Thursday, February 02, 2017

Trading empathy for art

Hard-boiled hardly does justice to the letter Ernest Hemingway sent to F. Scott Fitzgerald on Christmas Eve, 1925. In the letter, a 26-year-old Hemingway discussed the genesis of his short story “Out of Season”, based on a fractious fishing trip he and his first wife Hadley took in the Dolomites with a drunken old man as their guide. Hemingway explained that after the couple had returned to their hotel, he complained to the hotel manager about their “drunk of a guide”, who was promptly fired. The old man then hanged himself in a stable. Without showing any remorse about the part he might have played in the guide’s demise, Hemingway simply noted that he omitted the suicide episode from his short story because he felt it was redundant. First published in Paris in 1923, “Out of Season” was a ruthless sign of things to come: its near-literal translation of a real-life event that Hemingway had experienced and minutely observed would provide the template for his first novel TheSun Also Rises (originally published in the UK with the differenttitle Fiesta), completed three years later.

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