Hemingway’s Paris: Our Paris? by H.R. Stoneback
New Street Communications, LLC
I downloaded this recently published book from New Street Communications to my Kindle yesterday and read it this morning. I did not realize it is really a very long essay (48 pages in the paperback edition), but if you are a Hemingway aficionado as I am, this essay is not to be missed. H. R. Stoneback is a renowned Hemingway scholar and former member of the Hemingway Society‘s Board of Directors. I knew very little about him before I downloaded and read his tribute to Hemingway and Paris. Reading this publication evoked some of the same feelings I had when I first read Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast a few years ago.
Mr. Stoneback wrote this piece in one night in 1989 for a magazine article. He sent in the manuscript and told the editors they could cut the piece if they needed. They apparently cut a lot. All these years later, Mr. Stoneback has published the full version of his essay.
After the first few pages, I knew Mr. Stoneback was a true scholar and wonderful writer. As usual, I had to look up many words, not to mention references to people and places I was not familiar with, but I enjoyed the fact that most of the references to places in Paris and France were familiar. I always enjoy writer’s descriptions of Hemingway’s tools of understatement, allusion, and omission.
My favorite few sentences from the essay are:
Hemingway’s world is a resacralized landscape and few writers have responded as deeply as he did to the deus loci, the spirit of place, residing in each place he evoked. He is one of our great poets of place, at once a very accurate and rapt cartographer and bard of the deus loci. And yet most of us, at one time or another, slumber in thralldom to the silly myth of the Lost Generation, foolish and firm in our windy asseverations that Hemingway’s world is a world of drunken expatriates aimlessly drifting from Paris to Spain and back again with no point, no direction, stoically enduring the night and nada in a world where all values are lost, all gods dead. It would seem almost impossible to escape this view of Hemingway since it has been sold in our classrooms for half a century, promulgated in magazines and on television screens by almost everyone who talks about Hemingway.
–H. R. Stoneback
Another few pages I thoroughly enjoyed were Mr. Stoneback’s own superb descriptions of Paris.
Some of those scholarly words that I had to consult the dictionary to understand were:
constatation-an assumption that is basic to an argument
peregrinations-walks or travels by foot
eidolon-an unsubstantial image
numinous-appealing to the higher emotions or to the aesthetic sense; spiritual; holy
calvados-an apple brandy produced in the Calvados region of Normandy
expiation-act of making atonement
pèlerinage-French for pilgrimage
asseverations-affirmations or positive or earnest declarations
annealment-a Faulknerian neologism, from the verb anneal (to heat and then cool a substance such as steel or glass to make it less brittle)
susurrus-a whistling or rustling sound