October 8, 2012

A Farewell to Arms: The Hemingway Library Edition
Ernest Hemingway

All Good Writing is Rewriting -- Stories can end in one of four ways: triumph, defeat, stalemate or surrender. Ernest Hemingway tried them all in writing his masterpiece novel. This insightful edition, with introductions by Patrick Hemingway and Sean Hemingway, includes the 47 alternatives Ernest attempted. Among the alternatives was the one suggested by F. Scott Fitzgerald: to conclude with Hemingway's brilliant passage from Chapter 34, "If people bring so much courage to this world the world has to kill them to break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break, it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially." That would've made for one hell of an ending, a quite poetic ending -- a truly F. Scott Fitzgerald ending. But Hemingway ended with that now famous (and quintessentially Papa) ending: "But after I had got them out and shut the door and turned off the light it wasn't any good. 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." Perfect -- and true. This edition also features about 40 possible titles Hemingway weighed. Of course, Hemingway "got the words right" there, as well.

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