Ernest (Miller) Hemingway
1899-1961
Entry Updated : 08/01/2001
Birth Place: Oak Park, Illinois, United States
Death Place: Ketchum, Idaho, United States
Personal Information
Career
Writings
Media Adaptations
Sidelights
Further Readings About the Author
Personal Information: Family: Born July 21, 1899, in Oak Park Illinois,
United States; committed suicide, July 2, 1961, in Ketchum, Idaho, United
States son of Clarence Edmunds (a physician) and Grace (a music teacher;
maiden name, Hall) Hemingway: married Hadley Richardson, September 3, 1921
(divorced March 10, 1927); married Pauline Pfeiffer (a writer), May 10,
1927 (divorced November 4, 1940); married Martha Gellhorn (a writer), November
21, 1940 (divorced December 21, 1945); married Mary Welsh (a writer), March
14, 1946; children: (first marriage) John Hadley Nicanor; (second marriage)
Patrick, Gregory. Education: Educated in Oak Park, IL.
Career: Writer, 1917-61. Kansas City Star, Kansas City, MO, cub reporter,
1917-18; ambulance driver for Red Cross Ambulance Corps in Italy, 1918-19;
Co-operative Commonwealth, Chicago, writer, 1920-21; Toronto Star, Toronto,
Ontario, covered Greco-Turkish War, 1920, European correspondent, 1921-24;
covered Spanish Civil War for North American Newspaper Alliance, 1937-38;
war correspondent in China, 1941; war correspondent in Europe, 1944-45.


Awards: Pulitzer Prize, 1953, for The Old Man and the Sea; Nobel Prize
for Literature, 1954; Award of Merit from American Academy of Arts & Letters,
1954.
WRITINGS BY THE AUTHOR:NOVELS
* The Torrents of Spring: A Romantic Novel in Honor of the Passing of
a Great Race (parody), Scribner, 1926, published with a new introduction
by David Garnett, J. Cape, 1964, reprinted, Scribner, 1972.
* The Sun Also Rises, Scribner, 1926, published with a new introduction
by Henry Seidel Canby, Modern Library, 1930, reprinted, Scribner, 1969
(published in England as Fiesta, J. Cape, 1959).
* A Farewell to Arms, Scribner, 1929, published with new introductions
by Ford Madox Ford, Modern Library, 1932, Robert Penn Warren, Scribner,
1949, John C. Schweitzer, Scribner, 1967.
* To Have and Have Not, Scribner, 1937, J. Cape, 1970.
* For Whom the Bell Tolls, Scribner, 1940, published with a new introduction
by Sinclair Lewis, Princeton University Press, 1942, reprinted, Scribner,
1960.
* Across the River and Into the Trees, Scribner, 1950, reprinted, Penguin
with J. Cape, 1966.
* The Old Man and the Sea, Scribner 1952.
* Islands in the Stream, Scribner, 1970.
* The Garden of Eden, Scribner, 1986.
* Patrick Hemingway, editor, True at First Light: A Fictional Memoir,
Simon & Schuster, 1999. SHORT STORIES, EXCEPT AS INDICATED
* Three Stories & Ten Poems, Contact (Paris), 1923.
* In Our Time, Boni & Liveright, 1925, published with additional material
and new introduction by Edmund Wilson, Scribner, 1930, reprinted, Bruccoli,
1977 (also see below).
* Men Without Women, Scribner, 1927.
* Winner Take Nothing, Scribner, 1933.
* Fifth Column and the First Forty-nine Stories (stories and a play),
Scribner, 1938, stories published separately as First Forty-nine Stories,
J. Cape, 1962, play published separately as The Fifth Column: A Play in
Three Acts, Scribner, 1940, J. Cape, 1968 (also see below).
* The Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway, Scribner, 1938.
* The Snows of Kilimanjaro and Other Stories, Scribner, 1961.
* The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber and Other Stories, Penguin,
1963.
* Hemingway’s African Stories: The Stories, Their Sources, Their Critics,
compiled by John M. Howell, Scribner, 1969.
* The Nick Adams Stories, preface by Philip Young, Scribner, 1972.
* (Contributor) Peter Griffin, Along With Youth (biography that includes
five previously unpublished short stories: Crossroads, The Mercenaries,
The Ash-Heel’s Tendon, The Current, and Portrait of the Idealist in Love),
Oxford University Press, 1985.
* The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway: The Finca Vigia Edition,
Scribner, 1987. OTHER
* in our time (miniature sketches), Three Mountain Press (Paris), 1924
(also see above).
* Today Is Friday (pamphlet), As Stable Publications (Englewood, N.J.),
1926.
* Death in the Afternoon (nonfiction), Scribner, 1932.
* God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen, House of Books, 1933.
* Green Hills of Africa (nonfiction), Scribner, 1935, reprinted, Penguin
with J. Cape, 1966.
* The Spanish Earth (commentary and film narration), introduction by
Jasper Wood, J. B. Savage (Cleveland, Ohio), 1938.
* The Spanish War (monograph), Fact, 1938.
* (Editor and author of introduction) Men at War: The Best War Stories
of All Time (based on a plan by William Kozlenko), Crown, 1942.
* Voyage to Victory, Crowell-Collier, 1944.
* The Secret Agent’s Badge of Courage, Belmont Books, 1954.
* Two Christmas Tales, Hart Press, 1959.
* A Moveable Feast (reminiscences), Scribner, 1964.
* Collected Poems, Haskell, 1970.
* The Collected Poems of Ernest Hemingway, Gordon Press, 1972.
* Ernest Hemingway: Eighty-Eight Poems, Harcourt, 1979.
* Ernest Hemingway, Selected Letters, 1917-1961, Scribner, 1981.
* Complete Poems, edited by Nicholas Gerogiannis, University of Nebraska
Press, 1983.
* Hemingway on Writing, Scribner, 1984.
* The Dangerous Summer (nonfiction), introduction by James A. Michener,
Scribner, 1985.
* Conversations With Ernest Hemingway, University Press of Mississippi,
1986.
* Hemingway at Oak Park High: The High School Writings of Ernest Hemingway,
1916-1917 Alpine Guild, 1993.
* Matthew Bruccoli, editor, The Only Thing That Counts: The Ernest Hemingway/Maxwell
Perkins Correspondence, 1925-1947, Scribner, 1996. OMNIBUS VOLUMES
* The Portable Hemingway (contains The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to
Arms, To Have and Have Not, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and short stories),
edited by Malcolm Cowley, Viking, 1944.
* The Essential Hemingway (contains one novel, novel extracts, and twenty-three
short stories), J. Cape, 1947, reprinted, 1964.
* The Hemingway Reader, edited with foreword by Charles Poore, Scribner,
1953.
* Three Novels: The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, and The Old Man
and the Sea, each with separate introductions by Malcolm Cowley, Robert
Penn Warren, and Carlos Baker, respectively, Scribner, 1962.
* The Wild Years (collection of journalism), edited by Gene Z. Hanrahan,
Dell, 1962.
* By-line, Ernest Hemingway: Selected Articles and Dispatches of Four
Decades, edited by William White, Scribner, 1967.
* Fifth Column and Four Stories of the Spanish Civil War, Scribner, 1969
(also see above).
* Ernest Hemingway, Cub Reporter: Kansas City Star Stories, edited by
Matthew J. Bruccoli, University of Pittsburgh Press, 1970.
* Ernest Hemingway’s Apprenticeship: Oak Park, 1916-1917, edited by Bruccoli,
Bruccoli Clark NCR Microcard Editions, 1971.
* The Enduring Hemingway: An Anthology of a Lifetime in Literature, edited
by Charles Scribner, Jr., Scribner, 1974.
* Dateline–Toronto: Hemingway’s Complete Toronto Star Dispatches, edited
by White, Scribner, 1985.
* The Short Stories, Scribner, 1997.
Media Adaptations: Several of Hemingway’s works have been adapted for
motion pictures, including For Whom the Bell Tolls; To Have and Have Not;
The Sun Also Rises, screenplay by Peter Viertel, Twentieth Century-Fox,
1956; A Farewell to Arms, screenplay by Ben Hecht, The Selznick Co., 1957;
and The Old Man and the Sea, screenplay by Peter Viertel, Warner Bros.,
1957. The Snows of Kilimanjaro: A Full-length Play, based on Hemingway’s
short story, was written by Bryan Patrick Harnetiaux, Dramatic Publications
(Woodstock, IL), 1995.
“Sidelights””The writer’s job is to tell the truth,” Ernest Hemingway once
said. When he was having difficulty writing he reminded himself of this,
as he explained in his memoirs, A Moveable Feast. “I would stand and look
out over the roofs of Paris and think, ‘Do not worry. You have always written
before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence.

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Write the truest sentence that you know.’ So finally I would write one
true sentence, and then go on from there. It was easy then because there
was always one true sentence that I knew or had seen or had heard someone
say.”
Hemingway’s personal and artistic quests for truth were directly related.

As Earl Rovit noted: “More often than not, Hemingway’s fictions seem rooted
in his journeys into himself much more clearly and obsessively than is
usually the case with major fiction writers…. His writing was his way
of approaching his identity–of discovering himself in the projected metaphors
of his experience. He believed that if he could see himself clear and whole,
his vision might be useful to others who also lived in this world.”
The public’s acquaintance with the personal life of Hemingway was perhaps
greater than with any other modern novelist. He was well known as a sportsman
and bon vivant and his escapades were covered in such popular magazines
as Life and Esquire. Hemingway became a legendary figure, wrote John W.

Aldridge, “a kind of twentieth-century Lord Byron; and like Byron, he had
learned to play himself, his own best hero, with superb conviction. He
was Hemingway of the rugged outdoor grin and the hairy chest posing beside
a marlin he had just landed or a lion he had just shot; he was Tarzan Hemingway,
crouching in the African bush with elephant gun at ready, Bwana Hemingway
commanding his native bearers in terse Swahili; he was War Correspondent
Hemingway writing a play in the Hotel Florida in Madrid while thirty Fascist
shells crashed through the roof; later on he was Task Force Hemingway swathed
in ammunition belts and defending his post singlehanded against fierce
German attacks.” Anthony Burgess declared: “Reconciling literature and
action, he fulfilled for all writers, the sickroom dream of leaving the
desk for the arena, and then returning to the desk. He wrote good and lived
good, and both activities were the same. The pen handled with the accuracy
of the rifle; sweat and dignity; bags of cojones.”
Hemingway’s search for truth and accuracy of expression is reflected in
his terse, economical prose style, which is widely acknowledged to be his
greatest contribution to literature. What Frederick J. Hoffman called Hemingway’s
“esthetic of simplicity” involves a “basic struggle for absolute accuracy
in making words correspond to experience.” For Hemingway, William Barrett
commented, “style was a moral act, a desperate struggle for moral probity
amid the confusions of the world and the slippery complexities of one’s
own nature. To set things down simple and right is to hold a standard of
rightness against a deceiving world.”
In a discussion of Hemingway’s style, Sheldon Norman Grebstein listed
these characteristics: “first, short and simple sentence constructions,
with heavy use of parallelism, which convey the effect of control, terseness,
and blunt honesty; second, purged diction which above all eschews the use
of bookish, latinate, or abstract words and thus achieves the effect of
being heard or spoken or transcribed from reality rather than appearing
as a construct of the imagination (in brief, verisimilitude); and third,
skillful use of repetition and a kind of verbal counterpoint, which operate
either by pairing or juxtaposing opposites, or else by running the same
word or phrase through a series of shifting meanings and inflections.”
One of Hemingway’s greatest virtues as a writer was his self-discipline.

He described how he accomplished this in A Moveable Feast. “If I started
to write elaborately, or like someone introducing or presenting something,
I found that I could cut that scrollwork or ornament out and throw it away
and start with the first true simple declarative sentence I had written….

I decided that I would write one story about each thing that I knew about.

I was trying to do this all the time I was writing, and it was good and
severe discipline.” His early training in journalism as a reporter for
the Kansas City Star and the Toronto Star is often mentioned as a factor
in the development of his lean style. Later, as a foreign correspondent
he learned the even more rigorously economic language of “cablese,” in
which each word must convey the meaning of several others. While Hemingway
acknowledged his debt to journalism in Death in the Afternoon by commenting
that “in writing for a newspaper you told what happened and with one trick
and another, you communicated the emotion to any account of something that
has happened on that day,” he admitted that the hardest part of fiction
writing, “the real thing,” was contriving “the sequence of motion and fact
which made the emotion and which would be valid in a year or ten years
or, with luck and if you stated it purely enough, always.”
Although Hemingway has named numerous writers as his literary influences,
his contemporaries mentioned most often in this regard are Ring Lardner,
Sherwood Anderson, Ezra Pound, and Gertrude Stein. Malcolm Cowley assessed
the importance of Stein and Pound (who were both friends of Hemingway)
to his literary development, while stressing that the educational relationship
was mutual. “One thing he took partly from her Stein was a colloquial–in
appearance–American style, full of repeated words, prepositional phrases,
and present participles, the style in which he wrote his early published
stories. One thing he took from Pound–in return for trying vainly to teach
him to box–was the doctrine of the accurate image, which he applied in
the ‘chapters’ printed between the stories that went into In Our Time;
but Hemingway also learned from him to bluepencil most of his adjectives.”
Hemingway has commented that he learned how to write as much from painters
as from other writers. Cezanne was one of his favorite painters and Wright
Morris has compared Hemingway’s stylistic method to that of Cezanne. “A
Cezanne-like simplicity of scene is built up with the touches of a master,
and the great effects are achieved with a sublime economy. At these moments
style and substance are of one piece, each growing from the other, and
one cannot imagine that life could exist except as described. We think
only of what is there, and not, as in the less successful moments, of all
of the elements of experience that are not.”
While most critics have found Hemingway’s prose exemplary (Jackson J.

Benson claimed that he had “perhaps the best ear that has ever been brought
to the creation of English prose”), Leslie A. Fiedler complained that Hemingway
learned to write “through the eye rather than the ear. If his language
is colloquial, it is written colloquial, for he was constitutionally incapable
of hearing English as it was spoken around him. To a critic who once asked
him why his characters all spoke alike, Hemingway answered, ‘Because I
never listen to anybody.'”
Hemingway’s earlier novels and short stories were largely praised for
their unique style. Paul Goodman, for example, was pleased with the “sweetness”
of the writing in A Farewell to Arms. “When it sweetness appears, the
short sentences coalesce and flow, and sing– sometimes melancholy, sometimes
pastoral, sometimes personally embarrassed in an adult, not adolescent,
way. In the dialogues, he pays loving attention to the spoken word. And
the writing is meticulous; he is sweetly devoted to writing well. Most
everything else is resigned, but here he makes an effort, and the effort
produces lovely moments.”
But in his later works, particularly Across the River and Into the Trees
and the posthumously published Islands in the Stream, the Hemingway style
degenerated into near self-parody. “In the best of early Hemingway it always
seemed that if exactly the right words in exactly the right order were
not chosen, something monstrous would occur, an unimaginably delicate internal
warning system would be thrown out of adjustment, and some principle of
personal and artistic integrity would be fatally compromised,” John Aldridge
wrote. “But by the time he came to write The Old Man and the Sea there
seems to have been nothing at stake except the professional obligation
to sound as much like Hemingway as possible. The man had disappeared behind
the mannerism, the artist behind the artifice, and all that was left was
a coldly flawless facade of words.” Foster Hirsch found that Hemingway’s
“mawkish self-consciousness is especially evident in Islands in the Stream.”
Across the River and Into the Trees, according to Philip Rahv, “reads
like a parody by the author of his own manner–a parody so biting that
it virtually destroys the mixed social and literary legend of Hemingway.”
And Carlos Baker wrote: “In the lesser works of his final years … nostalgia
drove him to the point of exploiting his personal idiosyncrasies, as if
he hoped to persuade readers to accept these in lieu of that powerful union
of objective discernment and subjective response which he had once been
able to achieve.”
But Hemingway was never his own worst imitator. He was perhaps the most
influential writer of his generation and scores of writers, particularly
the hard-boiled writers of the thirties, attempted to adapt his tough,
understated prose to their own works, usually without success. As Clinton
S. Burhans, Jr., noted: “The famous and extraordinarily eloquent concreteness
of Hemingway’s style is inimitable precisely because it is not primarily
stylistic: the how of Hemingway’s style is the what of his characteristic
vision.”
It is this organicism, the skillful blend of style and substance, that
made Hemingway’s works so successful, despite the fact that many critics
have complained that he lacked vision. Hemingway avoided intellectualism
because he thought it shallow and pretentious. His unique vision demanded
the expression of emotion through the description of action rather than
of passive thought. In Death in the Afternoon, Hemingway explained, “I
was trying to write then and I found the greatest difficulty, aside from
knowing truly what you really felt, rather than what you were supposed
to feel, was to put down what really happened in action; what the actual
things were which produced the emotion you experienced.”
Even morality, for Hemingway, was a consequence of action and emotion.

He stated his moral code in Death in the Afternoon: “What is moral is what
you feel good after and what is immoral is what you feel bad after.” Lady
Brett Ashley, in The Sun Also Rises, voices this pragmatic morality after
she has decided to leave a young bullfighter, believing the break to be
in his best interests. She says: “You know it makes one feel rather good
deciding not to be a bitch…. It’s sort of what we have instead of God.”
Hemingway’s perception of the world as devoid of traditional values and
truths and instead marked by disillusionment and moribund idealism, is
a characteristically twentieth-century vision. World War I was a watershed
for Hemingway and his generation. As an ambulance driver in the Italian
infantry, Hemingway had been severely wounded. The war experience affected
him profoundly, as he told Malcolm Cowley. “In the first war I was hurt
very badly; in the body, mind, and spirit, and also morally.” The heroes
of his novels were similarly wounded. According to Max Westbrook they “awake
to a world gone to hell. World War I has destroyed belief in the goodness
of national governments. The depression has isolated man from his natural
brotherhood. Institutions, concepts, and insidious groups of friends and
ways of life are, when accurately seen, a tyranny, a sentimental or propagandistic
rationalization.”
Both of Hemingway’s first two major novels, The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell
to Arms, were “primarily descriptions of a society that had lost the possibility
of belief. They were dominated by an atmosphere of Gothic ruin, boredom,
sterility and decay,” John Aldridge wrote. “Yet if they had been nothing
more than descriptions, they would inevitably have been as empty of meaning
as the thing they were describing.” While Alan Lebowitz contended that
because the theme of despair “is always an end in itself, the fiction merely
its transcription,… it is a dead end,” Aldridge believed that Hemingway
managed to save the novels by salvaging the characters’ values and transcribing
them “into a kind of moral network that linked them together in a unified
pattern of meaning.”
In the search for meaning Hemingway’s characters necessarily confront
violence. Omnipresent violence is a fact of existence, according to Hemingway.

Even in works such as The Sun Also Rises in which violence plays a minimal
role, it is always present subliminally–“woven into the structure of life
itself,” William Barrett remarked. In other works violence is more obtrusive:
the wars in A Farewell to Arms and For Whom the Bell Tolls, the hostility
of nature which is particularly evident in the short stories, and the violent
sports such as bullfighting and big game hunting that are portrayed in
numerous works.
“Hemingway is the dramatist of the extreme situation. His overriding theme
is honour, personal honour: by what shall a man live, by what shall a man
die, in a world the essential condition of whose being is violence?” Walter
Allen wrote. “These problems are posed rather than answered in his first
book In Our Time, a collection of short stories in which almost all of
Hemingway’s later work is contained by implication.”
The code by which Hemingway’s heroes must live (Philip Young has termed
them “code heroes”) is contingent on the qualities of courage, self-control,
and “grace under pressure.” Irving Howe has described the typical Hemingway
hero as a man “who is wounded but bears his wounds in silence, who is defeated
but finds a remnant of dignity in an honest confrontation of defeat.” Furthermore,
the hero’s great desire must be to “salvage from the collapse of social
life a version of stoicism that can make suffering bearable; the hope that
in direct physical sensation, the cold water of the creek in which one
fishes or the purity of the wine made by Spanish peasants, there can be
found an experience that can resist corruption.”
Hemingway has been accused of exploiting and sensationalizing violence.

However, Leo Gurko remarked that “the motive behind Hemingway’s heroic
figures is not glory, or fortune, or the righting of injustice, or the
thirst for experience. They are inspired neither by vanity nor ambition
nor a desire to better the world. They have no thoughts of reaching a state
of higher grace or virtue. Instead, their behavior is a reaction to the
moral emptiness of the universe, an emptiness that they feel compelled
to fill by their own special efforts.”
If life is an endurance contest and the hero’s response to it is prescribed
and codified, the violence itself is stylized. As William Barrett asserted:
“It is always played, even in nature, perhaps above all in nature, according
to some form. The violence erupts within the patterns of war or the patterns
of the bullring.” Clinton S. Burhans, Jr., is convinced that Hemingway’s
“fascination with bullfighting stems from his view of it as an art form,
a ritual tragedy in which man confronts the creatural realities of violence,
pain, suffering, and death by imposing on them an esthetic form which gives
them order, significance, and beauty.”
It is not necessary (or even possible) to understand the complex universe–it
is enough for Hemingway’s heroes to find solace in beauty and order. Santiago
in The Old Man and the Sea cannot understand why he must kill the great
fish he has come to love, Burhans noted. Hemingway described Santiago’s
confusion: “I do not understand these things, he thought. But it is good
we do not try to kill the sun or the moon or the stars. It is enough to
live on the sea and kill our brothers.”
Despite Hemingway’s pessimism, Ihab Hassan declared that it is “perverse
to see only the emptiness of Hemingway’s world. In its lucid spaces, a
vision of archetypal unity reigns. Opposite forces obey a common destiny;
enemies discover their deeper identity; the hunter and the hunted merge.

The matador plunges his sword, and for an instant in eternity, man and
beast are the same. This is the moment of truth, and it serves Hemingway
as symbol of the unity which underlies both love and death. His fatalism,
his tolerance of bloodshed, his stoical reserve before the malice of creation,
betray a sacramental attitude that transcends any personal fate.”
Death is not the ultimate fear: the Hemingway hero knows how to confront
death. What he truly fears is nada (the Spanish word for nothing)-existence
in a state of nonbeing. Hemingway’s characters are alone. He is not concerned
with human relationships as much as with portraying man’s individual struggle
against an alien, chaotic universe. His characters exist in the “island
condition,” Stephen L. Tanner has noted. He compared them to the islands
of an archipelago “consistently isolated and alone in the stream of society.”
Several critics have noted that Hemingway’s novels suffer because of his
overriding concern with the individual. For Whom the Bell Tolls, a novel
about the Spanish Civil War, has engendered controversy on this matter.

While it is ostensibly a political novel about a cause that Hemingway believed
in fervently, critics such as Alvah C. Bessie were disappointed that Hemingway
was still concerned exclusively with the personal. “The cause of Spain
does not, in any essential way, figure as a motivating power, a driving,
emotional, passional force in this story.” Bessie wrote. “In the widest
sense, that cause is actually irrelevant to the narrative. For the author
is less concerned with the fate of the Spanish people, whom I am certain
he loves, than he is with the fate of his hero and heroine, who are himself….

For all his groping the author of the Bell has yet to integrate his individual
sensitivity to life with the sensitivity of every living human being (read
the Spanish people); he has yet to expand his personality as a novelist
to embrace the truths of other people, everywhere; he has yet to dive deep
into the lives of others, and there to find his own.” But Mark Schorer
contended that in For Whom the Bell Tolls Hemingway’s motive is to portray
“a tremendous sense of man’s dignity and worth, an urgent awareness of
the necessity of man’s freedom, a nearly poetic realization of man’s collective
virtues. Indeed, the individual vanishes in the political whole, but vanishes
precisely to defend his dignity, his freedom, his virtue. In spite of the
ominous premium which the title seems to place on individuality, the real
theme of the book is the relative unimportance of individuality and the
superb importance of the political whole.”
Hemingway’s depiction of relationships between men and women is generally
considered to be his weakest area as a writer. Leslie A. Fiedler has noted
that he is only really comfortable dealing with men without women. His
women characters often seem to be abstractions rather than portraits of
real women. Often reviewers have divided them into two types: the bitches
such as Brett and Margot Macomber who emasculate the men in their lives,
and the wish-projections, the sweet, submissive women such as Catherine
and Maria (in For Whom the Bell Tolls). All of the characterizations lack
subtlety and shading. The love affair between Catherine and Frederic in
A Farewell to Arms is only an “abstraction of lyric emotion,” Edmund Wilson
commented. Fiedler complained that “in his earlier fiction, Hemingway’s
descriptions of the sexual encounter are intentionally brutal, in his later
ones, unintentionally comic; for in no case, can he quite succeed in making
his females human…. If in For Whom the Bell Tolls Hemingway has written
the most absurd love scene in the history of the American novel, this is
not because he lost momentarily his skill and authority; it is a give-away–a
moment which illuminates the whole erotic content of his fiction.”
In 1921, when Hemingway and his family moved to the Left Bank of Paris
(then the literature, art, and music capital of the world), he became associated
with other American expatriates, including F. Scott Fitzgerald, Archibald
MacLeish, E. E. Cummings, and John Dos Passos. These expatriates and the
whole generation which came of age in the period between the two world
wars came to be known as the “lost generation.” For Hemingway the term
had more universal meaning. In A Moveable Feast he wrote that being lost
is part of the human condition–that all generations are lost generations.


Hemingway also believed in the cyclicality of the world. As inscriptions
to his novel The Sun Also Rises, he used two quotations: first, Gertrude
Stein’s comment, “You are all a lost generation”; then a verse from Ecclesiastes
which begins, “One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh;
but the earth abideth forever….” The paradox of regeneration evolving
from death is central to Hemingway’s vision. The belief in immortality
is comforting, of course, and Hemingway evidently found comfort in permanence
and endurance. According to Steven R. Phillips, Hemingway discovered permanence
in “the sense of immortality that he gains from the otherwise impermanent
art of the bullfight, in the fact that the ‘earth abideth forever,’ in
the eternal flow of the gulf stream and in the permanence of his own works
of art.” Hemingway’s greatest depiction of endurance is in The Old Man
and the Sea in which “he succeeds in a manner which almost defeats critical
description,” Phillips claimed. “The old man becomes the sea and like the
sea he endures. He is dying as the year is dying. He is fishing in September,
the fall of the year, the time that corresponds in the natural cycle to
the phase of sunset and sudden death…. Yet the death of the old man will
not bring an end to the cycle; as part of the sea he will continue to exist.”
Hemingway was inordinately proud of his own powers of rejuvenation, and
in a letter to his friend Archibald MacLeish, he explained that his maxim
was: “Dans la vie, il faut (d’abord) durer.” (“In life, one must first
of all endure.”) He had survived physical disasters (including two near-fatal
plane crashes in Africa in 1954) and disasters of critical reception to
his work (Across the River and Into the Trees was almost universally panned).

But due to his great recuperative powers he was able to rebound from these
hardships. He made a literary comeback with the publication of The Old
Man and the Sea, which is considered to be among his finest works. In 1954
he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. But the last few years of
his life were marked by great physical and emotional suffering. He was
no longer able to write–to do the thing he loved the most. Finally Hemingway
could endure no longer and, in 1961, he took his own life.
In the 1980s Scribner published two additional posthumous works– The
Dangerous Summer and The Garden of Eden. Written in 1959 while Hemingway
was in Spain on commission for Life magazine, The Dangerous Summer describes
the intense and bloody competition between two prominent bullfighters.

The Garden of Eden, a novel about newlyweds who experience marital conflict
while traveling through Spain on their honeymoon, was begun by Hemingway
in the 1940s and finished fifteen years later. While interest in these
works was high, critics judged neither book to rival the thematic and stylistic
achievements of his earlier works, which have made Hemingway a major figure
in modern American literature.
The fifth of Hemingway’s posthumous publications, a self-termed fictional
memoir titled True at First Light, was released on July 21, 1999 to conincide
with the 100th anniversary of his birth. The book, edited by Hemingway’s
middle son, Patrick, and paired down to half the length of the original
manuscript, recounts a Kenyan safari excursion that Heminway took with
his fourth wife, Mary, in 1953. The story centers around Mary’s preoccupation
with killing a lion who is threatening the villagers’ safety, and the narrator’s
involvement with a woman from the Wakamba tribe, whom he calles his “fiancee.”
Many critics expressed disappointment over True at First Light for it’s
peripatetic lack of vision, its abdication of intellectual intent (what
New York Times critic James Wood termed “a nullification of thought”) and
its tepid prose. Kenneth S. Lynn, writing for the National Review, pointed
out that “Ernest Hemingway’s name is on the cover, but the publication
of True at First Light is an important event in celebrity culture, not
in literary culture. For the grim fact is that this ‘fictional memoir’
. . .reflects a marvelous writer’s disastrous loss of talent.” Many of
the critics pointed to Hemingway’s increasing preoccupation with the myth
of his own machismo as a catalyst for the devolution of his writing. New
York Times critic Michiko Kakutani commented, “As in so much of Hemingway’s
later work, all this spinning of his own legend is reflected in the deterioration
of his prose. What was special–and at the time, galvanic–about his early
writing was its precision and concision: Hemingway not only knew what to
leave out, but he also succeeded in turning that austerity into a moral
outlook, a way of looking at a world shattered and remade by World War
I. His early work had a clean, hard objectivity: it did not engage in meaningless
abstractions; it tried to show, not tell.”
True at First Light also inflamed classic critical debate over the true
ownership of authorial intention. While Hemingway’s physical and mental
deterioration, toward the end of his life, rendered his final wishes for
unpublished works unclear, many critics have objected to the posthumous
“franchise” of his deepest failures, novels that he, himself, abandoned.

James Wood offered the observation that True at Frist Light’s lack of substance
may serve “as a warning to let Hemingway be, both as a literary estate
and as a literary influence.” There is evidence, however, that the literary
storm the book stirred would not have bothered Hemingway much. As Tom Jenks
pointed out in a review for Harper’s, “Hemingway’s own belief was that
in a writer’s lifetime his reputation depended on the quantity and median
of his work, but that after his death he would be remembered only for
“Sidelights”his best.” If this is true, then, as one Publishers Weekly
reviewer opined, perhaps True at First Light will “inspire new readers
to delve into Hemingway’s true legacy.”
FURTHER READINGS ABOUT THE AUTHOR:BOOKS
* Aldridge, John W., Time to Murder and Create: The Contemporary Novel
in Crisis, McKay, 1966.
* Allen, Walter, The Modern Novel, Dutton, 1964.
* Astro, Richard and Jackson J. Benson, editors, Hemingway in Our Time,
Oregon State University Press, 1974.
* Baker, Carlos, Hemingway: The Writer as Artist, Princeton University
Press, 1956.
* Baker, Ernest Hemingway: A Life Story, Scribner, 1969.
* Baker, editor, Ernest Hemingway: Critiques of Four Major Novels, Scribner,
1962.
* Baldwin, Kenneth H. and David K. Kirby, editors, Individual and Community:
Variations on a Theme in American Fiction, Duke University Press, 1975.


* Baldwin, Marc D., Reading The Sun Also Rises: Hemingway’s Political
Unconscious, P. Lang (New York City), 1996.
* Barrett, William, Time of Need: Forms of Imagination in the Twentieth
Century, Harper, 1972.
* Bellavance-Johnson, Marsha, Ernest Hemingway in Idaho: A Guide, Computer
Lab., 1997.
* Benson, Jackson J., editor, The Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway:
Critical Essays, Duke University Press, 1975.
* Bloom, Harold, editor, Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms, Chelsea
House (New York City), 1995.
* Bloom, editor, Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, Chelsea
House (New York City, 1995.
* Bloom, editor, Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, Chelsea House
(New York City), 1995.
* Bruccoli, Matthew J. and C. E. Frazer Clark, Jr., editors, Fitzgerald-Hemingway
Annual, Bruccoli Clark Books, 1969-76, Gale, 1977.
* Bruccoli, Fitzgerald and Hemingway: A Dangerous Friendship, Carroll
& Graf (New York City), 1994.
* Burgess, Anthony, Urgent Copy: Literary Studies, Norton, 1968.
* Burgess, The Novel Now: A Guide to Contemporary Fiction, Norton, 1967.


* Burgess, Anthony, Ernest Hemingway and His World, Scribner, 1978.
* Burrill, William, Hemingway: The Toronto Years, Doubleday (Toronto),
1994.
* Burwell, Rose Marie, Hemingway: The Postwar Years and the Posthumous
Novels, Cambrideg University Press (New York City), 1996.
* Castillo-Puche, Jose L., Hemingway in Spain, Doubleday, 1974.
* Comley, Nancy R., Hemingway’s Genders: Rereading the Hemingway Text,
Yale University Press (New Haven), 1994.
* Concise Dictionary of American Literary Biography: The Twenties, 1917-1929,
Gale, 1989.
* Contemporary Literary Criticism, Gale, Volume 1, 1973, Volume 3, 1975,
Volume 6, 1976, Volume 8, 1978, Volume 13, 1980, Volume 19, 1981, Volume
30, 1984, Volume 34, 1985, Volume 39, 1986, Volume 41, 1987, Volume 44,
1987, Volume 50, 1988.
* Cowley, Malcolm, A Second Flowering: Works and Days of the Lost Generation,
Viking, 1973.
* de Koster, Katie, Readings on Ernest Hemingway, Greenhaven Press, 1997.


* Dolan, Marc, Modern Lives: A Cultural Re-Reading of the “Lost Generation,”
Purdue University Press (West Lafayette, IN), 1996.
* Donaldson, Scott, By Force of Will: The Life in Art and Art in the
Life of Ernest Hemingway, Viking, 1977.
* Donaldson, editor, The Cambridge Companion to Hemingway, Cambridge
University Press (New York City), 1996.
* Eby, Carl P., Hemingway’s Fetishism: Psychoanalysis and the Mirror
of Manhood, State University of New York Press, 1998.
* Fiedler, Leslie A., Love and Death in the American Novel, Criterion,
1960.
* Fiedler, Waiting for the End, Stein & Day, 1964.
* Fleming, Robert E., The Face in the Mirror: Hemingway’s Writers, University
of Alabama Press (Tuscaloosa), 1994.
* Frohock, W. M., The Novel of Violence in America, Southern Methodist
University Press, 1957.
* Geisman, Maxwell, American Moderns: From Rebellion to Conformity, Hill
& Wang, 1958.
* Grebstein, Sheldon N., Hemingway’s Craft, Southern Illinois University
Press, 1973.
* Griffin, Peter, Along With Youth, Oxford University Press, 1985.
* Gurko, Leo, Ernest Hemingway and the Pursuit of Heroism, Crowell, 1968.


* Hardy, Richard E. and John G. Cull, Hemingway: A Psychological Portrait,
Banner Books, 1977.
* Hassan, Ihab, The Dismemberment of Orpheus: Toward a Postmodern Literature,
Oxford University Press, 1971.
* Hemingway, Ernest, A Moveable Feast, Scribner, 1964.
* Hemingway, Death in the Afternoon, Scribner, 1932.
* Hemingway, Gregory H., Papa: A Personal Memoir, Houghton, 1976.
* Hemingway, Leicester, My Brother, Ernest Hemingway, 3rd edition, Pineapple
Press (Sarasota, FL), 1996.
* Hemingway, Mary Welsh, How It Was, Knopf, 1976.
* Hoffman, Frederick J., The Modern Novel in America, Regnery, revised
edition, 1963.
* Hotchner, A. E., Papa Hemingway: A Personal Memoir, Bantam, 1966.
* Howe, Irving, A World More Attractive: A View of Modern Literature
and Politics, Horizon Press, 1963.
* Hunter-Gillespie, Connie, Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, illustrated
by Richard Fortunato, Research and Education Association (Piscataway, NJ),
1996.
* Josephs, Allen, For Whom the Bell Tolls: Ernest Hemingway’s Undiscovered
Country, Macmillan International (New York City), 1994.
* Kazin, Alfred, Bright Book of Life: American Novelists and Storytellers
from Hemingway to Mailer, Little, Brown, 1973.
* Kennedy, J. Gerald, and Jackson R. Bryer, French Connections: Hemingway
and Fitzgerald Abroad, St. Martin’s Press, 1998.
* Leff, Leonard J., Hemingway and His Conspirators: Hollywood Scribners
and the Making of American Celebrity Culture, Rowman and Littlefield, 1997.


* Lynn, Kenneth Schuyler, Hemingway, Harvard University Press (Cambridge),
1995.
* Madden, David, editor, Tough Guy Writers of the Thirties, Southern
Illinois University Press, 1968.
* Mandel, Miriam B., Reading Hemingway: The Facts in the Fictions, Scarecrow
Press (Metuchen, NJ), 1995.
* McDaniel, Melissa, Ernest Hemingway, Chelsea House (New York City),
1996.
* Mellow, James R., Hemingway: A Life Without Consequences, Addison-Wesley
(Reading, MA), 1994.
* Monteiro, George, Critical Essays on Ernest Hemingway’s Farewell to
Arms, Macmillan International (New York City), 1994.
* Morris, Wright, The Territory Ahead: Critical Interpretations in American
Literature, Harcourt, 1958.
* Nagel, Jems, editor, Critical Essays on Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun
Also Rises, G. K. Hall (New York City), 1995.
* Nagel, editor, Ernest Hemingway: The Oak Park Legacy, University of
Alabama Press (Tuscaloosa), 1996.
* Nahal, Chaman, The Narrative Pattern in Ernest Hemingway’s Fiction,
Fairleigh Dickinson, 1971.
* Priestley, J. B., Literature and Western Man, Harper, 1960.
* Rahv, Philip, The Myth and the Powerhouse, Farrar, Straus, 1965.
* Reynolds, Michael S., Hemingway’s First War: The Making of “A Farewell
to Arms,” Princeton University Press, 1976.
* Reynolds, Michael, Hemingway: The American Homecoming, Blackwell Publishers,
1992.
* Reynolds, Hemingway, Norton, 1997.
* Reynolds, Hemingway: The 1930s, Norton, 1997.
* Reynolds, The Young Hemingway, Norton, 1998.
* Reynolds, Hemingway: The Paris Years, Norton, 1999.
* Reynolds, Hemingway: the Final Years, Norton, 1999.
* Reynolds, Picturing Hemingway: A Writer in His Time, Yale University
Press, 1999.
* Reynolds, Hemingway: The Homecoming, Norton, 1999.
* Rogal, Samuel J., For Whom the Dinner Bell Tolls: The Role and Function
of Food and Drink in the Prose of Ernest Hemingway, International Scholars
Publications (San Francisco), 1996.
* Rosen, Kenneth Mark, editor, Hemingway Repossessed, Praeger (Westport,
CT), 1994.
* Rovit, Earl R., Ernest Hemingway, Twayne, 1963.
* Seward, William, My Friend Ernest Hemingway, A. S. Barnes, 1969.
* Smith, Paul, ed., New Essays on Hemingway’s Short Fiction, Cambridge
University Press, 1998.
* Stephens, Robert O., Hemingway’s Nonfiction: The Public Voice, University
of North Carolina Press, 1968.
* Szenes, Dominique, Ernest Hemingway, Park Avenue (Paris), 1994.
* Tessitore, John, The Hunt and the Feast: A Life of Ernest Hemingway,
Franklin Watts (New York City), 1996.
* Unfried, Sarah P., Man’s Place in the Natural Order: A Study of Ernest
Hemingway’s Major Works, Gordon Press, 1976.
* Updike, John, Picked-Up Pieces, Knopf, 1975.
* Von Kurowsky, Agnes, (edited by Henry Serrano Villard and James Nagel),
Hemingway in Love and War: The Lost Diary of Agnes von Kurowsky, Hyperion,
1996.
* Wagner-Martin, Linda, ed., Ernest Hemingway: Seven Decades of Criticism,
Michigan State University Press, 1998.
* Waldhorn, Arthur, Ernest Hemingway, McGraw, 1973.
* Westbrook, Max, editor, The Modern American Novel: Essays in Criticism,
Random House, 1966.
* Wylder, Delbert E., Hemingway’s Heroes, University of New Mexico Press,
1969.
* Yannuzzi, Della A., Ernest Hemingway: Writer and Adventurer, Enslow
Publishers, 1998.
* Young, Philip, Ernest Hemingway, University of Minnesota Press, revised
edition, 1965.
* Young, Ernest Hemingway: A Reconsideration, Pennsylvania State University
Press, 2nd edition, 1966.
PERIODICALS
* American Scholar, summer, 1974.
* Arizona Quarterly, spring, 1973.
* Booklist, April 15, 1999, p. 1452.
* Chicago Tribune, July 17, 1986.
* Chicago Tribune Book World, October 13, 1985; May 4, 1986; August
24, 1986.
* Denver Post, July 18, 1999.
* Detroit News, June 9, 1985.
* Forbes, September 26, 1994.
* Georgia Review, summer, 1977.
* Globe and Mail (Toronto), November 30, 1985; May 31, 1986.
* Harper’s May, 1999, p. 53.
* Kenyon Review, winter, 1941.
* Library Journal, May 1, 1999, p. 79; June 15, 1999, p. 113.
* Los Angeles Times, May 22, 1986; January 25, 1987.
* Los Angeles Times Book Review, June 23, 1985.
* Mediterranean Review, spring, 1971.
* Midwest Quarterly, spring, 1976.
* Modern Fiction Studies, summer, 1975.
* Nation, June 14, 1999, p. 24.
* National Review, November 7, 1994, p. 80; June 28, 1999, p. 50.
* New Masses, November 5, 1940.
* Newsweek, May 19, 1986; April 12, 1999, p. 70.
* New Yorker, May 13, 1950.
* New York Review of Books, December 30, 1971.
* New York Times, June 1, 1985; May 21, 1986; July 24, 1989; August
17, 1989; June 22, 1999; July 11, 1999.
* New York Times Book Review, June 9, 1985; May 18, 1986.
* New York Times Magazine, August 18, 1985.
* Observer, February 8, 1987.
* Publishers Weekly, January 11, 1985; May 10, 1999, p. 53.
* Southwest Review, winter, 1976.
* Time, May 26, 1986; July 5, 1999, p. 76+.
* Times (London), July 18, 1985; August 1, 1986; February 12, 1989.
* Washington Post, July 29, 1987.
* Washington Post Book World, June 30, 1985; November 3, 1985; June
1, 1986.
* Yale Review, spring, 1969.
Source: Contemporary Authors Online. The Gale Group, 2001.
Source Database: Contemporary Authors
Words
/ Pages : 7,145 / 24

Author

“A Clean, Well-Lighted Place” was published by Scribner’s Magazine in
March of 1933, but it was not until 1956 that an apparent inconsistency in
the waiters’ dialogue was brought to Hemingway’s attention. Hemingway’s
thirteen word reply to Judson Jerome, an Assistant Professor of English at
Antioch College, said that he had read the story again and it still made
perfect sense to him. Despite this letter, Scribner’s republished “A
Clean, Well-Lighted Place” in 1965 with a slight change in the waiters’
dialogue that they argued would fix the apparent anomaly.
Scribner’s decision to alter the original text, the letter Hemingway wrote
to Professor Jerome, and several papers on the subject all add up to a
literary controversy that still churns among Hemingway scholars. I will
argue that the original text is the correct text and Scribner’s just
failed to interpret it properly. They failed to notice nuances in
Hemingway’s writing that appear throughout many of his other works. They
obviously thought Hemingway’s reply to Professor Jerome was made without
notice of the inconsistency. Most important, I believe they did not
evaluate the character of the two waiters in “A Clean, Well-Lighted
Place.” A careful examination of the character of each waiter can make it
apparent that the original text was correct and that there was no need for
Scribner’s to alter the text.


The dialogue in question results from a conversation the two waiters have
concerning the old man’s attempted suicide. One waiter asks “Who cut him
down?”, to which the other waiter replies “His niece.” Later in the story,
the original text appears to confuse who possesses the knowledge about the
suicide. The waiter who previously said “His niece”, now says: “I Know.
You said she cut him down.” This seems to assume the knowledge about the
attempted suicide has either passed from one waiter to another, or that we
have incorrectly attributed the first exchange to the wrong waiters. So
which waiter asked about cutting down the old man?
When the disputed dialogue between the two waiters takes place, we do not
know enough about them to develop an outline of character. As the story
progresses, the character of the two waiters emerges through their
dialogue and thoughts, as does many of Hemingway’s characters. Once the
character of each waiter is developed and understood, the dialogue makes
more sense when the story is read again.
The older waiter, who is unhurried and can empathize with the old man,
makes declarative and judgmental statements throughout the story. Much
like Count Mippipopolous in “The Sun Also Rises”, the older waiter is a
reflective man who understands life and is not compelled to rush his time.
He says things that convey his nature: “The old man is clean. He drinks
without spilling.” and “I am of those who like to stay late at the cafe.”
The older waiter shows concern for the old man and it would only be
reasonable to assume that he knows a little about him. So if the older
waiter knows about the attempted suicide, why did the original text
“confuse” the issue?
The younger waiter shows all the impatience of youth and an uncaring
attitude towards the old man. He is more concerned about getting home to
his wife and to bed before three than he is about the old man. This
becomes obvious when he says, “An old man is a nasty thing.” We can assume
that because the younger waiter cares only that the old man pays his tab,
he is not paying close attention to what the older waiter is saying about
him. This might be viewed as a long inference, but taken with the original
text it interprets quite clearly.
We have seen that the older waiter possess the character of a man
Hemingway would probably respect and admire. He is reserved,
contemplative, judgmental, and possesses many of the characteristics of a
Hemingway hero. The older waiter was trying to make sense of what he
probably saw as an age of confusion. The soldier that passes by suggests a
conflict is occurring and adds to the old waiter’s perception of
confusion. He was trying to tell the younger waiter how honest and decent
it is just to sit in a clean cafe and drink a few brandies by yourself
while trying to make sense of life. He tries to tell him that it is
different to sit in a well-lighted cafe than it is to sit at a loud or
dirty bar. The cafe is a place of quiet refuge and the older waiter
understands this. The young waiter does not pay close attention to what
the older waiter is saying because he is too concerned with his own
affairs.
Understanding the differences in each waiter’s character and the
inferences that can be drawn from them is crucial when attributing the
dialogue to the waiter. Certain proposals made by Otto Reinert (1959) and
Charles May (1971) about Hemingway’s unconventional presentation of
dialogue can be debunked if it is assumed the waiters have consistent
characters. Reinert and May suggest that Hemingway wrote two lines of
dialogue, but intended them to be said by the same person who in this case
would be the young waiter. This would switch to whom the proceeding
dialogue is attributed to and puts the younger waiter in the position of
telling the older waiter about the old man’s attempted suicide. Reinert
and May say that another double dialogue occurs when the older waiter
says: “He must be eighty years old. Anyway I should say he was eighty.”
This switches the dialogue again and explains the apparent inconsistency
in the original text when the older waiter says to the younger waiter,
“You said she cut him down.”
This would work well, except the dialogue that Reinert and May suggests is
said by the younger waiter does not seem in line with his character. I
cannot accept that the older waiter is suddenly asking all the questions
and that the younger waiter knows enough about the old man to answer them.
While it is true that we are unable to know who speaks which line during
the first two dialogues of the story, when taken as a whole the characters
of the waiters emerge and we are able to attribute lines to each waiter.
The character of each waiter indicates to me that the older waiter knew
about the old man and was therefore telling the younger waiter about him.
If this is so, then the original text still appears to be inconsistent,
but a look at Hemingway’s droll approach to humor will suggest otherwise.
George H. Thomson’s article ” ‘A Clean, Well-Lighted Place’: Interpreting
the Original Text” first gave me the idea that Hemingway might have imbued
the older waiter with a dry humor that is found in other Hemingway
characters. Jacob Barnes in “The Sun Also Rises” and the narrator in
“Green Hills of Africa” possess this dark humor and Hemingway uses it
effectively to befuddle other characters or to add to the cynicism of a
situation. The narrator in “Green Hills of Africa” pretends to aim at
humans while hunting and the guide misunderstands and takes him seriously.
In “The Sun Also Rises” Jake speaks of a woman with bad teeth smiling that
“wonderful smile.” The humor in “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place” is more
subtle, but if it exists as Thomson speculates, then it clears up the
apparent inconsistency in the waiters’ dialogue.
When the older waiter tells the younger waiter that the old man tried to
hang himself, the younger waiter asks, “Who cut him down?” Thomson
suggests the younger waiter was not thinking clearly because it is easier
to lift someone up and untie the rope or to untie the rope itself than it
is to cut the rope and let the person fall down. The older waiter notes
this, but decides to barb the younger waiter by replying, “His niece.” He
does this without further explanation of the particulars because he knows
the younger waiter is completely disinterested anyway. This is shown by
the younger waiter’s next response: “Why did they do it?” Even though the
older waiter said niece, the younger waiter responds with “they”
suggesting he was not listening.
Where the inconsistency is purported to occur in the original text, it is
my feeling that the older waiter is still barbing the younger waiter, but
the younger waiter’s aloofness prevents him from realizing this.
Younger waiter: “His niece looks after him.”
Older waiter: “I know. You said she cut him down.”
Taken literally there is no inconsistency because it was the younger
waiter who suggested someone cut him down. The older waiter simply agreed
with him. I could just imagine the scene when the older waiter said this
to the younger waiter. His eyes would glance up, a thin smile would appear
on his lips, but the younger waiter would not be looking. His
consternation would focused towards the old man who was keeping him from
bed. The older waiter was prodding the younger waiter for suggesting that
to take care of the old man all one had to do was cut him down. When the
younger waiter did not respond to his jab, the older waiter probably just
shook his head and went on to tell him the old man was not so bad.
This might be construed in some camps as just rank speculation, but I
enjoy playing with the original text and trying to interpret what
Hemingway wrote, not what Scribner’s wrote. Whether or not Hemingway
intended this apparent anomaly to be interpreted this way is unknown, but
I do believe he intended to write it as it was in the original text. The
effect of what Hemingway wrote must be analyzed through his style and
usage of language, but it must be done through what he wrote and not what
satisfies someone else’s common sense.
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