INTERVIEWER: "Was there some technical problem there? What was it that had stumped you?" HEMINGWAY: "Getting the words right."
July 8, 2012 5:24 AM   Subscribe

To Use and Use Not: [NYTimes.com] "In an interview in The Paris Review in 1958 Ernest Hemingway made an admission that has inspired frustrated novelists ever since: The final words of “A Farewell to Arms,” his wartime masterpiece, were rewritten “39 times before I was satisfied.” A new edition of “A Farewell to Arms,” which was originally published in 1929, will be released next week, including all the alternate endings, along with early drafts of other passages in the book."
posted by Fizz (19 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
Eh, he chose the ending he did for a reason. Not everything has to be all "DVD extras" to be valid or interesting. Of course, it does provide a new marketing platform...
posted by Rykey at 5:26 AM on July 8, 2012 [8 favorites]


Catherine and the baby live. It is sunny. Everyone goes back to the hotel together in a cab.
posted by dortmunder at 5:31 AM on July 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


It's one reason why I think every writer should have a plan for their works beyond their mortal life. Sometimes even that is not enough...
posted by Fizz at 5:38 AM on July 8, 2012


"This author sweated blood to create the perfect tone for the ending of his novel. We're going to screw it up, purposely, to cash in. Ca-ching, baby!"
posted by Splunge at 5:42 AM on July 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Those of us who knew Hem personally always did find him indecisive. That is why he had so many wives.
posted by Postroad at 5:53 AM on July 8, 2012


Those of us who knew Hem personally always did find him indecisive. That is why he had so many guns wives.

Fixed.
posted by Fizz at 5:54 AM on July 8, 2012


A Farewell to Arms: like Wayne's World, but more so.
posted by Beardman at 6:11 AM on July 8, 2012


Really, they could have just reconfigured the novel as a choose-your-own-path adventure. They could call it Hemingway Your Way....
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:22 AM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


self editing is the primary skill of any artist. Why strip that away? Signal to noise isn't bad enough already?
posted by subtle_squid at 6:32 AM on July 8, 2012


So in the digital world we live in, does that mean we have more writing related ephemera or less?
posted by Fizz at 6:50 AM on July 8, 2012


Every writer needs an editor.
posted by Mojojojo at 6:53 AM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Every writer needs an editor.

Kurt Vonnegut agrees.
posted by Rykey at 7:05 AM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


A farewell to legs
ears
nostrils
testicles
toes
fingers
arms.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:54 AM on July 8, 2012 [6 favorites]


I knw a writer who, some years ago complained that he wouldnot use computer because earlier drafts etc would vanish...but soon after saying this some software came available that allowed earlier stuff to be saved making all drafts, editing available for those interested in an author's writing.
posted by Postroad at 8:13 AM on July 8, 2012


PeterMcD, I believe The Sun Also Rises was originally titled A Farewell to Testicles.
posted by Skygazer at 9:09 AM on July 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


Every writer needs an editor.

Kurt Vonnegut agrees.
posted by Rykey at 10:05 AM on July 8


Awesome metaphor here, because more than anything, I think a good writing teacher (and editors, the original writing teachers as Vonnegut points out so generously and kindly) will help a student understand that their inner world is real, and they need to get it the fuck out on the page...

even if they do gag a little.

Vonnegut was a fucking, MENSCH yo.
I asked each student to open his or her mouth as wide as possible. I reached in with a thumb and forefinger to a point directly beneath his or her epiglottis. There is the free end of a spool of tape there.

I pinched it, then pulled it out gradually, gently, so as not to make the student gag. When I got several feet of it out where we could see it, the student and I read what was written there.

posted by Skygazer at 9:55 AM on July 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


self editing is the primary skill of any artist. Why strip that away? Signal to noise isn't bad enough already?

To see the artist's process. To get a a richer appreciation for the craft of writing. I doubt this new edition will be seen and read as a replacement to the original.
posted by MetalFingerz at 11:14 AM on July 8, 2012


That's one way of seeing it. But I'd counter that with, how do we know that the artist would allow this, were he to have a voice in the process?
posted by Splunge at 7:00 PM on July 8, 2012


And the one he chose only got #64 on American Book Review's 100 Best Last Lines from Novels [pdf]
posted by gottabefunky at 10:56 AM on July 9, 2012


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