Tag: Ernest Hemingway

Hemingway: Getting the words right

Thursday, 2 May, 2019

The backdrop for A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway is the Italian campaign of World War I. Published in 1929, it is a first-person account of an American, Frederic Henry, serving as a lieutenant in the ambulance corps of the Italian Army. The book became Hemingway’s first best-seller and made him financially independent. The unnamed priest in the novel was based on Don Giuseppe Bianchi, the chaplain of the 69th and 70th regiments of the Brigata Ancona, which fought on the Dolomite Front.

Here, the wounded Frederic Henry is visited in the field hospital by the priest, who comes from Abruzzo, “a place where the roads were frozen and hard as iron, where it was clear and cold and dry and the snow was dry and powdery…” The priest’s soporific talk turns to hunting:

“The peasants all called you ‘Don’ and when you met them they took off their hats. His father hunted every day and stopped to eat at the houses of the peasants. They were always honoured. For a foreigner to hunt he must present a certificate that he had never been arrested. There were bears on the Gran Sasso D’Italia but that was a long way. Aquila was a fine town. It was cool in the summer at night and spring in Abruzzo was the most beautiful in Italy. But what was lovely was the fall to go hunting through the chestnut woods. The birds were all good because they fed on grapes and you never took a lunch because the peasants were always honoured if you would eat with them at their houses. After a while I went to sleep.”

INTERVIEWER: How much rewriting do you do?

HEMINGWAY: It depends. I rewrote the ending to Farewell to Arms, the last page of it, thirty-nine times before I was satisfied.

INTERVIEWER: Was there some technical problem there? What was it that had stumped you?

HEMINGWAY: Getting the words right.

A Farewell to Arms


Life and death in the Gulf Stream

Friday, 27 January, 2017 0 Comments

Life: Crew members of the US Coast Guard cutter Cushing from Atlantic Beach in North Carolina have released 27 “rehabilitated sea turtles” into the Gulf Stream. The turtles had been treated for “cold water shock” they suffered earlier this winter.

Death: Further down the coast, in Key West, Ernest Hemingway created the “Death in the Gulf Stream” cocktail in 1937. Here is how the great man himself mixed it:

“Take a tall thin water tumbler and fill it with finely cracked ice. Lace this broken debris with four good purple splashes of Angostura, add the juice and crushed peel of green lime and fill glass almost full with Holland Gin… no sugar, no fancying. It’s strong it’s bitter, but so is English ale strong and bitter, in many cases. We don’t add sugar to ale, and we don’t need sugar in a Death in the Gulf Stream… Its tartness and its bitterness are its chief charm. It is reviving and refreshing; it cools the blood and inspires renewed interest in food, companions and life.”

Drinks links: Angostura bitters, Holland Gin

This excellent illustration of “Death in The Gulf Stream” by Yoko Ueta is from The Cocktails of the Ritz Paris by Colin Peter Field.

Death in the Gulf Stream


Hemingway preserved

Thursday, 2 July, 2015 0 Comments

One of the happier news items of recent weeks was the report that the Boston-based Finca Vigia Foundation plans to ship nearly $900,000 worth of construction materials to Havana to build a state-of-the-art facility for preserving Ernest Hemingway’s books, letters and photos, which are stored in the home where he lived and worked intermittently in the 1940s and ’50s. These valuable items are disintegrating because of neglect and it is essential that they be saved for posterity.

On this day in 1961, Ernest Hemingway “quite deliberately” unlocked the door to the basement of his home in Ketchum, Idaho, went upstairs and, with the “double-barreled shotgun that he had used so often it might have been a friend”, shot himself. He left the world a legacy of writing that remains unmatched in its grace, clarity and humanity:

“Zelda was very beautiful and was tanned a lovely gold colour and her hair was a beautiful dark gold and she was very friendly. Her hawk’s eyes were clear and calm. I knew everything was all right and was going to turn out well in the end when she leaned forward and said to me, telling me her great secret, ‘Ernest, don’t you think Al Jolson is greater than Jesus?’

Nobody thought anything of it at the time. It was only Zelda’s secret that she shared with me, as a hawk might share something with a man. But hawks do not share. Scott did not write anything any more that was good until after he knew that she was insane.”

Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast


Twitter’s third column

Friday, 9 May, 2014 0 Comments

As Twitter rolls out a new look that adds a third column for users accessing the service with a web browser the message is clear: your tweets are front and centre. The new, full-sized layout centralizes tweets and moves secondary information to the sides. The “Who to follow” widget has been moved from beneath the profile bio on the left to the right, where it sits above the Trends block.

Twitter

Language note: Ernest Hemingway included the word “column” in the title of his only play, which he wrote in Madrid while the city was being bombarded during the Spanish Civil War. It was published in 1938 as The Fifth Column and the First Forty-Nine Stories. It is said that Emilio Mola, a Nationalist General, told a journalist in 1936 that as his four columns of troops approached Madrid, a “fifth column” of supporters inside the city would support him and undermine the Republican government from within. The term spread then beyond the borders of Spain and came to define any group of people who destabilize a larger group, such as a movement or nation from the inside.

Political note: In an address to Parliament on 18 March this year, Vladimir Putin “raised the spectre of ‘a fifth column’ — a ‘disparate bunch of national traitors’ — sowing discord inside Russia.”


Evan Robertson creates posters inspired by his love of literature

Thursday, 26 July, 2012

“All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you: the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse and sorrow, the people and the places […]

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