Untitled

I got an email from a reader offering to send me one of the books on my list. Since I hadn’t read it, I accepted and sent her my home address. A few days later it arrived with a note: “Hi! I hope you enjoy this more than I did. If, not don’t give up on Hemingway, ‘The Sun Also Rises’ was a really great book. Happy reading. Connie.”

Well, Connie, I haven’t given up. A Farewell To Arms was by no means a terrible novel. Nor was it an incredible novel. Mostly, it was just good. I haven’t quite figured out what all the fuss about Hemingway(‘s writing) is. It’s good. It’s got style. It’s poignant yet unemotional. It’s no frills and thus it seems his works may work best under the surface. It is said that Hemingway has done more to change the English-language novel than any other twentieth-century writer. I can vouch for or against that statement, I can only say I enjoy his style. Equally, I enjoyed the novel but it’s not worth all the commotion. I likely will not read it again.

A Farewell To Arms is simply a story of love during war-time (ignoring most of the political complexities, thank god). An overdone idea, but one that is fairly fresh to me, so that aspect didn’t wear on me.

After having read the last word of this novel I thought to myself, “That was just a sad story. A sad and crude story.” And it was. It was unrefined and raw and that’s the way I liked it. However, this sparseness led to little character development. And for much of the story I thought of the two main characters, Henry and Catherine, as shallow and somewhat infantile. Their relationship seemed so lovey-dovey as to be artificial. It seemed phony. But after a while, I realized their love was actually thin only to begin with. He was war-torn and she was damaged. However, the war brought on a healthy co-dependency, between the two. They ended up genuinely needing each other and their conversations became endearing and earnest. And by the end of the novel I was proven wrong.

Thanks Connie.

We went on down the road. It was dark now and the snow squeaked under our boots. The night was dry and cold and very clear.
“I love your beard,” Catherine said, “It’s a great success. It looks so stiff and fierce and it’s very soft and a great pleasure.”
“Do you Like it better than without?”
“I think so. You know, darling, I’m not going to cut my hair now until after young Catherine’s born. I look too big and matronly now. But after she’s born and I’m thin again I’m going to cut it and then I’ll be a fine new and different girl for you. We’ll go together and get it cut, or I’ll go alone and come and surprise you.”
I did not say anything
“You won’t say I can’t will you?”
“No. I think it would be exciting.”
“Oh, you’re so sweet. And maybe I’d look lovely, darling, and be so thin and exciting to you and you’ll fall in love with me all over again.”
“Hell,” I said, “I love you enough now. What do you want to do? Ruin me?”
“Yes. I want to ruin you.”
“Good,” I said, “that’s what I want too.”

8 thoughts to “Untitled”

  1. “unrefined and raw” –
    as I understand it, ‘the big deal about hemingway’ is mainly that he pioneered that style of writing. he created a trademark narrative tone and syntax, somewhat like kerouac – not similar to kerouac, but as distinctively his.

    your reading list is basically what I think of as the extended required reading for american high school & college (if it were possible). not that it’s immature at all, just that I wish I’d read all of it by the time I’d got my BA.

  2. I think love in the time of war and turmoil is bound to be kind of codependent, brought on by great trauma, and requiring great drama.

    Hhhmm..not sure if what I just said was really deep, but it certainly rhymed!

  3. erin – yeah, apparently his style “changed everything”. i think there are authors who have admitedly mimicked his style who do it better than he does though (bukowski). you gotta be kidding, all those before your four year degree! only if your an english major. i’ve had librarians who have commented on that post that have read less than half of them.

    lotus – that was kinda my point. there love would not have worked if the war wasn’t happening (in the novel Catherines fiance dies in the war, leaving an opening in her heart for Henry). your a poet and…

  4. oof, there’s a lot of Forster on that book list. Just a warning, he can be pretty s…l…o…w. As can Henry James. oy.

    If you liked Native Son, you’re gonna *love* Invisible Man. And Toni Morrison is one of my favorite authors… I would read Song of Solomon first, then Beloved, then Jazz. But read some other books in between so you don’t get Morrison overload.

    …don’t mind me, I was an English major.

  5. lux – i’ve heard the invisible man was really good. yeah i have to split it up, i used to read like 3 or 4 books by one author consecutivly but i’ve stopped that. Although it was a good way to get a feel for the authors style.

  6. HEMMINGWAY WAS A DRUNK, AND HE WROTE LIKE A DRUNK. THE PUNCTUATION HE USES (OR LACK OF) CONTRADICTS EVERYTHING I HAVE LEARNED IN MY WRITING CLASS. THE ONLY REMOTELY NOVEL THING ABOUT A FAREWELL TO ARMS IS THE CONCEPT OF LOVE AND WAR. IF HEMMINGWAY IS A CLASSIC, THERE’S HOPE FOR THE REST OF US YET!

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