The Great Books of the World – Part 2

“There is no friend as loyal as a book.”
Ernest Hemingway

Courtesy of Inspiration Journey:

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies.
The man who never reads lives only one.”
George R. R. Martin 

Courtesy of Existential Delight:

 

Preludes, Op. 28 – No. 6 ‘Tolling bells’ composed by Frédéric Chopin; this piece is poignant as it was played at Chopin’s own funeral:

 

I read Ernest Hemingway’s book “For Whom the Bell Tolls” as a young girl and its impact will stay with me forever. His other book “The Old Man and the Sea” had the same effect because he was one of the most original, mesmerising and resourceful writers in the world. When I opened the first book, before the first page, there was this full-page passage that gave his work its title. It is taken from a sermon to King James I by John Donne, his chaplain, in 1623, and this what it says:

“No man is an island entire of itself;
every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less,
as well as if a promontory* were, as well as if a manor
of thy friend’s or of thine own were.
Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls:
It tolls for thee.”   

*Promontory – A point of high land that juts out into the sea.

Courtesy of artofebrink:

 

I have this most profound text framed and on my wall, it reflects my own mantra – I am a human being first, and everything else after. It prevented me from ever feeling superior to anyone else, and created in me a highly developed sense of social conscience and the need to help anyone in need, human or animal. The second book, The Old Man and the Sea, has the famous quote: ‘A man can be destroyed but not defeated.’ When I had a particularly difficult time in my life, it gave me the inspiration to persevere.

Ernest Hemingway

Hemingway’s influence on the course of modern literature is incalculable, and his writing remains intense and vivifying. It tells much about growing up, about solitude, and resourcefulness, about fear and despite it, doing things anyway. His experience in the First World War coloured his outlook on life. 

 

ERNEST  HEMINGWAY

21 July 1899 – 2 July 1961

Courtesy of Biography:

 

The childhood home of Hemingway in Oak Park, now the Hemingway Foundation

Downtown Oak Park

Ernest Hemingway was born in Oak Park, a Chicago suburb. His father was a doctor and he was the second of six children. In 1917 Hemingway joined the Kansas City ‘Star’ as a cub reporter. The following year he volunteered to work as an ambulance driver on the Italian front where he was badly wounded but twice decorated for his services.

In 1919, he returned to America. In 1922 he reported on the Greco-Turkish war. Two years later he resigned from journalism to devote himself to fiction. He settled in Paris. Other writers, American expatriates, encouraged him to develop his unique style.   

Courtesy of museny1:

In Paris Hemingway published several books and his international reputation was firmly secured by his three books: In Our Time, A Farewell to Arms, and For Whom the Bell Tolls. 

Robert Jordan, the protagonist of the author’s novel of the Spanish Civil War, For Whom the Bell Tolls, became a ‘public hero’ after the book sold millions of copies. He was a far more conventional figure than his predecessors in Hemingway’s previous books. Robert Jordan joins the guerrillas hiding in the mountains because he wants to help in any way he can. He knows how to expertly blow the bridges that otherwise would allow General Franco’s army to advance towards the partisans.

His awkward attempts to grasp hold of some meaning in the midst of the war destruction is compounded by his unexpected falling for a peasant girl, a victim of General Franco’s soldiers. The romantic passion he and Maria cling to is moving beyond description. 

“Then there was the smell of heather crushed and the roughness of the bent stalks under her head and the sun bright on her closed eyes and all his life he would remember the curve of her throat with her head pushed back into the heather roots and her lips that moved, and the fluttering of the lashes on the eyes tight closed against the sun and against everything, and for her everything was red, orange, gold-red from the sun on the closed eyes, and it all was that colour, all of it, the filling, the possessing, the having, all of that colour, all in the blindness of that colour. For him, it was a dark passage which led to nowhere, then to nowhere, once again to nowhere, always and forever to nowhere, heavy on the elbows in the earth to nowhere, dark, never any end to nowhere, hung on all time to always to unknowing nowhere, now beyond all bearing up. up, up, and into nowhere, suddenly, scaldingly, holdingly all nowhere gone and time absolutely still and they were both there, time having stopped and he felt the earth move out and away from under them.” 

“He looked at her and across the meadow where a hawk was hunting and the big afternoon clouds were coming now over the mountains.

‘And it is not thus for thee with others?’ Maria asked him, they now were walking hand in hand.

    ‘No. Truly.’

    ‘Thou has loved many others’.

    ‘ Some. But not as thee.’

    ‘ And it was not thus? Truly?’

    ‘ It was a pleasure but it was not thus.’

    ‘ And then the earth moved. The earth never moved before?’

     ‘Nay. Truly never.’

    ‘ Ay,’ she said. ‘And this we have for one day.’ 

“Romance No. 1” by John Brunning, performed by  Xuefei Yang:

Memorial Terç de Requetes, Monserrat, Spain

“Romance” (Traditional), performed by John Williams:

 

The Old Man and the Sea

A masterpiece

This hauntingly beautiful tale was published in 1952 and was greeted with great acclaim. It won the Pulitzer Prize in 1953 and was followed by the Swedish Academy’s bestowal of the Nobel Prize a year later.

As a fisherman himself, Hemingway gives a knowing description of the tools and techniques of fishing. It is a tale chronicling an elderly Cuban fisherman’s epic contest with an enormous marlin. Across several days and nights, the weary but determined Santiago tracks the hooked creature until he at last claims his catch, which is so big that it must be strapped to the side of his skiff, where it is inexorably attacked and eaten by sharks before the old man can get back to port.

Santiago meets his disappointment with great dignity. The sentiment he expresses as he helplessly watches the sharks destroy his hard-won prize. The immortal line – “A man can be destroyed but not defeated” – has been wildly heralded as the author’s own, the book celebrated for its uplifting message of perseverance. Yet, the tale’s simplicity and fleet forward motion are like a fable-like arc of struggle and symbolism, only masking its ineluctable expression of what Gabriel Garcia Marquez called Hemingway’s one essential theme: “the uselessness of victory.” The book’s sturdy, stalwart, almost ancient eloquence is haunted with echoes of the sure but ineffable truths of tragedy: we sense some profound meaning, but we can’t quite put words to it. The tale outlasts its interpretation, as only the strongest stories can.

 

The truths he has to tell are profoundly poetic, and they are diminished by any attempts to paraphrase them.

Another of the greatest writers of the world, William Faulkner commented:

“His best. Time may show it to be the best single piece of any of us, I mean his or my contemporaries.” 

Here is a little sample of Hemingway’s masterpiece:

“Fish,” he said, “I love you and respect you very much. But I will kill you dead before this day ends.”

 Let us hope so, he thought.

 A small bird came toward the skiff from the north. He was a warbler and flying very low over the water. The old man could see that he was very tired.

The bird made the stern of the boat and rested there. Then he flew around the old man’s head and rested on the line where he was more comfortable.

“How old are you?” the old man asked the bird. “Is this your first trip?”

The bird looked at him when he spoke. He was too tired even to examine the line and he teetered on it as his delicate feet gripped it fast.

“It’s steady,” the old man told him. ” It’s too steady. You shouldn’t be that tired after a windless night. What are birds coming to?”

The hawks, he thought, that come out to sea to meet them. But he said nothing of this to the bird who could not understand him anyway and who would learn about the hawks soon enough.

“Take a good rest, small bird,” he said. ” Then go in and take your chance like any man or bird or fish.”

It encouraged him to talk because his back had stiffened in the night and it hurt truly now.” 

 

The tale of the friendship between the old fisherman Santiago and the little boy, Manolin, is a story inside the story of the novel and in itself is a masterpiece.

Courtesy of Encore +, the recipient of the Academy Award for Best Short Animated Film in 2000:

 

 

 

82 thoughts on “The Great Books of the World – Part 2

  1. Wonderful discourse on Hemingway. I have visited his house in Key West. You can really get the feel for the man there.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Thank you, Pat, for your kind comment.

    Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Fabulous and informative post, Joanna. Thank you for sharing . Have a wonderful weekend.💕

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Thank you, Grace, for your generous comment.

    Best wishes to you too.

    Joanna

    Liked by 2 people

  5. He has enduring popularity. I imagine that enormous numbers of copies of his books are sold every year.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Very Knowledgeable and Informative piece of writing 🙌🏻

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you for your kind comment. Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I’ve enjoyed reading this Joanna, just as I enjoyed reading ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’. It was a long time ago since I’ve read it, and you’ve reminded me of just how good it was. It must have been telepathy that my recent post on Segovia was the area where the book was set. I haven’t read the ‘Old Man and the Sea’ and I must add it to the list.

    I knew that he lived in Key West, but I didn’t know that he was born in Chicago, so that’s something else I’ve learnt. Thank you once again for providing another educational and informative post about a brilliant author. Keep up the good work 😊

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Thank you, Malc, for your wonderful comments! There are quite a few Noble Prize winners, so I will entertain you for a while. I like your posts too, and your witty remarks.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Thank you Joanna and I’m already looking forward to your next gem.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Hemingway, one of the best.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. Thank you, Adelheid, for commenting on the greatness of Ernest Hemmingway.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I love your dedication in collecting information you share with us.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. A fantastic account Joanna. Thank you again.

    Liked by 3 people

  15. Thank you, Peter, for your kind comment.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Ernest Hemingway. Yeah, great author. As a man, he had his demons. Good to know that it’s possible to climb into bed with them and still have a great literary career.
    I share your interest in this man. Thanks for lighting up these elements of his life for me, Joanna (by the way, what does ‘gabychops’ mean?).
    Robert.

    Liked by 4 people

  17. I agree with your views, Joanna! I’ve yet to read ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’ and look forward to it. I love how you emphasised on select quotes and phrases, they really help capture the importance of Hemingway as a literary icon!
    Wonderfully informative as always! Can’t wait to read more!

    Liked by 3 people

  18. Thank you, Robert, for your interesting comments! Also, for making me laugh with funny musings in your post. As my hedgehog,(no flees! ) was such an angel in character, I called him after
    the great angel, Gabriel, since Gaby, then as he inspired my blog, I named it a bit foolishly – Gabychops, and now I am stuck with the name I don’t like, that is “chops” not “Gaby.”
    If you have a chance, you can find in the Archives what he looked like when being held upside down, tummy up, in my arms.

    Joanna

    Like

  19. Once more I’ll say I really like how you go about posting information. I invariably learn something new and for this I can only thank you with all my heart 🙏❤️🙏

    Liked by 3 people

  20. Thank you, Deepthy, for your lovely comments! There will be many interesting writers and the books featured that will follow today’s post, but please Deepthy, read last week’s post about Tagore!

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Sweet story. 😊
    Chops means the lower part of the face (unless you mean (but I don’t suppose you do): “off with his head!”).
    You’ll have to sende.a link to that post. You have a much better chance of finding it than me. 😃

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Yes, Robert, I will, when I finish in a day or two answering all emails about my post.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  23. A great tribute to a man of complex and deep emotion.

    Liked by 2 people

  24. Thank you, Carolyn, for your kind comment.

    Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Like

  25. Starting the part 2 of the Great Books series with beautiful quotes of Ernest Hemingway and Martin and video on Inspiration Journey set the tone for the rest of this beautiful post.

    Incidentally, Joanna, I had read “A Farewell to Arms” during my college days. I still remember how he had weaved a love story against the backdrop of WW I depicting contradictory human emotions like war and love. I had not read his other works or his personal life and romance, but the excerpts given by you entice me to explore further.

    Finally I love your mantra that shows how generous, charitable and compassionate you are. Keep it up, Joanna! There are very few people like you. Thank you for bringing one more interesting post. Looking forward to more in weeks to come.

    Liked by 2 people

  26. Of course! Looking forward to that! I definitely will!
    P.S you can call me D!

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Thank you, Kaushal, for your priceless comments! And I have to tell you that I feel very lucky to know you as there are very few people as wise and interesting as you are. There are writers that will test your literary knowledge in the next few weeks, and one post dealing with one writer will be read by several thousand readers, just to give you clue, think “Portuguese”.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  28. Thank you, I started calling you D in the old days!

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Captivating post. Thanks for the tip.

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Thank you, Gail, for your kind comment.

    Greatly appreciated.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  31. Of course! Haha, you did! I was afraid you didn’t recognise me 😂

    Liked by 1 person

  32. Dear D, I have a memory of an elephant, and I remember all the things you wrote about yourself.

    At some point, you stopped reading and commenting on my posts, and I did not want to harass you with unwanted attention.

    Do you remember how delighted you were when I told you the longest word in the German language that means improving things for the sake of doing something but making it worse?

    Joanna

    Like

  33. Wonderful post, Joanna, and I haven’t read “For Whom the Bell Tolls” but I plan to this year.

    Liked by 2 people

  34. Thank you, Lauren, for your kind comment!

    Greatly appreciated!

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  35. Indeed Books are loyal.
    In fact I have realised, experienced that Books are like life saving drugs.
    In my posts “My journey through books-” I have mentioned that Books are saviour.
    What is in a book?
    Wisdom only 😅
    Thank you so much for sharing this post.
    I will go through.
    Regards 🙏

    Liked by 2 people

  36. I have read the old man and the sea
    Marvelous.😀🙏

    Liked by 1 person

  37. That’s interesting to know, Joanna!
    I’m sorry about that – I took a break from my blog to focus on school and exams. I’m done now and have resumed blogging.

    Aw yes! I don’t remember the word though, just a vague memory of it!

    Liked by 1 person

  38. Dear D,

    I am glad that you are back, and VERSHLIMMBESSERUNG – is an attempt to improve that only makes things worse.

    Joanna

    Liked by 1 person

  39. Thank you! I won’t forget it again, I promise! It is a fascinating word.

    Liked by 1 person

  40. You’re welcome, Joanna! Thanks for your generous words. It’s a pleasure to connect with you. I’m not sure, but I guess, the writer in question may be Saramago. But I’m sure, your selection will always be wise and interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

  41. Apologies but no, it is someone VERY VELL known!

    Liked by 1 person

  42. Ok, will wait for a week.

    Liked by 1 person

  43. You’re inspiring me to add more books to my reading list. 📚

    Liked by 2 people

  44. Some writers carry more just by the weight they have put into their writings, long after they are gone. And we can assume how much he must have lived. Honestly, i could only read ‘The Snows of Kilimanjaro’ in school but what I came across was agony that I was experiencing in my mind for the first time as I went through reading. I haven’t forgotten it. It was so true that its impression i.e his name got pressed in my memory like a scar on skin.
    I may start reading him someday Joanna. But Its unexplainable to me how I feel a strange connectedness with his life and writing. And I know I am not alone.

    Thank you Joanna for this series. As through these writers, we reveal some of ourselves little by little.

    Liked by 2 people

  45. You’re welcome. 🍃🌸

    Liked by 1 person

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