Jul. 21, 2007
Poem: "Love's Philosophy" by Percy Bysshe Shelley. Public Domain.
The fountains mingle with the river,
And the rivers with the Ocean,
The winds of Heaven mix forever
With a sweet emotion;
Nothing in the world is single;
All things by law divine
In one spirit meet and mingle.
Why not I with thine?
See the mountains kiss high Heaven
And the waves clasp one another,
No sister-flower would be forgiven
If it disdained its brother,
And the sunlight clasps the earth
And the moonbeams kiss the sea:
What is all this sweet work worth
If thou kiss not me?
Literary and Historical Notes:
It's the birthday of novelist John Gardner (books by this author), born in Batavia, New York (1933). He's best known for his novel Grendel, a retelling of Beowulf from the point of view of the monster.
And today is the birthday of Ernest Hemingway (books by this author), born in Oak Park, Illinois (1899). He went off to fight in World War I when he was just 17. He had bad eyesight, so he volunteered as an ambulance driver for the American Red Cross in Italy. He gave away chocolate and cigarettes to the Italian troops. And just about a month after he got to Italy, he was hit by shrapnel from an exploding shell. He spent weeks in the hospital and then came back home to his parents in Oak Park.
He was one of the first Americans to return from the war, and that made him a kind of celebrity in Oak Park. He gave talks to high school students. He hung around his parents' house until they decided they wanted him out of the house.
He started writing stories for Chicago newspapers and magazines, and then got a job as a foreign correspondent for the Toronto Daily Star and went off to Paris with his wife Hadley. They moved into an apartment in the Latin Quarter. Hemingway liked to give the impression that he was a poor bohemian, but he actually had plenty of money. He and his wife traveled around Europe and went to the horse races and ate in nice restaurants.
He became friends with a lot of writers who were in Paris at the time, Fitzgerald and Joyce and Pound and Gertrude Stein. And he wrote every day, sometimes in his apartment, sometimes in cafés. He wrote about one of those cafés, "It was a pleasant café, warm and clean and friendly, and I hung up my old waterproof on the coat rack to dry and put my worn and weathered felt hat on the rack above the bench and ordered a café au lait. The waiter brought it and I took out a notebook from the pocket of the coat and a pencil and started to write. I was writing about Michigan and since it was a wild, cold, blowing day it was that sort of day in the story."
He wrote in a letter to his father, "I'm trying in all my stories to get the feeling of the actual life acrossnot to just depict lifeor criticize itbut to actually make it alive.
His first collection of short stories, In Our Time, came out in 1925 and the following year, his first big success, The Sun Also Rises. Three years later, A Farewell to Arms came out. By the 1930s, he was one of the best-known writers alive, and young American men tried to act like "Hemingway heroes," speaking in staccato sentences out of the sides of their mouths. By the time he died in 1961, he was one of the most recognizable people on the planet.
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