Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The First Forty-Nine | Ernest Hemingway

It's been a long time in the reading, but I have finally finished "The First Forty-Nine" short stories (375 pages) in my volume of "The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway", which was published by his Son's, post humously. What is unique about this edition, is that it also includes short stories published in books or magazines subsequent to "The First Forty-Nine" as well as some previously unpublished fiction.

There is a little amount of controversy with some Hemingway fans, regarding the publication. I have posted a little excerpt, from Amazon.ca:

The Complete Short Stories is a wonderful read. It has the fullest collection of Hemingway's short prose available. However I dispute the validity of some of the publisher's selections - which, it turns out, is what this book really is. "One Trip Across" and "The Tradesman's Return" are interesting but are actually part of To Have and Have Not. "The Last Good Country" is not a short story but an uncompleted novel. "A Train Trip" and "The Porter" are not stories at all but six chapters from an uncompleted novel called A New Slain Knight that he wrote in 1928. "The Strange Country" is also not a story but deleted chapters from Islands in the Stream. Others of his stories were also omitted: many of his early stories from the 1910s and early '20s, the fable "A Divine Gesture," a bullfight story "A Lack of Passion," and several World War II stories, including "A Room on the Garden Side," "The Monument," "Indian County and the White Army," "The Bubble Reputation" and others. Most of these stories have never been published before and it would be nice if a book would come out with all of them. Until then read this one. But still, this is a wonderful read.

I believe most of these critisms come from the other short-stories included in this collection which I have yet to read. Some of these technicalities aside, these Hemingway stories are at times poignant and graceful, and at others, dull and lacking conviction. However, there are some real gems in these stories. Hemingway has a way of delving into important aspects of life that seem small to most, but are very important to those seeking a different way of living. Some of the short-stories are so good, you wished that he would have wrote an entire novel on them because you can't believe there isn't going to be more pages and thoughts to indulge in. That being said, most are exactly as long as they need to be, with the exception of a few that didn't hit the mark.

Since it's been so long since I read some of them, I will post some consensus favourites from some reviews I read. I'd have to take some time to myself to determine what I think about the selections, but most of them stand out fairly poignantly.

The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber
The Snows of Kilimanjaro
The Killers
A Clean, Well-Lighted Place

If you get a chance, I would urge reading some of those just to get a feel for his fiction. They are fairly indicative of his work in general, in my opinion. A majority of subjects deal with the places Hemingway has lived in his life including Spain and Cuba, and explore the nature of man, hunting, bull-fighting and relationships. In the coming months, I'll go back and try to remember all the stories and confirm the best ones to read, but this would be a good start for anyone looking to give Hemingway a try.

1 comment:

bibliophilica said...

Thanks for sharing the link to this post with me. I feel like I've made a great "discovery" here today and see myself reading a lot of Hemingway here in the near future.

-Jay