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bentley
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Hemingway and War

This may be a theme that could be explored. In reading the short story "Black Ass at the Crossroads" this theme regarding Hemingway as one of the writers on war emerged.

I think that we have come across a lot of commentary on war but maybe have not captured it anywhere. So I thought maybe opening up a thread to capture any thoughts folks might have on this topic might be useful..maybe.

Does anyone have any thoughts on how Hemingway really viewed war? Did he have such an abhorrent view of it or did it serve his sense of masculinity and his love of bragging of his exploits. Just curious, this seems to be an important theme that he has developed even beyond his short stories but also in his novels.
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fanuzzir
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Re: Hemingway and War



bentley wrote:
This may be a theme that could be explored. In reading the short story "Black Ass at the Crossroads" this theme regarding Hemingway as one of the writers on war emerged.

I think that we have come across a lot of commentary on war but maybe have not captured it anywhere. So I thought maybe opening up a thread to capture any thoughts folks might have on this topic might be useful..maybe.

Does anyone have any thoughts on how Hemingway really viewed war? Did he have such an abhorrent view of it or did it serve his sense of masculinity and his love of bragging of his exploits. Just curious, this seems to be an important theme that he has developed even beyond his short stories but also in his novels.


Great start. Of course Farewell to Arms, Sun Also Rises and For Whom the Bell Tolls are war novels, but I haven't made an accounting of the war short stories yet. Can anyone get us started?
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bentley
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Re: Hemingway and War

Bob thanks.

Black Ass at the Crossroads fits the bill and all of the chapters in the Nick Adams stories do as well (the little vignettes prior to the stories)for starters..and since I have not read all of the stories..then there may be more that I am not aware of.
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bentley
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Re: Hemingway and War

Guess also Landscapes with Figures (Spanish Civil War)
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bentley
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Re: Hemingway and War (Landscape with Figures)

The last line in this story is a very powerful one.

Johnny says, "In a war we must all be careful not to hurt each other's feelings."

What does everyone else thing of this line. It is strange in some ways because in a war people are being killed and hurt in ways that can't be altered or undone and yet Hemingway is focusing/commenting on "feelings".
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zman
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Re: Hemingway and War (Landscape with Figures)

I haven't read many of the war stories yet, but it would seem to me that Hemingway focuses on the narrative of the "little guy", the soldier, the ambulance driver (as he was), etc. He also appears to focus on the human tragedy of war as opposed to the glory.

I find the line "In a war we must all be careful not to hurt each other's feelings" deeply and intentionally sardonic.
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ELee
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Re: Hemingway and War (Landscape with Figures)

zman wrote:
"I haven't read many of the war stories yet, but it would seem to me that Hemingway focuses on the narrative of the "little guy", the soldier, the ambulance driver (as he was), etc. He also appears to focus on the human tragedy of war as opposed to the glory.

I find the line "In a war we must all be careful not to hurt each other's feelings" deeply and intentionally sardonic."

zman,
I don't argue with your last statement but looking at the last sentence alone, without the story, I had another thought. There are usually two different entities involved in the act of war: those who initiate/declare it on a national/governmental level and those individuals who are actually called upon to fight it. One person cannot "hurt the feelings" of an opposing government - it is too impersonal. But some sort of code can be upheld by individuals on the battlefield. Hemingway, with his admiration for "grace under pressure", probably would have also valued an code of honor.
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zman
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Re: Hemingway and War (Landscape with Figures)

Indeed, that's what the Geneva Conventions are all about. As with most Hemingway, a number of different meanings can be read into any given line.
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bentley
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Re: Hemingway and War (Landscape with Figures)

[ Edited ]
The girl said, "I can't see anymore. The tears were running down her cheeks and her face was working. I had never seen her cry before and we had seen many things you could cry about if you were going to cry. In a war everybody of all ranks including generals cries at some time or another. This is true, no matter what people tell you, but it is to be avoided and is avoided, and I had not seen the girl doing it before.

She said, "It's horrible. It's the first time I've ever seen it. It's really horrible. Edwin said, "It always has been." She said, "Don't you hate it?" Edwin answered,"I hate it and I always have hated it. But when you have to do it you ought to know how. That was a frontal attack. They are just murder."

The above quotes deal with EH's view on war and to a certain degree to a woman seeing war for the first time. What views does anybody else have concerning EH's feelings/views? I believe he is saying that everyone breaks down over what they see in war. What is there about war that appeals to men and why are countries bent on declaring war if they have seen it up close and personal? EH sounds like a person convinced that war is necessary but hateful (I am wondering how this view perpetuates itself not just with Hemingway).

Message Edited by bentley on 02-21-200708:32 PM

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bentley
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Re: Hemingway and War (Writers on War)

Back somewhere in the thread I recommended the Writers on War forum that anybody can listen to (Kennedy Libary - WGBH I think).

Doctor Sean Hemingway (EH's grandson) wrote a book called Hemingway and War and one of the exerpts he chose to read was one from a book called Treasure for the Free World. These are EH's last comments that we have from him personally about WWII and the Japanese mainland bombings. It is particulary powerful considering when it was written and the climate of the world today. Any thoughts or comments? The url has already been cited elsewhere by me.

"We have waged war in the most ferocious and ruthless way that has ever been waged. We waged it against fierce and ruthless enemies that it was necessary to destroy. Now we have destroyed one of our enemies and forced the capitulation of the other. For the moment, we are the strongest power in the world. It is very important that we do not become the most hated.

"We need to study and understand certain basic problems of our world as they were before Hiroshima to be able to continue intelligently to discover how some of them have changed and how they can be settled now that a new weapon has become a property of part of the world.

"We must study them more carefully than ever now and remember that no weapon has ever settled a moral problem. It can impose a solution, but it cannot guarantee it to be a just one. An aggressive war is the great crime against everything good in the world. A defensive war, which must necessarily turn aggressive at the earliest moment is the great countercrime.

"We never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified is not a crime. Ask the infantry and the dead."
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bentley
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Re: Hemingway and War (Back to Black Ass at the Crossroads)

Discussed the title already...and have now completed the short story. If you have not read this story then you might not want to read any further.

According to the details, this story was written by EH between the end of World War II and 1961.

EH appeared in this story to be the leader of a resistance group who were killing Germans as they were making their escape. It is a violent story full of blood and gore.

Some of the scenes are ones that might give you nightmares.

Germans on bicycles, tanks etc (all trying to make their escape) are purposely gunned down and/or boobytrapped. They even kill by accident a Frenchman mistaken as a German. The cash and the valuables are split among them.

It was so messy that the storyteller never watched the clean up. "I never watched the cleaning up unless I had to take part in it myself. Watching the cleaning up is bad for you. It is no worse for me than for anyone else. But I was in command." Being in command obviously had its perk and not having to clean up the human fallout from these boobytraps was one of them.

EH calls it what it was and is not pulling any punches. He says, "We were set up for a simple job of assassination astride an escape route."

He viewed the Germans as splendid soldiers, boy scouts who were as cooperative as head waiters or minor diplomats. EH knew that his group were not splendid soldiers; they were simply specialists in a dirty trade. There were images of butterflies eating blood...and frankly offensive references to the war. Claude calls it a "dirty whore of a war." Nothing was easy reading in this short story.

The group killed an innocent (the Frenchman) and basically covered it up. Killing was a normal part of their day and their life.
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fanuzzir
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Re: Hemingway and War (Landscape with Figures)



bentley wrote:
The last line in this story is a very powerful one.

Johnny says, "In a war we must all be careful not to hurt each other's feelings."

What does everyone else thing of this line. It is strange in some ways because in a war people are being killed and hurt in ways that can't be altered or undone and yet Hemingway is focusing/commenting on "feelings".




Thank you for finding this line. It expresses so much of Hemingway's ideal of old-fashioned gallantry. There is the intentional conflict between the savage barbarity of war and the delicate feelings of sensitive people; the conflict is meant to highlight the deliberate, simple expression of human decency. It really is what Hemingway felt about war: that it required a man's firm hold on his manners, and his chivalric ideals.
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bentley
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Re: Hemingway and War (Landscape with Figures)

No problem. Thank you for your explanation and your helpful comments. Appreciated.
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bentley
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Re: Hemingway and War (The Denunciation and The Butterful and the Tank)

Please feel free to begin discussion of these two (2) war short stories. I have not yet read either one of them...but will be doing it shortly. The Writers on War forum at the Kennedy Library mentioned both of these stories.


The Denunciation
The Butterfly and the Tank
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bentley
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Re: Hemingway and War (The Denunciation and The Butterful and the Tank)

FYI:

There is a set of five stories written during the Spanish Civil War. They were "The Denunciation", "The Butterfly and the Tank", "Night Before Battle", "Under The Ridge" and "Nobody Ever Dies").

All of the above were collected in a posthumous 1969 volume.

Chicote's bar and the Hotel Florida in Madrid are recurrent settings in these stories
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