Printer Friendly

NOTES THE WAR MONUMENT IN "CAT IN THE RAIN": THEN AND NOW.

WHEN ERNEST HEMINGWAY VACATIONED in Rapallo, Italy during the 1920s, he stayed at the Hotel Riviera Splendide, which today is simply called the Hotel Riviera. The present owners of the hotel have prepared a glossy advertising brochure, the first page of which pays tribute to its famous former guest by reprinting some opening lines from the author's signature tale, "Cat in the Rain" said to have been conceived "on a rainy day ... that February [1923] at the Hotel Splendide" in Rapallo (Baker 133). The excerpt printed in the promotional brochure reads, in Italian:
 C'erano soltanto due clienti Americani alloggiati in quello albergo.... La
 lore camera era al secondo piano affacciata sul mare. Guardava anche sue
 giardini pubblici ed il monumento ai caduti....


At the bottom of the page, the English text appears:
 There were only two Americans stopping at the hotel ... Their room was at
 the second floor facing the sea. It also faced the public garden and the
 war monument.


It is significant, given Hemingway's minimalist locutions, that the war monument is mentioned two more times in the short scene-setting paragraph of fourteen sentences: "Italians came from along way off to look up at the war monument. It was made of bronze and glistened in the rain" and "The motor cars were gone from the square by the war monument" (SS 167).

The actual monument featured in the story and clearly visible from Hemingway's Room 66 at the Hotel Riviera Splendide was the work of Giacinto Pasciuto. Pasciuto's sketch had won him the commission, following open competition among several artists, to create a monumento ai caduti (monument to the fallen) commemorating the sacrifices of Italian soldiers who died fighting in World War I. The sculpture was completed in late 1921 and unveiled near the Piazza IV Novembre(1) in the public garden on 30 July 1922, months before Hemingway began to write his enduring tale.

A news item printed in the Rapallo tabloid Il Mare(2) announced the unveiling along with a profile and photographs of Pasciuto's work, describing the prostrate figures of fallen soldiers as images of the sublime ideal, hugging each other in the last embrace of death: "... sono raggruppati nell'ultimo amplesso dalla morte le gloriose figure del Caduti abbracciantiai nella imagine de un sublime ideale." The dead warriors lay at the feet of a towering angel of victory stretching skyward, in one hand a conquering sword and in the other a triumphant crown. On the monument's stone base were inscribed the words "Affratelliati/ nel supremo sacrificio/ congiunti glorificati/ della piu grande/Italia vittoriosa" (Brotherly soldiers in the supreme sacrifice, gloriously joined, in the greatest Italian victory).

For more than a decade, the Pasciuto monument graced the public garden at Rapallo, but in the late 1930s, it was dismantled so that the bronze figures that had "glistened in the rain" could be melted down for military hardware.

After World War II, the municipality of Rapallo commissioned a bronze replacement statue to memorialize those who died in all wars, this one created by the sculptor Alessandro Cherchi. In the vicinity of the,public garden, near the sea and overlooked by the Hotel Riviera, the statue depicts "a mother complaining for her two children's sudden death because of war."(3) On a white marble plate attached to the wall behind the monument, inscribed in bronze, an epigraph reads, Ai Caduti Di Tutte Le Guerre (To all those who died in wars).

However, whether we consider the original Pasciuto war memorial or the later Cherchi tableau, the essence of Hemingway's timeless vision in the story remains intact. As the central trope of "Cat in the Rain" the war monument is a mute reminder of the incomplete lives toward which the narrative's modalities point. Indeed, this concise little tale of a woman's thwarted yearnings coincides with the aborted dreams memorialized in the sculptures--both the "American girl" and the "fallen" Italian soldiers have been robbed of the natural fulfillment life might be expected to hold. Principal among the story's introductory references, the war monument not only corresponds with the succeeding incident between the couple in the parable, but renders and underscores a mood of universal human sadness.

NOTES

(1.) November 4th is the anniversary of Italian victory in World War I.

(2.) Local newspaper accounts were found in the Biblioteca Internationale di Rapallo; photographs of the monuments came from the Archivo Storico del Commune di Rapallo.

(3.) Information obtained from Azienda di Promozione Turistica Tigullio, by fax 7 July 1999, subject entitled Rapallo's Monumento ai Caduti (War Memorial) by Sandro Cherchi.

WORKS CITED

Baker, Carlos. Ernest Hemingway: A Life Story. New York: Scribner's, 1969.

Hemingway, Ernest. "Cat in the Rain." The Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway, New York: Scribner's, 1938.167-170.

HILDY COLEMAN NEEL Long Island University
COPYRIGHT 2000 Ernest Hemingway Foundation
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2000 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:NEEL, HILDY COLEMAN
Publication:The Hemingway Review
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 22, 2000
Words:795
Previous Article:"WE DIDN'T COME HERE TO TALK ABOUT SUNSETS, KIDDO": "PAULINE SNOW" AND THE APPRENTICESHIP OF ERNEST HEMINGWAY.
Next Article:THE OUTSKIRTS OF LITERATURE: UNCOVERING THE MUNITIONS FACTORY IN "A NATURAL HISTORY OF THE DEAD".
Topics:


Related Articles
Cultural sites at risk.
From patriotism to peace: the humanization of war memorials.
STORM IN A TEA CUP; Stirling's bid to copy Paris cafe society is a washout.
THE STONECUTTER'S SON.
A FOUL MOOD, A DIRTY JOKE: HEMINGWAY'S "CAT IN THE RAIN".
Restoration of SUV-damaged monument proceeds.
Never forget; WHY IT TAKES MORE THAN A POPPY TO PAY TRIBUTE TO OUR FALLEN HEROES.
Partying ambassadors, Henry Miller and the Mexicans of Maroussi.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2022 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters |