Hello everyone! Today just a quick post. I would like to recommend this edition to you. It is known as 'The Finca Virgia edition'. As the title of it would suggests, it contains the complete short stories of Ernest Hemingway. The famous forty nine stories? They're all there. In addition, this book contains unfinished novels by Hemingway. So, it is a very complete edition, it even has a foreword written by Hemingway's sons. I borrowed this edition from the library. I'm not sure will I buy it, because I have soooo many books, perhaps some day I will. I actually returned this book to the library before I managed to read it cover to cover. Basically, I didn't managed to read his unfinished writings, perhaps because I don't really like unfinished literary pieces- it feels too much like a teaser. I will have to read his unfinished novels some other time. I'm really happy I read almost all of his short stories because now I have a feeling that I got such a better insight into his writing. I don't know why I waited so long to really dig into his short story collection. Perhaps it is for the better. Being familiar with Hemingway's novel made reading these stories even more interesting. I could see how they connect one to another. I was able to make many mental connections and comparisons.
Anyway, I immensely enjoyed reading Hemingway's short stories. Some of his stories are quite short, some are quite long but they are all a great read. I won't review them all separately or in length. That would take forever because there are so many of them. Instead, I will just write down those that are at this moment my personal favourites. In addition, I will write a few sentences about them (a short review of a sort):
1. The Short and Happy Life of Francis Macomber
This story is set in Africa. Long story short- It is so well written, the characterization is masterfully done and the ending is simply splendid- and so unexpected. Don't let anyone spoil it for you! It is a pretty well known story, so you might have encountered a spoiler or two already. I'm so glad I didn't because the ending caught by surprise. That doesn't happen a lot.
2. The Snows of Kilimanjaro
This one is a classic. If you like Hemingway, don't miss it. It is surprisingly emotional and vulnerable. Perhaps this is due to the fact that it is quite autobiographical. Hemingway was seriously injured in a plane accident in Africa and he had felt the consequences of it until his death.
3. Up in Michigan
This one is actually very depressive and sad, but I liked it because it is different. Different in what way? Well, the protagonist is a woman. Moreover, the story is told from a perspective of a woman. The theme is very bold. There is more than one way to read this one, but I think that one of them is particularly interesting- and that one is a warning to us woman. It reminded me a lot of one novella written by a Croatian writer, written a few decades before this one by Hemingway.
4. Indian Camp
Certainly a very important story in Hemingway's canon. The theme of childbirth is handled in an interesting way. It is a painful read, but I did feel that there is a moral to this story. It made sense to me. Plus, it is well written and flows naturally.
5. The End of Something
This short story is an interesting insight into a young man's psychology. We get to see how one young man's emotional reaction to a break up. Part of him had previously planned it and wished for it, but a part of him regrets it. I think it explains why men sometimes perceive relationships as 'traps', even when they do emotionally care about their partner. It is because in a relationship, a man is often the person who is considered to be more responsible. He is the one expected to make decisions, that is why they might be more pressured. On the other hand, it is not like things are easy for us ladies either. We're expected to always adapt and that is no small feat either.
6. Cat in the Rain
The story centers around a young woman, married to a distracted writer, trying to to find comfort in rescuing a cat in the rain. The writer in the story is obviously meant to be Hemingway himself and it doesn't show him in a particularly good light. This one is quite short but it is so well written. Once again, I liked how it put focus on the woman in the story. Nicely done!
7. A Very Short Story
When I read this one, I thought it was really good. However, when I discovered that it is almost completely autobiographical, I ended up liking it even more. Why? Because it retells such a personal experience. It tells a story of a soldier who falls in love with a nurse and plans to marry her. They get separated and in the meantime she falls in love with an Italian soldier and leaves him. This is something that actually happened to Hemingway. Not that I'm justifying his later (possibly problematic) behaviour, but perhaps this hurt was what hovered over his relationship with women in his life. At any rate, it takes guts to write about something that pains you deeply.
8. The Battler
The protagonist of this short story is Nick and he seems like a typical Hemingway's hero at start, a manly man and all that. However, he is not really in the focus (or the real hero) of this story. Nick encounters an ex boxer. The sad story of the boxer is the real 'story' in this one. The rest is just framing. Framed narrative is something that Hemingway used a couple of time. This time it felt perfectly executed. I felt moved by this story. It was a sad tale but I liked it.
9. The Butterfly and The Tank
Hemingway wrote a lot of antiwar stories, but this might just be my favourite one. It is set in Spain and is a part of his Spanish war short stories. This one shows the absurdity of war very clearly. I had read it in a heartbeat. It shows, rather than tells, this incident in which a man gets killed without a proper reason. It seems there is a reason, even you as a reader feel so, but then you realize you are wrong.They say that is a sign of a great writing. You really feel something. War changes our perspective of things- you are made to understand how. The writer has showed it to you, he didn't just tell you about it, he made you feel it. A masterpiece.
10. Night Before Battle
Another one of Hemingway's Spanish War stories, this one tells a story of a man who knows he will be killed in the battle the following day. He knows it because his commander doesn't even know who Clausewitz is or what the definition of strategy and tactics is (btw Clausewitz was a Prussian general and a historian, who wrote the first scientific book about war). But that is war. Sometimes you're a brave man who is in charge of other brave man and yet you have to listen to some idiot. To disobey an order in time of war is almost always cowardice, both to yourself and to your fellow man. It is something that is hard to understand if you don't know how the military functions. I think general public knows very little about it. Perhaps that is why veterans are almost never appreciated and often people hate them. This is all because people don't like to think or be reminded of unpleasant things. This story is also told in a framed narrative. The protagonist is a soldier who tells a story of this other 'doomed' soldier.