The one thing I know is that a woman should never marry a man who hated his mother. Martha Gellhorn.
I write one page of masterpiece to ninety-one pages of shit. I try to put the shit in the wastebasket. Ernest Hemingway
Hemingway Misogynist (Definition) – noun, jargon. A male heterosexual individual whose misogynistic beliefs are seen predominantly when he is in a relationship with a strong, independent female who is, most likely, smarter than him. The Hemingway Misogynist is capable of having powerful lifelong friendship bonds with a few strong, independent women smarter than him, but only if he never enters into a sexual relationship with them. He will often say and believe hateful things about women in general, citing his own female friends as individual exceptions. Don’t sleep with this dude, because he will leave tire marks on your lawn when you publish your dissertation to rave critical reviews.Hemingway misogynists, Hemingway cats. Andrea Grimes
Hmm. May I protest?? Pauline, Martha, and Mary were all smart strong women. And Hadley was no dope. And he seems to have slept with all of his wives. Pauline and Mary did tend to defer to Hem but I’d say he liked that both were smart. Martha did challenge him and he did like his wives to be home with life revolving around him. However, I never saw him as disliking women. He just liked his life the way he liked it.
If we look at his literary women, what can we see? Brett, from The Sun Also Rises was smart and strong although troubled. Jake presumably slept with Brett before his injury. Catherine, from A Farewell to Arms, was a career woman before her time and she drove a good amount of that relationship. Maria, in For Whom the Bell Tolls, was young but strong. Pilar was a mountain of a woman, brave, and a hero in my book. Not one was a wimp or simpering girly-girl who just wanted to be dominated. Falling in love is not the same as wanting to be subservient.
Yup, there were many manipulative bitchy women in the short stories and novellas but many of the men were no prizes either. Helen in the Snows of Kilimanjaro and Margo in The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber were wealthy, entitled, and limited. Still Harry in The Snows freely admitted his weaknesses and Helen’s efforts to help him as a writer. When honest, he admitted it was he who chose to be seduced by the easy life more than it was Helen forcing his hand. Margo was not easy in her condescending way but Francis was without backbone until the tragic end.
Hemingway was attracted to women with spirit: Marlene Dietrich, Jane Mason, Josephine Baker, Gertrude Stein, Adriana. All had opinions, attitude, and grace. Yes, Hem hated his mother but he didn’t hate women-kind. In fact, there is ample evidence that he enjoyed women quite a bit not just as lovers but as friends and sounding boards. But, hey, what do I know? Do you think he did?
Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know. Ernest Hemingway
So, yes it was a sad ending that leaves you feeling empty and like nothing is worth anything and love all ends up in the gutter and nothing matters. Where did Frederic Henry go after he left the hospital and walked out into the rain? Why couldn’t there be a happy ever after for Catherine and Frederic? Well the short answer is that this is Hemingway after all. It’s just another variation of isn’t it pretty to think so?
Well apparently Hem did consider quite a few other ways of ending this classic. In an interview in The Paris Review in 1958, Hemingway commented that the final words of “A Farewell to Arms,” his wartime masterpiece, were rewritten “39 times before I was satisfied.” Actually his grandson Sean believes that there are over 47 versions of the ending not to mention different working titles of the book. The alternate endings are labeled and gathered in an appendix in the new edition. For those of us who care about this stuff, it’s a mind boggling enterprise and we play out all of the what ifs and hope that our favored ending had made it through. The reality is that it was Hem’s book and he gets to choose. Would the impact have been the same if Catherine and Frederic set up housekeeping in Italy? Oh who knows but we know the impact as is intense and soul-searing. It stays with you forever.
So what are just a few of the options Hem considered?
1) “The Nada Ending,” Hemingway wrote, “That is all there is to the story. Catherine died and you will die and I will die and that is all I can promise you.” Holy gosh. We need some hope!
2) The “Live-Baby Ending,” listed as No. 7, concludes, “There is no end except death and birth is the only beginning.” Not too cheery either.
3) The “Fitzgerald ending,” suggested by F. Scott Fitzgerald, that the world “breaks everyone,” and those “it does not break it kills. It kills the very good and 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.”
Alternate titles Hem considered were: “Love in War,” “World Enough and Time,” “Every Night and All” and “Of Wounds and Other Causes.” One title, “The Enchantment,” was crossed out by Hemingway.
Hem’s only remaining son, Patrick, noted that the original notes give insight into his father. The revisions are being published by agreement of Hem’s estate and his old publisher, Scribner’s under the imprint of Simon and Shuster.
I believe that the JFK Library, Hemingway Collection, is where the original notes and pages are being preserved. I can’t wait to read this volume and reflect on the possibilities. Ah, the possibilities but I trust that Hem chose the one that best expressed his intent.
If you are the first or fifth commentor on this or other posts, you will win a new copy of the Hemingway Cookbook by Craig Boreth. The recipes are superb but the anecdotes and other Hemingway stories are just terrific. Give it a go please!