B.H. Liddell-Hart, Battle of Caporetto, Battle of Karfreit, Buergermeister Stuttgart, Chateau Margaux, Desert Fox, Ernest Hemingway and A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway wives, Erwin Rommel, Gary Cooper, Gregory Hemingway aka Gloria Hemingway, Gruet Winery, Helen Hayes, Hemingway AND suicide, Hemingway Home, Key West Florida, Kobarid Slovenia, Manfred Rommel, Margaux Hemingway, Mayor of Stuttgart, Miami Edison High, Michael Palin Monty Python, Pauline Pfeiffer, Rock Hudson, Santa Fe New Mexico, suicides, The Rommel Papers, Twelfth Battle of the Isonzo
Amongst all the artistically-inclined people one thinks of as both decisive and plain-spoken, surely Ernest Hemingway is somewhere near the top of that list.
On the other hand, in matters of amour, he seems to have been decisively indecisive, finally marrying a mere quartet of women.
Don’t most of us chaps quite happily settle for one, or, say, two, at most?
(I speak here in terms of marriages in sequence, not plural marriage, as we are nowadays taught to call such bonkers bank-breaking behavior).
That said, one of the most revealing evenings I’ve ever spent was with my lady wife and her former Miami Edison High School classmate.
A very pleasant couple sat across from us in a charming adobe house-turned-restaurant in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Perhaps the altitude had something to do with the romantic magic of the place. One is, after all, in the high desert mountains at 2,134m (7,000 feet).
After a couple of bottles of Gruet, the 19th Century French émigrés producers of New Mexico’s finest examples of the vinicultural arts, this ex-Miami gal allowed that the gent next to her was Husband Number Seven!
What followed was her ushering all of us down her sometimes too-detailed memory lane. She detailed the perfections and flaws of the previous six claimants to ‘my husband’, words which jangled somewhat loosely in her lexicon.
By comparison, this gal leaves poor Ernest looking much less the cad than he may well have been.
In any case, his own indecision has just been laid bare in the latest edition of his 1929 masterpiece A Farewell To Arms.
The reader is now privy to all 47 endings with which Ernest Hemingway struggled in a new edition published last month.
Ernest Hemingway wrote 47 endings to A Farewell To Arms
The Nobel Prize-winning American author, talking to The Paris Review in 1958, two years before he shot himself at the age of 61, admitted that the final words of A Farewell to Arms, his semi-autobiographical novel about events during the Italian campaigns of World War I in the ambulance corps, had been rewritten “39 times before I was satisfied”.
Now the New York Times is reporting that a new edition of the novel will include all the alternate endings, along with early drafts of other passages in the book, which will appear after an agreement between Hemingway’s estate and Scribner (an imprint of Simon & Schuster). The real number of different endings is 47, something discovered by Seán Hemingway after studying the author’s collected writings at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston.
When he was asked by Paris Review interviewer George Plimpton what had been the reason for so many endings, Hemingway replied: “Getting the words right”.
Hemingway also compiled a list of alternate titles, including Love in War, World Enough and Time, Every Night and All, Of Wounds and Other Causes and The Enchantment, which Hemingway had crossed out. The final title, A Farewell To Arms, is taken from a 16th-century poem by English dramatist George Peele to Queen Elizabeth.
The endings, including one suggested by F Scott Fitzgerald, are in an appendix in the new 330-page edition, whose cover bears the novel’s original artwork, an illustration of topless lovers, by illustrator Rockwell Kent.
The ending that survived Hemingway’s revisions, about the death of Frederic Henry’s lover, the nurse Catherine Barkley, was:
“It was like saying good-by to a statue. After a while I went out and left the hospital and walked back to the hotel in the rain.”
Among the 47 finales tried out by Hemingway was the so-called ‘Nada Ending’
“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.”
and The ‘Live-Baby Ending:
“There is no end except death and birth is the only beginning.”
Incidentally, Hemingway’s ending to A Farewell To Arms caused consternation when it was made into a film in 1932. Paramount decided, after much disagreement, to keep Hemingway’s original ending and fade out after the death of Catherine. This ending was kept for the European release, but a new ending, in which she lives, was later added to the American release.
For those who read this but who have forgotten the details, or for those who have yet to read it, Farewell is a war novel set in Italy and Switzerland during ‘The Great War’ or World War I, 1915–1918.
It is written in the first-person. Frederic Henry is the narrator. Frederic is, in many ways, the autobiographical persona of Hemingway himself.
The antagonist is the military system, including the enemy troops of Austria and Germany, the chaotically-‘organized’(sic) Italian army, and the ruthless military police.
Italy, the nation with whose army Frederic Henry is involved, joined the war in 1915.
The Italians’ main strategic goal was to prevent German troops from reinforcing Austrian troops on the eastern front.
The most historically significant event depicted in the novel is the Italian retreat (read: rout) that took place following the Battle of Caporetto.
Caporetto is also known as the Twelfth Battle of the Isonzo or the Battle of Karfreit, as it was known by the Central Powers (Slovenian: Čudež pri Kobaridu).
The battle raged from 24 October to 19 November 1917, near the town of Kobarid (in what is now Slovenia) on the Austro-Italian front of World War I.
The battle was named after the Italian name for Kobarid (known as Karfreit in German) on 24 October 1917.
Italian losses were enormous: 11,000 were killed, 20,000 wounded and 265,000 were taken prisoner.
Morale was so low amongst the Italian troops, mainly due to General Cadorna’s harsh disciplinary regime, that most of these surrendered willingly.
Furthermore, roughly 3,000 guns, 3,000 machine guns and 2,000 mortars were captured, along with an untold amount of stores and equipment.
A young officer whose name years later would typify military tactical genius, Erwin Rommel, then an Oberleutnant or Captain, captured 1,500 men and 43 officers.
[Rommel in The North African campaign]
What were the overwhelming forces and arrays of firepower Rommel employed in order to accomplish this historically significant feat ?
Uhm, ah, not so much.
How about 3 riflemen and 2 officers to help.
The ‘Desert-Fox-to-be’ was decidedly pretty foxy even when out of the desert, or as this bit of military magic adequately demonstrates.
The Italian Army had also lost 3,152 artillery pieces of a pre-battle total of 6,918.
An additional 1,712 heavy trench mortars and 3,000 machine guns had been captured or abandoned in the retreat, along with vast amounts of other military equipment, especially as the rapid withdrawal had prevented the removal of heavy weapons and equipment across the Isonzo River.
In contrast, the attackers had sustained about 70,000 casualties.
Hemingway’s own injury in World War I (as an ambulance driver, not as a combatant) resembled that suffered by Henry in A Farewell to Arms.
Ex-Monty Python actor and comedian Michael Palin did a wonderful piece for the BBC on Hemingway and the battle site, of which this a simply a quick taster, if you will:
(If this does not play, my apologies. Kindly click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eGPoHUDdhtk)
Hemingway also had a brief affair with a nurse during his own recovery.
The book’s climax is the death of the lovely Catherine Barkley during childbirth.
Hemingway wrote Farewell in 1929 while living in an airy, spacious home in Key West, Florida. He was then married to his second wife, an Iowa-born beauty, the former Pauline Pfeiffer, whose parents by then lived in Arkansas.
My first and only visit to the home, now a wonderful museum, was with my bride as a newly-wed.
As it happens, the sole lady-docent on duty at the time happened to be a friend of Pauline’s and knew her family in Arkansas.
Pauline Pfeiffer Hemingway spent the rest of her life in the house in Key West. She died in 1951, some or perhaps many say due to shock.
Shock, you say? Well, yes, just perhaps. Try this on for size. It seems her son Gregory (aka ‘Gloria’) had been arrested earlier that day.
Why? Dressed in his female persona, he was caught entering the ladies loo in a theater.
If that didn’t kill her, it is also recalled that she’d received a phone call from then ex-husband Ernest the same day.
A telephonic coup de grace? Who knows.
A Farewell to Arms has been adapted for film three times: the 1932 Gary Cooper film was nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award.
[Gary Cooper and Helen Hayes]
The 1957 remake starring… Rock Hudson?… got a Best Supporting Actor nomination.
Quite why any sensible Hollywood director would ask the, shall we say, less-than-manly Rock Hudson to play a part which Gary Cooper owns to this day I’ll never know.
(Thoughts of Gregory/Gloria do spring to mind again, do they not?)
The BBC produced offered a film version in the mid-90s which deservedly went nowhere in particular.
The Hemingways have often struck me as having lived their lives in ways quite reckless and oftentimes so emotionally wrought as to make one wonder if something wasn’t somehow genetically askew.
The men seem to have a dint towards self-destruction.
Some of us will recall when Ernest or ‘Papa’ put his mouth around his shotgun and pulled the trigger. That was at his home in Ketchum, Idaho.
His son, Gregory, went on to have gender-reassignment surgery and took ‘Gloria’ as his name. After battling alcoholism, drug abuse and manic depression, Gregory was arrested and died four days later of heart disease while lying on the floor of a cell in the women’s annex of Dade County Jail in Miami, Florida.
Dr. Clarence E. Hemingway, Ernest’s father, became so despondent about his own diabetes that he used his father’s War Between The States-era pistol to shoot himself. He was only 57 years old in 1928 when he committed the deed at his home in Oak Park (suburban Chicago) Illinois.
Almost exactly 35 years after Ernest Hemingway’s death, on 1 July 1996, his granddaughter, the memorably-named Margaux Hemingway committed suicide in California.
(Her parents decided that on the night she was conceived they had sampled heavily of a fine bottle of Chateau Margaux; hence, the name).
As a tragic marker, whether genetic or quite what one can’t say, Margaux became the fifth person in four generations of her family to commit suicide.
A farewell to mental balance or reason?
Hat tips to:
Speaking of amour and Rommel, although no wild romantic, anyone who is interested in the man as a map of what he will or can do and why would do well to note that throughout the North African campaign, almost every day Rommel wrote a short note to his beloved wife, Lu, and their son Manfred, who grew up to become Mayor of Stuttgart. If you have not read B.H. Liddell Hart’s The Rommel Papers, you should.
Martin Chilton, Culture Editor, The Daily Telegraph (London) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/booknews/9378446/Ernest-Hemingway-wrote-47-endings-to-A-Farewell-To-Arms.html
The latest revised version of A Farewell to Arms is available via Amazon here: Amazon USA Farewell site
If you’d like to watch ALL the 1932 Gary Cooper, Helen Hayes version of the film, it is here, with a running time of 78 minutes:
Santa Fe New Mexico Convention and Visitors Bureau, Twitter: @CityofSantaFe http://www.santafe.org/
If interested in the Farewell battlefield, visit the Slovenian Tourist Board, Twitter: @SloveniaInfo http://www.slovenia.info/?turisticni_ponudniki=6601&lng=2
Hemingway House Museum, 907 Whitehead Street, Key West, FL 33040, USA, Tel: +1.305.294.1136 http://www.hemingwayhome.com
Gruet Winery, Albuquerque, New Mexico. Twitter: @GruetWinery www.gruetwinery.com