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'A Farewell to Arms' and Hemingway protest stance: to tell the truth without screaming.

Hemingway's aesthetic connections to Henri Barbusse's Le Feu (Under Fire) have been virtually ignored by American critics. But Hemingway appropriated in A Farewell to Arms Barbusse's method of "constater," his technique of suspending protest in "poetry," and his creation of a distinctly modern anti-war consciousness. Hemingway's introduction to Men at War (1942), while providing a qualified appreciation of Le feu, commends Barbusse's courage not to scream or write of individual heroism but to describe ordinary men in the extraordinary circumstances of World War I:

The only good war book to come out during the last war was "Under Fire" by Henri Barbusse. He was the first to show us, the boys who went from school or college to the last war, that you could protest in anything besides poetry, the gigantic useless slaughter and lack of even elemental intelligence in generalship that characterized the Allied conduct of that war from 1915 to 1917 .... But when you came to read it over to try to take something permanent and representative from it the book did not stand up. Its greatest quality was his courage in writing it when he did.... [Barbusse] had learned to tell the truth without screaming. (MAW 9)

Le feu brought the French novel back from a focus on aestheticism to the realm of a contemporary realism, but a realism infused with a new form of war protest and social criticism.(1) The degree that Barbusse and Hemingway privilege protest forms is the degree to which both writers necessarily disrupt their own narrativity and that of any linear history of the Great War. By analyzing Le feu and Farewell in reference to the linguistic concept of intertextuality, I hope to demonstrate a neglected source of Hemingway's protest stance.(2)

The links between Hemingway and Barbusse are literary and biographical as well as intertextual. Like Hemingway, Barbusse began his writing career as a journalist (reporting in the 1890s for the Petit Parisien and Echo de Paris) and his literary career as a poet (publishing in 1895 a collection of poems, Pleureuses). Both writers experienced the Great War, but Barbusse saw more combat than Hemingway did, serving for 22 months on the French fronts at Soissonais, Argonne, and Artois. Both writers were invalided out. Barbusse began Le feu in a hospital in Chartres, where he was evacuated in January 1916, and finished it in a hospital in Plombieres, 3 August 1916. If Roger Asselineau is even partially correct in asserting that "all Hemingway's so-called techniques were merely the systemization of methods which had already been used in the past by French writers" (61), Barbusse's Le feu, particularly by reason of its relationship to Farewell, deserves further study.(3)

Le feu uses a technique for writing that Hemingway retrospectively described as his own in "The Art of the Short Story": "So I do what the French call constater [and] that is what you must learn to do" (6). In his "constater," Barbusse, as Leo Weinstein puts it, "never preaches. He lets the soldiers and facts speak for themselves, and only at the end of the novel do the results of those experiences burst spontaneously out ..." (71). "Constater," for Hemingway, involved a "boiling" down from which a condensed, authoritative, and "truthful" narrative emerges. But for both writers "constater" signaled a reappropriation of the "old words" of war propaganda and patriotism, carefully planned verbal patterns of protest (to elucidate the terms of the narrators' participation in the war), and a "poetic language" that includes what Ossip Brik has called a "transrational language."(4)

Le feu's "constater" was a corrective to the ineffectual war narratives of the time, which in France quickly began to appear hollow and unconvincing.(5) Barbusse, for example, avoiding the bombast of a Maurice Barres (Les bastions de l'est) or the "heroic race" descriptions of a Drieu la Rochelle (Gilles), depicts life in the trenches simply and accurately. Barbusse returned to his roots of rationalism and positivism in Le feu by saturating his narrative in the "authentic" (a reliance on the "constater") as a protest and "moral" expression. As Frank Fields has argued,

...the best way in which [Barbusse] could serve the cause of peace in 1915 was not so much by attempting to convince men of the validity of the intellectual arguments against the war but by expressing his sense of moral outrage at the events that were now taking, place in Europe, by depicting, in as authentic a way. as he could, the raw reality of the life at the front. It was by following this line of argument, therefore, that Barbusse came to produce Le feu. (Three 37)

In Le feu's last chapter, "L'aube,," Barbusse's "constater" underscores his mistrust of an abstract and highly conceptualized language. Barbusse condemns, for example, the words that frequently appeared in the patriotic verse of the time:

Mais la gloire militaire, ce n'est meme pas vrai pour nous autres, simples soldats. Elle est pour quelques-uns, mais en dehors de ces elus, la gloire du soldat est un mensonge comme tout ce qui a l'air d'etre beau dans la guerre. (376)

Je leur dis que la fraternite est un reve, un sentiment nuageux, inconsistant; qu'il est contraire a l'homme de hair un inconnu ... (369)(6)

But in the closing paragraphs of "L'aube," after his book-long chronicle of "la monotonie accablante et meurtriere des tranchees," and for the common soldiers "une sorte de fatalisme de la resignation ou du desespoir" (Para 10), Barbusse attempts to give a new representational function to the formerly "deceitful" words ("la verite," "espoir," "force," "courage"):

Mais leurs yeux sont ouverts. Ils commencent a se rendre compte de la simplicite sans bornes des choses. Et la verite non seulement met en eux une aube d'espoir, mais aussi y batit un recommencement de force et de courage.

- Aasez parler des autres! commanda l'un d'eux. Tant pis pour les autres! ... Nous! Nous tous! ... (377-8)(7)

Because here the "old" words come from the voices and consciousness of the "simple soldats," "constater" takes a more forceful protest form: its targets are now the war profiteers and the immense suffering of "la multitude, invisible et silencieux" (Carnet 458).

In Farewell's "constater," Frederic likewise condemns "abstract words such as glory, honor, courage, or hallow [which] were obscene beside the concrete names of villages, the numbers of roads, the names of rivers, the numbers of regiments and the dates" (191). But echoing Le feu's alternative to the "old" signifiers, Farewell ambiguously slides from one representational paradigm to another. Frederic's desertion, subsequent arrival in Milan, and making of his "separate peace" lead to a new appropriation of the "obscene" words.(8) Words such as "courage," "good," "gentle," and "brave" are now applied to the (ostracized, defeated) victims of war, and thereby, for Frederic, lose their former meanings:

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 everyone and afterwards 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. (258-9, my emphasis)

For the first time in Farewell, Frederic uses such terms unironically, appropriately enough after his escape in which "anger was washed away in the river along with any obligation" (240). From this point on in Farewell the protest exfoliates towards the conspiratorial "they" and "the world," a protest, though, now containing the newly valorized words. Through such social and linquistic representations, Hemingway's dark vision is thus, at least temporarily, transformed into a veritable mode of "re-seeing." On this level, in the full modernist problematic of "the precariousness of the links between the traditional forms of representations and the eroding relations of representativeness" (Weimann 442), both texts (extraordinarily) appropriate the dominant language of war propaganda and politics.

But a buildup of protest precedes the reappropriation. Le feu's first chapter, "La vision," sets a pattern of protest that Hemingway follows in Farewell. Barbusse, for instance, constantly shifts from lyrical descriptions of nature to the impending or actual destructions of landscape:

Les etendues calmes du vallon orne de villages roses comme des rose et de paturages veloutes, les taches magnifiques des montagnes, la dentelle noire des sapins et la dentelle blanche des neiges eternelles, se peuplent d'un remuement humain. (2-3)

The next paragraph in "La vision" provides a graphic contrast:

Des multitudes fourmillent par masses distinctes. Sur des champs, des assauts, vague par vague, se propagent, puis s'immobilisent, des maisons sont eventrees comme des hommes, et des villes comme des maisons, des villages apparaissent en blancheurs emiettees comme s'ils etaient tombes du ciel sur la terre, des chargements de morts et des blesses epouvantables changent la forme des plaines. (3)(9)

The pattern continually repeats itself, either at the beginning of a chapter, as in Two ("le grand ciel pale," 6), Three ("l'aube grisatre," 51), or Nineteen ("l'immensite de la brume," 222), or functioning within a given chapter, as in Five (67-68), Twelve (159), Fourteen (184), or Twenty-four (352-53). Barbusse's characteristic pattern sets up a double-voiced discourse that simultaneously rejects the purpose of war as it accepts the reality of war's intrusion.

Farewell follows a similar formula, as seen in Frederic's description of the Austrian mountains at the end of Chapter Eight:

Then, as the road mounted along the ridge, I saw a third range of mountains, higher snow mountains, that looked chalky white and furrowed, with strange planes, and then there were mountains far off beyond all these that you could hardly tell if you really saw. Those were all the Austrians' mountains and we had nothing like them. (47)

The next scene provides a sharp contrast with a landscape blighted by the encroaching forces:

Ahead there was a rounded turn-off in the road to the right and looking down I could see the road dropping through the trees. There were troops on this road and motor trucks and mules with mountain guns and as we went down, keeping to the side, I could see the river far down below, the line of ties and rails running along it, the old bridge where the railway crossed to the other side and across, under a hill beyond the river, the broken houses of the little town that was to be taken. (47)

The alternate scenes of uninhabited or untouched nature and nature destroyed by war recur, for example, in Chapters Two (5-6), Three (10), Eight (46-47), Twenty-seven (191), and in all chapters involving troop movements (Twenty-eight, Twenty-nine), or the results of a battle (Thirty). Asserted in these patterns, both novels suggest that the condition of a nature destroyed further diminishes the self, and that the silence of nature, while inducing a deferential respect in the survivors, serves the memory of the victims.

Barbusse's descriptions of untouched nature shifting to the effects of war on nature also work on the sentence level. The immense stillness of "des somptueuses prairies ou luisent doucement les vaches vernisses, et les bois noirs, et les champs verts, et les distances bleues" cannot hold back the "storm" of war:

Mais quand le soir se prepare a venir dans la vallee, un orage eclate sur le massif du Mont-Blanc.

Arreter la guerre! disent-ils. Arreter les orages! (4)(10)

Hemingway's protests also work at the sentence level. When Frederic, for example, returns to the front at the beginning of Chapter Three, the phrase "and spring had come" is appended to the description of "many more guns in the country around" (12). In Chapter Three, Hemingway furthers his pattern of protest by condensing his descriptive contrasts of nature (A) and war (B) in these consecutive sentences:

A) I saw the town with the hill and the old castle above it in a cup in the hills with the mountains beyond, brown mountains with a little green on their slopes.

B) In the town there were more guns, there were some new hospitals, you met British men and sometimes women, on the street, and a few more houses had been hit by shell fire.

A) It was warm and like the spring and I walked down the alleyway of trees, warmed from the sun on the wall, and found we still lived in the same house and that it all looked the same as when I had left it.

B) The door was open, there was a soldier sitting on a bench outside in the sun, an ambulance was waiting by the side door and inside the door, as I went in, there was the smell of marble floors and hospital. (10)

To end the pattern, Hemingway conflates in a single sentence Frederic's sense of helplessness ("It was all as I had left it ...") with the fact that "now it was spring" (10). As in Le feu, the truth-telling protest draws its power from syntactical patterns of perception and moral imagination. Hemingway's "extraordinary, actuality" (Stevens 411), his technique of making every act, dialogue, or event seem urgently portentous, depends on these carefully crafted sentences.

Reading Farewell as a protest narrative depends, however, on the reader refusing to consider the text as a single unit and its constituent parts as objects in themselves. Rather, as an intertextual approach insists, "every text is a network of texts, replete with echoes of earlier texts, with no necessarily isolable locus of value or meaning" (Payne and Fleming 12). For Farewell Le feu is an important part of this network: a prototype of a genre that remains important and a chronicle, however structurally flawed, that does not scream.

Serviceable to another form of protest in both novels is a primary organizing principle of Modernism: the awareness of not only the narrator as the lyrical subject, but also of the provisional or hypothetical nature of his or her point of view. This dynamic is evidenced in the pronominal shifts of both novels. In Le feu, the shifts begin in Chapter Two, where the narrator changes from the first person pronoun "I" ("Je vois des ombres emerger de ces puits lateraux..." 7) to the collective "we" ("Nous sommes emmitoufles a la maniere des populations artiques. ..." 7). The rest of the novel is essentially devoted to identifying the "we," beginning with the questions "Nos ages?," "Nos races?," "nos metiers?" (16-18). But the narrator frequently shifts from the "we" to the "I" as a kind of stepping back device, both to report the devastation of war and to separate himself from it. (Hemingway's "I/you" pronominal shifts, as we shall see, serve a similar purpose.) Through these shifts the narrator of Le feu becomes part of a larger, gradually defined group. Thus as individual identities are brought to the foreground, a rejection of the war solidifies, and a common enemy emerges:

... [T]ous ces gens-la qui ne peuvent pas ou veulent pas faire la paix sur la terre; tous ces gens-la, qui se cramponnent, pour une cause ou pour une autre, a l'etat de choses ancien, lui trouvent des raisons ou lui donnent, ceux-la sont vos ennemis! (375) (11)

Le feu concludes, as does Farewell with its conspiratorial "they," that the isolated "ils," or "tous ces gens-la," are responsible for the causes and conditions of war. The point of view in both novels provides a tension between an abstract rendering of the war and war as a composite of the experiencing self. Both notions reinforce a similar artistic position: the modernist outlook "that views art entirely in terms of its making and the literal results of that making" (Kuspit 51).

Farewell essentially inverts the pronominal shifts of Le feu while consistently maintaining its protest form. The first chapter begins with the pronoun "we," identifying presumably those who live in that "house in a village" (3). The first shift in narrative voice takes place in Chapter Two, where the focus narrows to Frederic's individual responses and feelings. In Chapters Three and Four there is some vacillation between the "I" and "we" but in succeeding chapters the "I" eventually dominates. Several critics have interpreted the pronominal shifts as an issue of Frederic's "uncertain identity" or Hemingway's deliberate "opacity," or as a deferral and multiplication of Frederic's "identities."(12)

While these interpretations appear valid, I would rather stress, as. an additional protest pattern, aspects of the "I/you" and the "you/they" pronominal shifts. Just prior to his desertion at the end of Chapter Thirty, Frederic states, "They [the Italian battle police] were all young men and they were saving their country" (233) and then comments on the executions: "The questioners had that beautiful detachment and devotion to stern justice of men dealing in death without being in any danger of it" (233). (Barbusse essentially makes the same argument in "L'aube," preceding the symbolic "desertion" of the French soldiers from the collective cause, 376.) Significantly, the pronominal shift from "I" to "you" occurs during Frederic's desertion: "You do not know how long you are in a river when the current moves Swiftly" (235) and then, in Chapter Thirty-two, intensifies in relation to his resolve to "abandon" the war completely: "you" appears as a subject, for example, eight times in the third paragraph in this pivotal chapter.

The "I/you" pronominal shift occurs most frequently when Frederic either wants to remember or reject something. He wishes to remember, for example, his time with Catherine in a Milan hospital ("... you would hear the ice against the pail ... it was dark afterward and you went to the window," (39), my emphasis). But "you" as a subject (and verbal device of Frederic's contemplations) is most effectively used in protest form. After escaping from the battle police, and boarding a train to Milan, Frederic/the narrator makes the "I/you" pronominal shift:

You saw emptily, lying on your stomach, having been present when one army moved back and another came forward. You had lost your cars and your men as a floorwalker loses the stock of his department in a fire. There was, however, no insurance. You were out of it now. You had no more obligation. (241)

The "you" indicates Frederic's belief that he can share his loss of identity as a soldier and separate himself from the war. But he also comments on the absurdity of war ("having been present when one army moved back and another came forward") and the impossibility of the individual (the "I") to make any kind of substantive difference.

The most emphatic use of the pronominal shift occurs in the last chapter, where Frederic, following the shift, combines the "you" with the conspiratorial they":

Now Catherine would die. That was what you did. You died. You did not know what it was about. You never had time to learn. They threw you in and told you the rules and the first time they caught you off base they killed you. Or they killed you gratuitously like Aymo. Or gave you syphilis like Rinaldi. But they killed you in the end. You could count on that. Stay around and they would kill you. (338)

As in Le feu, Farewell ends with the (more subtle) assertion that there is a terrible injustice perpetrated by those ("they") who do not feel its effects. The real enemies, as in Le feu, are inexplicable suffering and death, and a socio-political system that allows war to take place. Farewell, in this way, asserts its intertextuality and partially defines itself through the patterned presence of elements from the earlier Le feu.

But Hemingway goes beyond these protest patterns in Farewell to permeate the text with a distinctly "poetic language."(13) To put it another way, Farewell is a response in poetic essences against the traditional realistic war novel, against a realism inadequate for creating a "modern" protest narrative. Critics have commented extensively on how the language in Farewell is based on the rhythms of speech and a metaphysical precision of detail. However, in Farewell the language also inhabits a wider "language of essences," and is predicated on "a substitution of the image for the world" (Bonnefoy 126). Evincing in its cumulative effect a "larger picture" of protest, the language creates a succession of episodic, self-directed details rather than a realistic version of chronology. As James Nagel has recently observed, Farewell is fundamentally not a realistic narrative about World War I, but needs to be "tempered by a fresh reading of the novel as a work of art" (171). Frederic's voice, and his purpose for telling his story, emphasize much more than "coming to terms emotionally with the events" (Nagel 171). By objecting to the real effects of war, the voice constantly relies on protest images, creating a certain durational rhythm that goes far beyond the personal.

Self-negating capsules of nostalgia for an untouched and unchanging, present, the poetic protests in Le feu and Farewell elucidate the humanity of their subjects and the inhumanity of war. In Le feu, Barbusse, prefacing his first dialogue, and thereafter employing a poetic frame, introduces his subject:

Peu a peu, les hommes se detachment des profondeurs. Dans les coins, on voit de l'ombre dense se former, puis ces nuages humains se remuent, se fragmentent... On les reconnait un a un. (8)(14)

Part of a system generated by the narrator within the specific social and historical fields of war, this framing device is used to describe the beginning or end of a time period ("Le crepuscule du soir arrivait du cote de la campagne. Une brise douce, douce comme des paroles, l'accompagnait," 139), an action (229-30), or an event (239). The poetic language in both novels complements the "constater" of the warring soldiers, thereby liberating the subject of protest from any number of linguistic, social, and political categories. It generally forms, as Brik has emphasized, a transrational language that subverts the idea that poetic function must be limited to poetry, or that poetry must be restricted to the poetic function.(15)

Before introducing characters or presenting dialogue, Hemingway protests through his poetic descriptions. As in Le feu, the forces of nature reveal the location of the soldiers going to war:

The forest of oak trees on the mountain beyond the town was gone. The forest had been green in the summer when we had come into the town but now there were the stumps and the broken trunks and the ground torn up, and one day at the end of the fall when I was out where the oak forests had been I saw a cloud coming over the mountain. It came very fast and the sun went a dull yellow and then everything was grey and the sky was covered and the cloud came on down the mountain and suddenly we were in it and it was snow. (6)

Hemingway resorts to this (prefatory) device of poetic language, standing in opposition to functional description or spoken language in, for example, Chapters Two (5-6), Three (10), Eleven (71), and Twenty-five (169). Hemingway, like Barbusse, thus reinforces the ambiguity of thought and reason for war (disruption is a confirmation of authenticity) while commenting on the degradation of war's effects.

Le feu is in fact a protest that uses language to realize the possibilites inherent in a "poetic language." Often dismissed as a mere political tract, Le feu, as Tobin H. Jones has argued, "is richest in its implications as an artistic and social statement when studied from a literary rather than an ideological perspective" (217). Barbusse's war experiences take the form of a poeticity - depicting of "truth" as a series of images or impressions and substituting "mythical" for "realistic" descriptions. To create his poetic effect, Barbusse frequently combines natural and military imagery:

Les autres hommes de garde, promenant leurs regards braques dans l'espace, contemplent deux avions ennemis et l'echeveau embrouille de leurs lacis. Autour des oiseaux mecaniques et rigides, qui suivent le jeu des rayons, apparaissent dans les hauteurs, tantot noirs comme des corbeaux, tantot blancs comme des mouettes - des multitudes d'eclatements de shrapnells pointillent l'azur et semblent une longue volee de flacons de neige dans le beau temps. (89)(16)

Le feu and Farewell are similarly concerned with the presence of a poetic language (be it French nineteenth-century Symbolist poetry, characterized by specific mythic traditions, or a prose imbued with the devices of Anglo-Modernist poetry). The lyricism of both novels not only envelops the immense sadness and injustice of the war but, informed by the drives of Frederic and the soldiers of the 231st regiment, serves as a boundary, a barrier, a temporary resistance to it. Poetic language is the reason why these authors came up with similar views of the war and similar ways of presenting those views.

As stated in the introduction to Men at War, Le feu showed Hemingway that a cogent, conclusive protest could only take the form of "poetry." This aesthetic, of course, never left him, for he constantly returned to the idea that the novelist, regardless of his or her intention, must begin with poetry:(17)

Nobody really knows or understands and nobody has ever said the secret. The secret is that it is poetry written into prose and it is the hardest of all things to do .... (In On Writing 4)

Although Le feu is hardly a major literary precursor to Farewell and its importance is minor in the canon of Hemingway influences, the French novel is significant for the development of Hemingway's technique of protest against the Great War.(18) Barbusse and Hemingway, journalists instilled in the literary traditions of naturalism and symbolism, realized that the truth of their personal experiences would best be rendered atemporally. Words and their composition must not be mere representations of the objects named, or indifferent references to reality, but must acquire a value, a weight of their own.

Thus, in their episodic forms Le feu and Farewell follow documentable origins, but are not "realistic" or journalistic accounts. Hemingway and Barbusse give their novels chronological order without stressing causal, spatio-temporal relationships among the events. In the process, they create a world of suffering and absurdity in which natural events and humanity's irrational actions collide. Both novels demand that the reader move to an intuitive, atemporal mode of inquiry in order to understand the protest patterns and language of this world. Hemingway, perhaps after all, did "take something permanent and representative" from Le feu. Farewell, in the wake of Le feu's contravention of conventional war narratives, not only suggests the inevitable human consequences created by the Great War, but points to a significantly new way to tell the truth without screaming.


(1.) When the trend of aestheticism began to fade at the end of the 1890s, French literature once more began to involve itself in social criticism. Barbusse's Le feu (1916) and Roland Dorgeles' Les croix de bois (1919) brought the French novel abruptly back into contact with contemporary social reality. Barbusse's primary objective, as Mary Jean Green has noted, "was the simple imperative of communication: the need to explain the reality of life in the trenches to a civilian population whose view of war had been shaped by 19th-century mythologies and more recent wartime propaganda" (850). Yet literary allusion, the development of a poetic mythology, and the concentration on rendering only images are often, in Le feu, the modes of Barbusse's social criticism. (2.) Michael Payne and Richard Fleming, in Criticism, History, and Intertextuality, say "intertexuality is born with the recognition that a given text uncannily refuses to obey the principle of organic form by assuming the shape of a unified whole, however fissured by irony, tension, and paradox. From the beginning, intertextuality extends through the recognition of dialogic voices of other texts echoing within every text" (12). (3.) Michael Reynolds notes in The Young Hemingway that much of Hemingway's juvenilia was filled "with slang phrases and newly acquired interests" (90). Many of these interests stayed with Hemingway and later resurfaced in his more mature work. In an early story, "The Woppian Way" (1919), Hemingway named one of his characters Henri Barbusse, indicating his then current interest in the French writer. In Milan, shortly before writing "Woppian Way," Hemingway had read the 1918 Everyman edition of Le feu, translated by Fitzwater Wray. I have taken the English translations of Le feu from the 1918 edition. (4.) For Ossip Brik and others of the Society for the Study of Poetic Language in Moscow (1917), "`poetic language' stands in opposition to spoken language whose basic purpose is communication." But I posit that the "poetic language" in Farewell and Le feu should not be viewed as a deviation from the norms of language or as a sub-code of the linguistic code. See Leon S. Roudiez's discussion of poetic discourse in Julia Kristeva's Revolution in Poetic Language (2-3). (5.) For war narratives in France, see Frank Field's commentary in British and French Writers of the First World War. On the ideological and political function of Le feu, see Fields' Three French Writers and the Great War (25-37) and Jonathan King's "Henri Barbusse: Le feu and the Crisis of Social Realism" in The First World War in Fiction: A Collection of Critical Essays (43-52). (6.) "But military glory - it isn't even true for us common soldiers... the soldier's glory is a lie, like every other fine-looking thing in war" (Wray 341).

"I tell them that fraternity is a dream, an obscure and uncertain sentiment; that while it is unnatural for a man to hate one whom he does not know, it is equally unnatural to love him" (Wray 336). (7.) "But their eyes are opened. They are beginning to make out the boundless simplicity of things. And Truth not only invests them with a dawn of hope, but raises on it a renewal of strength and courage."

`That's enough talk about the others!' one of the men commanded; `all the worse for them! - Us! Us all!' (Wray 342) (8.) In a dialogue which precedes his admission that he has "perhaps ... outlived [his] religious feeling," Count Greffi recommends that Frederic read Le feu (FTA 270, 272). Hemingway, significantly, places the discussion of Le feu shortly after Frederic's desertion from the Italian army. (9.) "The tranquil expanses of the valley, adorned with soft and smooth pastures and hamlets rosy as the rose, with the sable shadow-stains of the majestic mountains and the black lace and white of the pines and eternal snow, become alive with the movements of men. Attacks develop, wave by wave, across the fields and then stand still. Houses are eviscerated like human beings and towns like houses. Villages appear in crumpled whiteness as though fallen from heaven to earth. The very shape of the plain is changed by the frightful heaps of the wounded and slain" (Wray 2). (10.) "But when evening is ready to descend within the valley, a storm breaks over the mass of Mont Blanc .... `Put an end to war?' say the watchers. - `Forbid the Storm!'" (Wray 3). (11.) "They distort even truth itself. For the truth which is eternally the same they each substitute their national truth. So many nations, so many truths; and thus they falsify and twist the truth. All those people are your enemies!" (Wray 340) (12.) See for example Peter Messent, Ernest Hemingway (56-63); Gerry Brenner, Concealments in Hemingway's Works (35); and Ben Stoltzfus, "A Sliding Discourse: The Language of A Farewell to Arms," in New Essays on A Farewell to Arms (109-110). (13.) Critics have undervalued Hemingway's early training in poetry. In 1923, however, Harriet Monroe, then the editor of Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, first tagged Hemingway a "young Chicago poet" (Poems xi), who was soon to publish his first book of verse (Three Stories and Ten Poems, 1923). Ezra Pound, in recommending Hemingway as an editor for the transatlantic review, told Ford Maddox Ford that "[Hemingway] writes very good verse and he's the finest prose stylist in the world" (Baker 7). Wallace Stevens in 1942 considered Hemingway's work to be the "poetry of extraordinary actuality" and thought of Hemingway as "the most significant of living poets" under this category (411-12). Pound and Stevens rightly connected Hemingway's minor poetic talents with his considerable gift for poeticizing the actual. (14.) "I see shadows coming from these sidelong pits and moving about, huge and misshapen lumps, bear-like, that flounder and growl. They are `us'" (Wray 5-6). (15.) See Roman Jakobson, Essais de linguistique generale (218). (16.) "The other men on guard, their concentrated gaze roaming in space, watch two enemy airplanes and the intricate skeins they are spinning. Around the stiff mechanical birds up there that appear now black like crows and now white like gulls, according to the play of the light, clouds of bursting shrapnel stipple the azure, and seem like a long flight of snowflakes in the sunshine" (Wray 81). (17.) See Linda Wagner's comments on the writing of the 1920S, particularly her section on genreless forms and "the transfer of principles and devices from one mode to another," in The Modern Novel: 1914-1945 (27-28). (18.) Pertinent to Hemingway's advice in "The Art of the Short Story" - "You should learn French if you are going to understand short stories and there is nothing rougher than to do it all the way" (6) - the French poet Yves Bonnefoy has been struck by the aptitude of the English language for noting appearances, for "describing what consciousness perceives, while avoiding any preconceptions about the final being of these referents." English poetry can enter "the world of the relative, of meanings, of ordinary life, in a way almost unthinkable in the `most sublime' French poetry" (126), which is given to the reestablishment of "openness" and "a substitution of the image for the world" (171). French literary language, as Bonnefoy perceives it, "connote[s] for the most part not empirically determined appearances but entities seeming to exist in themselves..." (127).


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Author:Dow, William
Publication:The Hemingway Review
Date:Sep 22, 1995
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