Thursday, September 15, 2016

Bylines: Ernest Hemingway

This is a collection of some of Hemingway's many published articles, dating back to his days working for the Toronto Star Weekly in the early 1920s. It isn't all his articles, just some of the ones the editor (William White) thought were the best, I guess. There are quite from his time in Spain during the Spanish Civil War, as well as a section for articles written about World War II. Most of the earlier of those are written about a trip he and Martha Gellhorn took to China in 1938 to scope things out (I should try to find any articles Gellhorn wrote about it, since I suspect her perspective would be rather different than his), and the last few are from his time in France traveling with Allied forces during the invasion. And of course, there are a lot of articles about fishing in the Gulf Stream, though fewer than I expected about hunting in Africa.

So it's a mixed bag. Some articles are better written than others, some are just more interesting to me. One of the earliest articles is, "A Free Shave," where he investigates the options available for someone looking for free services, and winds up at the barber college. Turns out the shaves are only free if you let the less-experienced, not ready for prime time students do it. He wound up with a guy who had cut open his finger that morning, but escaped unscathed. Anyway, I enjoyed that one partly because its subject matter was so different from most of the others. I did like some of his reports from Spain, or his writing about the Genoa Conference, but they can feel repetitive if he's hammering the same points.

One other thing I enjoyed is how he works around not being able to include profanity in the articles. One that he wrote for Esquire in the '30s, "On Being Shot Again: A Gulf Stream Letter", he uses phrases like, 'Fornicate the illegitimate,' and 'I'll be of unsavory parentage.' I thought those were clever workarounds, but for some reason I've been delighted by the phrase "expletive deleted" ever since I first saw it (probably in an article in the sports page), so maybe I'm just strange.

'Now when you become known as a Friend of France it usually means that you are dead, the French would not commit themselves that far if you were alive, and that you have either spent much money for France, obtained much money for France, or simply sucked after certain people long enough to get the Legion of Honor. In the last case they call you a Friend of France in much smaller type.'

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