COLD WAR REVISIONS OF HEMINGWAY'S MEN AT WAR (1).
IN OCTOBER 1942, NOT QUITE ONE YEAR after America's entry into World War II, Crown Publishers brought out a large anthology, Men at War: The Best War Stories of All Time, edited and introduced by Ernest Hemingway. A compilation of fictional and historical war writing, from the Biblical story of David and Goliath (I Samuel 17) to an account of the just concluded Battle of Midway Island, Men at War contained eighty-two selections, three by Hemingway himself. In the introduction, Hemingway drew on what he had personally experienced and observed of war during World War I, during the Spanish Civil War, and on his trip through the Far East in 1941. His stated goals were to tell the truth about war, to assure soldier-readers that "there are no worse things to be gone through than men have been through before" (1942 Introduction xi; 1955 Introduction xi), and to hammer home a crucial theme: the need to defeat Fascism.(1) Reviewers, especially those of a more literary sort, did not care for the introduction, calling it "wandering" (Jones 11), "interesting but badly put together and discursive" (Gorman 37), "angry, chaotic, rambling, and pointless" (Millis 3). Carlos Baker, writing in Sewanee Review, found the value of Hemingway's introduction to lie in its "restatement" of the standards "that underlie the best of his own writing" (162).
But for Hemingway in 1942, literary matters were largely beside the point. He had written to Max Perkins expressing the hope that the book would be "useful" (SL 534). Perhaps to underscore the urgency and fighting spirit of his message, he dedicated the book to his three sons (the only one of his books to be so dedicated). Throughout the introduction we can see a tension between his comments on the artistic merit of the stories in the collection and his own political and military purpose: "The part this book can play in the winning of this war is to furnish certain information from former times" (1942 Introduction, xiii; 1955 Introduction, xii). Although the book's selections were grouped under aphorisms drawn from Clausewitz's On War (Chapter 3, Book I)--an arrangement implying that war literature contains universal truths about the grand topic of "Men at War"--the introduction was a polemic embedded in the specific historical context of World War II.
A decade later, in June 1952--two years after the outbreak of the Korean War and one year before its official end--Avon published a paperback edition of Men at War containing thirty-seven of the original eighty-two pieces and Hemingway's original introduction. And in May 1955, Crown issued a "New Complete Edition" which had all the original eighty-two selections but a truncated version of the 1942 introduction. According to Hemingway bibliographer Audre Hanneman, Hemingway "authorized" the revisions (58), but the extent of his role in the changes remains undear.(2) In any event, all subsequent editions of Men at War have contained this 1955 version of the introduction.(3)
The so-called New Complete Edition contains a Publisher's Foreword, dated March 1955, sketching the volume's history:
This book, so cherished by the G.I.'s of World War II, was permitted to go out of print in 1946. The war was over, wasn't it? Who cared about men at war? But soon it became apparent that the war wasn't really over and orders came in increasingly for Men at War. During the cold war, these orders did not seen [sic] enough to warrant a new edition, but when the Korean war began, the demand for Men at War mounted and we arranged for a paper-book edition, containing about one-third of the material in the complete book. Perhaps the paper edition whetted readers' appetites or perhaps Americans are becoming more and more interested in the ways of men at war. For the demand kept growing for the "complete book"--and so this new 1,100-page edition, containing Hemingway's introduction as it was written in 1942, complete except for a few topical references, and the entire contents of the original edition.
A comparison of Hemingway's 1942 introduction and the 1955 version reveals that nine passages, amounting to roughly five pages of printed material, were
cut, though not one word was added. But contrary to the implication of the publisher's blurb, the "few topical references" that were omitted are of considerable interest.
The nine passages that were cut are indicated below. For those readers who have access only to the 1955 introduction, I have noted in italics the lines which precede and follow these passages (i.e., the lines retained in the 1955 revision); paragraph breaks follow those in the 1942 introduction.
PASSAGE I. It never seemed to occur to them that we made the trains run on time in America without Fascism. Germany profited by the lessons of the last war.... We can beat the Germans without becoming Fascists. We can fight a total war without becoming totalitarians ... (1942 Introduction xii-xiii; 1955 Introduction xii).
PASSAGE II. His hatred and contempt for Napoleon makes the only weakness in that great book of men at war.
Last year the publishers.... I saw ... the same results that I refused. I love "War and Peace" for the wonderful, penetrating and true descriptions.... (1942 Introduction xviii; 1955 Introduction xvi).
PASSAGE III. All through the Pacific and the Far East in 1941 heard about the general incapacity and worthlessness of, [sic] "those little Monkeys." Everywhere I heard what we would do....
So the little monkeys lied ... where the oil and the rubber was. All the oil they had was what we.... (1942 Introduction xxi; 1955 Introduction xix).
PASSAGE IV. ... the later event was the real turning point. Cecil Brown sent.... Wherever it is published, read it.
Since then there have been two accounts of the battle.... (1942 Introduction xxii; 1955 Introduction xx).
PASSAGE V. If anyone ever sneers to you about the bravery of the British read him that account.
There are many legitimate criticisms of the British conduct of this war.... We ourselves lost 51,381 killed and 182,674 wounded.
This war is only a continuation of the last war. (1942 Introduction xxii-xxiii; 1955 Introduction xx).
PASSAGE VI. It was April, 1917 that ended our isolation--it was not Pearl Harbor. When this war is won, though.... The answer to the Nazi claim ... "We will take your race and wipe it out."
But there will be no lasting peace.... (1942 Introduction xxiii-xxiv; 1955 Introduction xxi).
PASSAGE VII. ... no matter what sacrifices are involved. Mr. V.T. Soong, the able Chinese representative....If matters of this sort ... could only be a literary curiosity. This introduction is written by a man.... (1942 Introduction xxvi-xxvii; 1955 Introduction xxiii).
PASSAGE VIII. If I did not think they were all good they would not be in. Friendly discussion and argument with the publisher.... A telegram said I won finally so you can probably disregard this paragraph.
This collection of stories, accounts.... (1942 Introduction xxx; 1955 Introduction xxvi).
PASSAGE IX. Its only and absolute standard for inclusion has been the soundness and truth of the material. It has omitted only two selections which it would have published if the United States had not been at war when the book was compiled....
Everything else in the book is exactly as it would be whether we were at war or not. I have seen much war in my lifetime and I hate it profoundly. (1942 Introduction xxx-xxxi; 1955 Introduction xxvi).
Although passages II, IV, and VIII are of little consequence,(4) the other six are significant, and it is my purpose here to describe and contextualize these six omissions.
By 1955, America's military and political alliances, as well as the perceived threats to America's security, were very different from what they had been in 1942. America's ally China had been "lost" to the Communists in 1949. West Germany and Japan had become America's partners in the cold war against our former ally, the Soviet Union. In Korea, American troops had fought Soviet-supported North Korean and Chinese forces for three years until the armistice in summer of 1953. Also in 1953, the Rosenbergs had been executed on the charge of stealing "the secret" of the atomic bomb, and the Soviet Union had tested its first hydrogen bomb. Domestically, the House Committee on Un-American Activities, the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee, and various state-level investigative committees were "exposing" real and alleged Communists, Communist sympathizers, leftists, and liberals. Congress had passed the McCarran (Internal Security) Act in 1950, the McCarran-Walter (Immigration and Nationality) Act in 1952, and the Communist Control Act in 1954. Senator Joseph McCarthy, who chaired the Senate Committee on Government Operations and whom Hemingway had ridiculed in print,(5) kept his anti-Communist crusade in the headlines until his tactics were finally censured by the Senate at the end of 1954. It was in this political climate of fear and suspicion that Hemingway's polemical introduction to Men at War was revised for the 1955 reprint.(6)
In omitted Passage I, Hemingway seeks, as he does through most of the introduction, to demonstrate his familiarity with modern weaponry and with military history. In his view, the Germans learned from their experiences not only in World War I but during the Spanish Civil War. Problems with German tanks employed in Spain were corrected as soon as Germany, thanks to Daladier and Chamberlain, took control of the Skoda works in Czechoslovakia. The French, on the other hand, should have learned from the Spanish war--but did not--that their thirty-seven millimeter anti-tank guns were useless against German medium and heavy armor. He urges "us" to "learn all [the Germans'] lessons without being Fascist if we keep our minds open. All we need is common sense; a quality which is often conspicuously lacking in generalship but which our own Civil War produced the great masters of. We can beat the Germans without becoming Fascists" (1942 Introduction xiii).
On the face of it, the removal of this passage from the original introduction might have been justified as a way to avoid repetition--after all, the revised introduction does retain two similar passages.(7) Neverthless, the omission of this passage downplays both Hemingway's specific animus against the Germans and his specific use of the term "Fascist." It is instructive to note that in 1942, the same year that Men at War was first published, Hemingway was also involved in the conversion of his Spanish Civil War novel, For Whom the Bell Tolls, into a Hollywood film. In his letters to Hollywood agent Donald Friede, which have recently been published, Hemingway reveals his belief in the power of art to affect the war.(8) These letters, which concern Dudley Nichols's screenplay of the novel, are full of objections to the many points in the script where Nichols has softened the book's specific politics, its pro-Republican, anti-Fascist thrust. The movie, Hemingway believed, should make clear what the fight is about: "Throughout the picture the enemy should be called the Fascists and the Republic should be called the Republic, not simply ourselves and the enemy" (Carroll 270); the anti-Fascists should call each other "comrade" not "friend" (274, 276).
Of course, Hemingway's insistence on calling a Fascist a Fascist made sense--when the movie came out, the war against Fascism had not yet been won (and in Spain it had been lost). By the mid-1950s, however, it was only the besieged remnants of the American Left who still used the word "Fascist" as a term with current meaning, applying it, for example, to Senator McCarthy, to Senator Eastland of Mississippi, and to F.B.I. Director J. Edgar Hoover. Perhaps the publishers of the 1955 Men at War reduced the introduction's use of the term "Fascist" in order to distance themselves (and Hemingway) from the company of those who employed the term in other than a purely historical sense. In any event, the 1955 introduction does not provide the full flavor of Hemingway's political outrage in 1942.
Omitted Passage III concerns attitudes toward the Japanese among the American military prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor. The 1955 introduction to Men at War does retain Hemingway's analysis of events in the Far East, an analysis based on his journalistic travels there in 1941 and his reports to the newspaper PM (see White 303-39). It also retains a passage which criticizes the ignorance and arrogance of those in the U.S. Navy who, before 7 December 1941, had dismissed the Japanese as militarily incompetent "pushovers." But in a passage which was omitted, Hemingway elaborates his mockery of that arrogance: "Boy, how it was going to be once we got a smack at those little monkeys and all those paper houses started to burn when the incendiaries dropped! Let's have it now with those little monkeys and get it over with so we can get on with something serious. It's going to come, isn't it? Let's take those little monkeys now and get it over with" (1942 Introduction xxi).
By 1955, this was a passage that might have embarrassed Hemingway as well as his targets in the U.S. military. Japan had become an ally that had provided bases for U.S. forces during the Korean War, and even though Hemingway was ridiculing the racist stereotyping of the Japanese, his language might have proved offensive to some. More probably, the passage might have reminded readers of America's use of atomic bombs against Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as the fire-bombing of Tokyo--events which might have seemed to validate the very predictions and attitudes Hemingway was confidently deriding in 1942.
In omitted Passage V, Hemingway defends the idea that there must be self-criticism among the Allies if the war is to be won. For example, the British lost Bataan in part because the defenders did not have enough quinine to stave off malaria, and Hemingway asks how this came about and what is being done to correct the problem in the future. But, he continues, "no one has any right to make that criticism who is not familiar with Zeebrugge, with the retreat from Mons and the part played in it by Smith-Dorrien when he stayed and fought at Le Cateau, with the Defense of the Aisne, with all that winter of 1914 and 1915 ..." (1942 Introduction xxiii). By 1942, these heroics--performed by non-Americans almost three decades earlier--would have been at best a dim memory to most of Hemingway's readers and would have been mere history book stuff by 1955. Again, the name-dropping seems meant to establish Hemingway as one of the few who have "any right" to speak on military matters.
Of the omitted passages, Passage VI is certainly the most sensational--indeed, it raised many eyebrows when it appeared in 1942.(9) It deserves to be quoted at length:
When this war is won, though, Germany should be so effectively destroyed that we should not have to fight her again'for a hundred years, or, if it is done well enough, forever. This can probably only be done by sterilization. This act can be accomplished by an operation little more painful than vaccination and as easily made compulsory. All members of Nazi party organizations should be submitted to it if we are ever to have a peace that is to be anything more than a breathing space between wars. No matter how we win the war, no matter what peace is imposed, if this is not done there will be another war as soon as the beaten Nazis can organize for it. (1942 Introduction xxiii-xxiv)
Hemingway explains that the allies should not now publicly advocate sterilization, "since it can only cause increased resistance. So I do not advocate it. I oppose it. But it is the only ultimate settlement" (1942 Introduction xxiv). Though Hemingway initially talks about submitting Nazis to sterilization, he later suggests in the introduction that he has all of Germany in mind. After noting that war diminishes a nation's population, he writes:
But the reduction of population of a country by war is like pruning a tree. The roots and the seed must be destroyed if there is ever to be any lasting peace in Europe. The answer to the Nazi claim that Germans are a superior race and other races shall be slaves is to say, and mean it, "We will take your race and wipe it out." (1942 Introduction xxiv)
It is interesting that in October 1944, during an OSS mission, Hemingway's son Jack was captured by the Germans, and though his father's fame ultimately protected him, the passage above caused him some uneasy moments. In his memoir Misadventures ora Fly Fisherman: My Life With and Without Papa, Jack describes the passage in Men at War as "a gratuitous comment that criminal military behavior, such as was carried on by the German SS, should be punished by castration" (103). Later, describing his captivity, he writes of being summoned to report to his camp's Oberleutnant: "As I crossed the parade ground I remembered, with some trepidation, the comments my father had written in Men at War suggesting that SS officers should be castrated" 184-85).(10) It is clear from Hemingway's own words, however, that he did not intend sterilization to be limited to the SS.
Had this inflammatory passage been reprinted in 1955, of course, America's West German friends would have taken offense.(11) And politically conscious readers might have heard echoes of what eventually came to be known as the Holocaust--Hemingway's phrase "ultimate settlement" sounding like Endlosung, the "Final Solution to the Jewish Question." Moreover, reprinting these angry sentiments might have tainted Hemingway's newly won status as a Nobel Laureate in Literature.(12) In fairness to Hemingway, it should be said that when the war was over, he published a foreword to the 1946 collection entitled Treasury for a Free World in which he said that the allies should not be vindictive and called for a "re-education" of allies and enemies alike to prevent future wars ("Foreword" xv).(13)
In omitted Passage VII, Hemingway shows his awareness of the mixed purposes of his introduction. After some advice about the need to support China ("our second front against Japan"), he declares:
If matters of this sort intrude themselves into an introduction to a book of narratives of men at war, it must be remembered that we are at war and an impersonal, detached, and purely objective introduction could only be a literary curiosity. (1942 Introduction xxvi-xxvii)
Still retained in 1955 was the explanation that followed about Hemingway feeling responsible for his three sons; as he tells the reader, "Therefore, be pleased to regard this introduction as absolutely personal rather than impersonal writing" (1942 Introduction xxvii; 1955 Introduction xxiii).
In the final omitted passage under consideration (Passage IX), Hemingway describes for his 1942 audience two selections that have not been included but "would have been pubished if the United States had not been at war when the book wass compiled" (1942 Introduction xxx). By even mentioning the works that were not included, Hemingway shows not only his keen awareness that publication is shaped by political considerations but also his desire to call the reader's attention to this fact about books. The omission of these remarks from the politically-shaped introduction of 1955 is thus especially ironic.
The two selections that were not included are an excerpt from Andre Malraux's Man's Fate and a story entitled "Nine Prisoners" by William March. The former is "a marvelous piece of writing and would have been included in this book if we had not been at war and if Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek had not been one of our allies." Of course, in 1955, the Chinese mainland was in the hands of the very Communists Malraux had depicted rather sympathetically, while Chiang Kai-Shek's anti-Communist outpost on Taiwan was recognized by the U.S. government as the true China. It is noteworthy that fear of offending Chiang Kai-Shek was not, for Hemingway, a sufficient motive for excluding Malraux:
I still would have included the selection for its literary value if I had not, knowing Malraux in Spain, come to doubt his accuracy. If there was any doubt as to the truth of the incident, I felt it should not be published in this book while we were at war, no matter how well written it was. It was magnificently well written. (1942 Introduction xxx)
The anthology's second non-selection, March's "Nine Prisoners," was a story that, according to Hemingway,
dealt with the fate in civil life of members of a squad who were called upon to shoot a number of prisoners for reasons of military necessity. Since the military problem, which was by no means clearly presented in the story, will undoubtedly arise many times in this war, I thought the story should be omitted from this book for the duration of the war. After the war, if a new edition is published, I should strongly advise that the story be included. (1942 Introduction xxx)
|Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback|
|Author:||SANDERSON, RICHARD K.|
|Publication:||The Hemingway Review|
|Article Type:||Critical Essay|
|Date:||Sep 22, 2000|
|Previous Article:||SHADOWS OF A LITERARY DIALECT: FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS IN FIVE ROMANCE LANGUAGES (3).|
|Next Article:||COLD WAR REVISIONS OF HEMINGWAY'S MEN AT WAR (2).|