Luz went back to Pordonone sic to open a hospital. It was lonely and rainy there, and there was a battalion of arditi quartered in the town. Living in the muddy, rainy town in the Winter, the major of the battalion made love to Luz, and she had never known Italians before, and finally wrote to the States that theirs had been only a boy and girl affair. There is also a touch of Gertrude Stein in the non sequiturs, repetitions and parataxis.
Consider the phrase "she had never known Italians before", which implies volumes, and is more like something one would say in conversation. Note also the shifting pronouns and repetitions. The close of the tale is particularly blunt: The major did not marry her in the spring, or any other time. Luz never got an answer to the letter to Chicago about it. A short time after he contracted gonorrhea from a sales girl in a loop department store while riding in a taxicab through Lincoln Park.
The implication is that he, broken-hearted by Luz's change of heart, sought solace in casual sex, only to be immediately punished for this. There is also an unmistakable satisfaction in the report that Luz didn't get anywhere either with her Italian Ardito. The mention of "gonorrhea" — rather than the colloquial "clap" discussed in The Sun Also Rises and elsewhere — is another dissonant note.
Hemingway was playing trickily with his personal history his "boy and girl affair" with Agnes von Kurowsky in the American Hospital in Milan , as he was to do again in Farewell to Arms, where he put it to epic use. Perhaps his instinct told him that such forbidden areas were the most fruitful if one had the nerve to face them. The soldier returns from war and love overseas to become again a boy in the home and chafe under this tragicomic reversal. Here the hero is called Krebs and returns from Germany not Italy , possibly because Hemingway didn't want to hurt too much his parents in this account of an unhappy reunion.
Nick is less consistently present in the following stories of In Our Time. For the rest we see him through other characters that resemble him, Krebs and the American husband s in "Cat in the Rain" and "Out of Season". In a way the Nick Adams story is continued through all of this, suggesting a pattern of childhood and adolescence in America, war in Italy, unsatisfactory return to America, life abroad with an American wife.
These are also the main elements of Hemingway's biography, who has thus composed in his first collection a series of images from life as he has known it, finding and when necessary inventing the symbolic moments that give it meaning. Three stories do not refer to Nick or Nick-like characters at all, and these are the vignettes of "The Revolutionist" a brief Italian encounter told in the Stein reporter style , "Mr.
Butler and his son Joe are also Americans abroad it is somewhat unlikely, however, that Butler should ply his trade in Europe , and this connects the story to others in the collection. Young Joe's comparison between Milan and Paris is a comic and tender piece in the best vein of Mark Twain, terminating with the punch-line: "But, say, it is funny that a big town like Paris wouldn't have a Galleria, isn't it? In general, Milan is to Farewell to Arms what Paris is to The Sun Also Rises — a city made palpable on the page, that has a further existence through a work of fiction.
The Italian background is less attractive in the two stories about Nick-like characters I mentioned earlier. And I want it to be spring Ernest and Hadley were in Rapallo in February and were left to their own devices by their host Pound, who was not yet a permanent resident. Hemingway was depressed because of the loss of his manuscripts. The opening paragraph of "Cat in the Rain" is a masterful painterly depiction of a seaside town square as seen from a hotel window, though it is only in the next paragraph that we discover that we are looking through the eyes of the bored wife.
But "Cat in the Rain" was not inferior to Eliot in presenting unease and sterility and in coming up with the "objective correlative" of the cat, on which so much has been written.
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But Hemingway keeps his eye on Peduzzi and on his ill-placed hopes for the future: His eyes glistened. Days like this stretched out ahead. This was living. He was through with the hotel garden, breaking up frozen manure with a dung fork. Life was opening out. Hemingway once said that the original Peduzzi went on to hang himself, and that this was the "iceberg" fact that the story kept from the reader.
But "Out of Season" tells us enough to make Peduzzi a poignant figure. In the last lines the young American makes it clear that he will have nothing to do with him again. Peduzzi is a kind of Bartleby, older but not wiser, and the story is partly about the American's indifference to his plight, partly about futility. It is very free in style, as if the author himself did not quite know what he was aiming at, and then let the sketch stand, for it is complete though it keeps us in suspension. The point is partly the pointlessness. The theme of fishing recurs grandly in the final story of In Our Time , "Big Two-Hearted River", where Nick reappears in his own person, seeking to reestablish a rapport with himself and the world while keeping the furies at bay.
After completing his first day of angling he looks to the future with some hope: "There were plenty of days coming when he could fish the swamp" The swamp brings back the memory of the never-explained threat that haunts Nick. Nick's confidence about future days is similar to Peduzzi's ill-founded hope about his career as a mentor to the rich American couple: "Days like this stretched out ahead".
This echo of "Out of Season" casts some doubt on Nick's optimism, true to Hemingway's tragic vision. In Our Time presents an early summing-up of twentieth century traumas. It is a time of mindless violence in which the individual is subjected to great pressure and must use all his power to preserve his integrity and mental stability. As Sigmund Freud once observed, much of our mind's energy goes into warding off impressions, rather than in absorbing them.
As a writer, Hemingway had to deal fully with experience while at the same time learning to defuse it, and this is the process of organization that we see at work in his stories. Men Without Women , Hemingway's second collection, has three stories set in wartime Italy, two of which are among his most admired.
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It leads up to the narrator's confrontation with an Italian major who irrationally instructs him never to marry because, as we discover in the story's reversal, he has just lost his much-loved wife. The title is taken from T. Hemingway closes with the major's point of view: "The little devil, he thought, I wonder if he lied to me" Both stories fit the title Men Without Women, and continue Hemingway's scrutiny of the puzzles of human relationships "in our time". He has been severely wounded a time back and though he has recovered he cannot sleep out of fear that "my soul would go out of my body" He is spending the night on the straw floor of a farmhouse and listening to the silk-worms feeding.
He tells us the techniques he has developed to pass the empty hours, like going over his fishing expeditions in America, reliving them in every detail. This explains the ironic title "Now I Lay Me", the beginning of a common bedside prayer. Praying, a rather unmodern practice one would say, plays a surprisingly large role in Hemingway.
In "Soldier's Home" Krebs is forced to pray, ridiculously, but Jake Barnes and others seem to pray quite naturally. At least for these characters, there appears to be some God to pray to, while on the other hand prayer could be seen as a way of organizing one's mental activity alike to writing — or fishing. It is a way of concentrating against dispersion, "a momentary stay against confusion", in Robert Frost's phrase.
In "Now I Lay Me" recourse to memory brings in the ominous recollection of the narrator's mother burning his father's Indian artifacts. In the flashback the narrator's father calls him Nick , which makes this the only first-person story where the narrator is explicitly identified as Nick. In the last part of the story Nick shares his night-thoughts with another soldier, the Italian- American John, who starts talking about his family in Chicago and finally suggests marriage as a solution to insomnia, as if reversing the paradoxical injunction of the Milan major of "In Another Country": "A man ought to be married.
You'll never regret it. Every man ought to be married" The argument for and against marriage was to be central to A Farewell to Arms. Hemingway is preparing the debates to be held there between Rinaldi and the priest on love sacred and profane, and the sublimation of the marriage theme in the union of Frederic and Catherine.
It is Hemingway's negative comment on Mussolini's new Italy as he saw it in a brief tour by car with a friend, "Guy" Guy Hickok. In the first brief episode the two men give a lift into Spezia to a stolid young Fascist who does everything to show his contempt for foreigners. In the second, "A Meal in Spezia", the two travellers go to a restaurant that is really a brothel — with the usual comic consequences. In Italy brothels were not abolished until thirty years later.
The third episode, "After the Rain", is set in the western outskirts of Genoa and shows a Fascist officer fining and cheating the Americans because their licence plate is supposedly muddy. The story concludes, ironically: "Naturally, in such a short trip, we had no opportunity to see how things were with the country or the people" On the contrary, this is Hemingway's assessment of Mussolini's new Italy, which he clearly despises though on this trip Pound in Rapallo would have told him otherwise , conducted by making symbolic use of what would seem rather common travellers' annoyances.
Dick Diver's beating by the Rome taxi- drivers serves a similar if darker purpose in Tender is the Night. The story is little more than anecdotic, and smacks of a settling of accounts, but throws light on Hemingway's change of mind about Italy, which leads to the wilful slighting of the Italian army in A Farewell to Arms. This can be better understood in the light of Hemingway's dislike of Mussolini's Fascism. Hemingways' third collection, Winner Take Nothing, includes two Italian war stories, again among his best.
He describes the postures of the dead and then remembers the circumstances of his wounding, since which he "can't sleep without a light of some sort" He starts raving and speaks disconnectedly to the Italians of his fishing with grasshoppers a theme which had come up in a similar connection in "Now I Lay Me".
Hemingway on Fishing
So perhaps it is a horror- or ghost-story. This is also the case with "A Natural History of the Dead", which first appeared in chapter 12 of Death in the Afternoon, and describes "strange images of death" as seen on the battlefield with a naturalist's attention the reference is to Gilbert White's Natural History of Selborne.
The story finishes with a dramatic crisis involving a dying soldier and an argument between the doctor and an artillery officer about whether he should have a dose of morphine. The doctor seems pitiless in his refusal to help the moribund man, but his reason is unobjectionable: "Do you think that is the only use I have for morphine? Would you like me to have to operate without morphine? You have a pistol, go out and shoot him yourself" In such an emergency he cannot spare morphine for the dying.
The attention shifts to the confrontation between the two men, while the groaning soldier dies unheeded. It's a Swiftian story about the extremes of humanity, revealed in action, and not easy to explain away. In time of war we dispute about nothing" Given the haunting of death throughout the stories, the title could fit the whole collection. This is Hemingway's own project, as outlined in the close of Death in the Afternoon: The great thing is to last and get your work done and see and hear and learn and understand; and write when there is something that you know; and not before; and not too damned much after.
Towards the end of October of Gertrude Stein returned to Paris, read the original version of the story and told Hemingway bluntly that remarks were not literature Reynolds Whatever she actually said at the time, Hemingway immediately set about excising the so-called remarks, turning the story into the published version we have today.
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The last nine pages. The story was interrupted you know just when I was going good and I could never get back into it and finish it.
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No war, just the fishing. For all the reasons I have been adducing—because the original chronology of the story, as Hemingway first wrote it, had nothing to do with coming back from the war. The excised parts had nothing to do with the war but did have to do with Gertrude Stein, and there is a wonderful irony in that connection, because, as I have pointed out previously, the cut parts except for a parodic poem or two , are the most Gertrudesque words he ever penned.
So the excisions and revisions had the double effect of freeing up the story to its essence and liberating it from her influence Josephs 9. Actually there is one minor, skewed mention of the war in the cut part. Quite the opposite, especially given the history of talking movies, still in their infancy in He then proceeds to tell Stewart the same thing two more times in the same letter. Still no rumor of war.
This fish tied with the existing record for the river. Why will his father like it? Because of how the country is. As he had told Edward J. All the metafictional niceties disappeared—and what replaced them? Just the straight fishing. Until the critics came along decades later and decided that the thing left out was the war. At about the same time, Debra A. The unspoken intertwining of fishing and writing carry the story, indeed they are the story. Writing, not the war, is the thing left out. What we lose in metafiction—perhaps the most prescient and revealing passage Hemingway ever wrote—we gain in solid composition, as with the painting of Cezanne.
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By removing Cezanne, he paradoxically achieved the writerly Cezannesque style he was so avidly seeking. Does that mean I am categorically denying the presence of the war in the story? Not altogether. But how are we to know what that is? Is it possible that the story is about fishing and writing on the surface and in its depths also about some inchoate expression of the lasting effects of the war? As any angler knows, one of the great appeals of fishing is precisely leaving everything behind.
It is therefore ironic and poignant that Nick failed to leave thinking and writing behind, especially in the uncut version in which he thinks about writing more than anything. The most subtle exercise of this procedure is Joseph M. I think Flora may be right on some subliminal plane, yet the practical problem of the chronology in the original material, which has bothered me for decades, still persists. The stories are by no means strictly autobiographical. Exorcism is singular, ugly and abortive. What if instead of ridding himself, he was incorporating, assimilating through the incantation, healing, with the words annealing?
Nobody had ever written about country like that. Contrary to what he had written his father, it was not the actual Fox he had put in the story, it was the poetry of the invented, the realer-than-real, Big Two-Hearted River. It was country made immanent. Names like Big Two-Hearted. You can still cross the railroad tracks west of Seney and walk for miles parallel to the Fox, seeing a landscape of river and pines and downed trees and cedar swamps—the swamps are very real—and it can be quite exciting and the river is a classic trout stream.
The inexact psychological and physiological experience of the memory of war is never wholly extractable from Nick once he is wounded, just as it is not extractable from Hemingway. But in when he wrote it, it was not about the war. Nor did he say it was. Not in , not for many years.
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In , as the text of the original ending makes clear, it was about a young man fishing and learning to write and discovering his commitment to art. Just the straight fishing but ending finally with an unrealized half-lit and tragic fishing to come. Or is that deep-water, half-lit, tragic fishing a congeries of all those initial feelings about writing, deep within him, tragic with the exposed core of sentience he tells us he was experiencing— it was deadly serious, he felt almost holy about it —feelings with which he was not quite yet ready to cope?
The intentional and opaque ambivalences of the story—half-lit and tragic reflections themselves—will doubtless keep us fishing for another hundred years. New Street Communications, due mid-April, Cowley, Malcolm. New York: Viking, ; rpt. Robert P. Englewood Cliffs, N.
Flora, Joseph M. Hemingway, Ernest. Josephs, Allen. Moddelmog, Debra A. Benson, Ed.