Red Cross volunteer Ernest Hemingway, Milan, Italy.  Photograph in the Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.
1918 Nurse Agnes von Kurowsky and American Red Cross volunteer Ernest Hemingway, Milan, Italy. Photograph in the Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.

The Best of Hemingway Novels

Hem at typewriter

Catherine and Frederic
Catherine and Frederic

I mentioned last post that I’ve been re-reading Hemingway’s novels. I finished A Farewell to Arms and Across the River and into the Woods. I found so much more to love in A Farewell to Arms than my first few times around. While Catherine is dated in her attitude and her fawning for love, she still was working, living on her own, and in love. Frederic goes from looking for a fun time so loving Catherine deeply. I loved the scenes with Rinaldi and when he calls Frederic “baby.”  Wonderful novel.

Across the River was not on the “best” list, At times, I found it hard to get through but it picked up in the end and I liked it but didn’t understand what The Colonel saw in Renata. She was young and beautiful but vapid and not even very spirited. However, Hemingway too was in love when writing it and Adriana, his prototype for Renata,was being seen through his eye. Still  not a favorite. I liked the sense of Venice but not too much else.

Venice nights
Venice nights

Read “Hemingway’s Best Novels” for yourself. Link below.

http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/tip-sheet/article/62748-best-hemingway-books.html

This was a fun article to read. The comments were just as much fun because everyone has an opinion. It is interesting to see which novels are preferred, and whether only purists love the short stories best. I found the insights to be illuminating. My favorite novel is For whom the Bell Tolls, and among the short stories, I love The Snows of Kilimanjaro and A Clean Well-Lighted Place. The end of Something is also one I reread often.

The end of Something
The end of Something

You?