Friday, December 22, 2017

A friend mentioned A Farewell To Arms...

... in a context when I wanted to Google the book, to see if what I remembered was true.  I found a review by Percy Hutchison in The New York Times, dated September 29, 1929, which said:
The chief result is a sort of enamel lustre imparted to the story as a whole, not precisely an iridescence, but a white light, rather, that pales and flashes, but never warms. And because it never warms, or never seems to warm, the really human in Hemingway (and there is a great deal in Hemingway that is human) fails of its due. It is not impossible that Ernest Hemingway has developed his style to the extreme to which he carries it because in it he finds a sort of protective covering for a nature more sensitive than he would have one know. A Victorian telling the story of Henry and Catherine would have waxed sentimental; he would have sought the tears of his reader. And he would surely himself have shed tears as he wrote. We do not attempt to say how much Mr. Hemingway may have been affected by his narrative; but it is certain he has no desire to see his readers weep. Mr. Hemingway's manner does not seem to be quite an enduring thing, any more than was Victorian heaviness enduring. But the Hemingway manner is arresting purely as craftsmanship. And if its extreme naturalism borders dangerously on unnaturalism, for the reason that the effect of the printed pages must be, perforce, different from the effect of speech, then it behooves other craftsmen to find the proper modification. Yet it expresses the spirit of the moment admirably. In fact, seldom has a literary style so precisely jumped with the time.
I think about Hemingway like that too, and I found fascinating Mr. Huchison's speculation that Hemingway had adopted his style in part because he is too sensitive, or more sensitive than he would have the reader know.

I then looked up Mr. Hutchinson, and found his obituary in The Times, dated May 15, 1952:
Percy Hutchison served this news paper in a surprising range of positions for more than thirty years. In his early career here he wrote on yachting and boating. Later for many years he did book reviews, with a particular interest in the sea and about ships. Finally, he became poetry editor and to him fell the task of selecting from a great many poems submitted the one poem that would be published each day on the editorial page. Poetry-loving readers of THE TIMES will perhaps recognize his taste in the poems that have appeared here. He was never a radical in poetry or in any other field, but he had an instinct for selecting the best and he was by no means unsympathetic to modern movements. In his leisure moments he wrote articles, some fiction and some verse of his own. The latter part of his life, after a brief interlude as a foreign correspondent in Mexico, was tranquil.An editor selecting material for publication never knows how far his influence goes. Mr. Hutchison may have wondered about that. There is no doubt, however, that he stood for honest thoughts and emotions expressed in the poetic form and for good and careful workmanship. In his later years Mr. Hutchison, though always an engaging companion, was not as active as he had been. But to the last he read a great deal of submitted poetry and sorted out what he took to be the best. In that capacity and in his personal relationships he will be widely missed.

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