Alternate Endings to A Farewell To Arms and COOKBOOK GIVEAWAY!

Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.  Ernest Hemingway

Intelligent and happy?

 

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?

Drunken people crossing

 

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.

Book Cover

 

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!

WE NEED 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.”

I’m a Nihilist

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!

 

Hem in Tweed

Wife # 5? Adriana Ivancich. Giveaway details at end!

 

Adriana look alike

Hem was infatuated with Adriana. She seems to have been fond of him but did not return love. In fact, at times, it seems that his interest embarrassed her and she turned from it. It was an open secret that he modeled Renata in Across the River and into the Woods after Adriana. Hemingway delayed its publication for ten years to avoid any scandal.

Hem and Adriana met when she was an ingénue of nineteen and he an icon of forty-nine. She was lovely in an old world Venetian way, not a modern girl look. From an aristocratic family in Italy that was no longer wealthy, Adriana met Hem through her brother who hooked up with Hem at a bar and they struck up a friendship.

Harry’s Bar

 

As is to be expected, Mary came to resent Renata.  She and her mother visited them in Cuba and stayed quite a number of months. Mary first tried to be motherly and charming until she saw that Hem’s interest was more than casual. He became abusive to her, as if wanting her to leave.  Mary however was made of stronger stuff. She liked being Mrs. Ernest Hemingway but not just for the reflected glory.  She loved him.  She loved him and their life. She made clear that she wasn’t leaving and he needed to deal with this girl.

Hem is reported to have told more than one person that he was too old to divorce again and it would cost him too much. Adriana had no interest in marrying Hem but she seemed to like the attention and adoration.  In 1980, some nineteen years after Hem’s suicide, Adriana wrote a book called The White Tower ostensibly to tell her story of the relationship. She said,

Venice

 

“I let the scandal freeze into oblivion and my sons grow up but I owe this book to Papa. This was a responsibility I had to face. I am the missing link in his life.” With all due respect to Adriana, I don’t think she was the missing link in his life.  It’s a bit grandiose to think so.

The book did hit the best seller list in Italy with the omnipresent photo of Adriana leaning into Hem’s chest shyly.  At the age of fifty, she claimed,

“What happened when we met is a little more than a romance. I broke down his defenses; he even stopped drinking when I asked him to. I’m proud to remember I led him to write The Old Man and the Sea.”

Across the River has long been considered Hemingway’s worst novel. “Yes, naturally he wrote it for me, thinking of me, but I didn’t like the book and I told him so,” Adriana says. “I always criticized him when I felt something was wrong, and he changed, and something in me changed too. I shall never stop being grateful to Papa for that.”

Thinking about implications

 

Adriana committed suicide in 1983. Are you seeing a theme here?

Okay, Happy thoughts. THE COOKBOOK GIVEAWAY! The first and fifth comments on the next blog post will be two of the winners of the Hemingway cookbook. If you are one of those two, I’ll announce that here and ask that you provide your email address and I’ll get your mailing address when I email you. Seriously, the cookbook is hard to get .  It has anecdotes and great stuff in it!