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? The short answer is that this is Hemingway after all. It’s just another variation of isn’t it pretty to think so?
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 Switzerland? Hard to say but we know the impact as it is plays out 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 trust that Hem chose the one that best expressed his intent.
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, who knows? what do you think?
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.”
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.
Their relationship is detailed in James McGrath Morris’ new book, “The Ambulance Drivers: Hemingway, Dos Passos, and a Friendship Made and Lost in War.”
“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.”
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.
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.”
Continuation of post regarding my visit to the Kennedy Library, Hemingway Exhibit on Between the Wars
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???
Hemingway, in typical succinct style, replied “getting the words right.”
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.
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.
Finally, his mantra for writing was the following:
Hello 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.
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.
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.
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.”
• 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.
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.