Famously, in an interview with George Plimpton for the Paris Reviewin 1958, Hemingway somewhat disingenuously denied that titles came to him in the process of writing. Instead, he claimed that he made a list of titles only after completing a draft (Plimpton 125). While we have no way of knowing the exact date for the 40 plus entries on the handwritten list preserved in the JFK, parts of the list seem to have been compiled at different times. However, even if that entire list was put together after he had finished writing the holograph manuscript in August 1928, four titles appear on the manuscript itself: The World’s Room; Nights and Forever; The Hill of Heaven; and A Separate Peace. These four at least were surely in Hemingway’s mind well before the novel was finished, and thus we can presume they provide some insight into the author’s intentions during the writing process. Of course, an author’s intentions can and do evolve during a project; nevertheless, working titles, even if discarded at the end, can serve as a necessary compass to guide the author’s progress as he writes and, for our purposes, provide fascinating insights into his thoughts and intentions.
At least some of the titles on the long list probably did not make their appearance until after the first holograph of the novel was completed in late August 1928, and some of these are clearly “shitty titles,” as Hemingway himself labeled them on one of the title sheets. But some, we can safely assume, Hemingway more seriously considered than others, so we will select a few candidates for discussion, in addition to the four on the holograph, which we believe were particularly compelling in the author’s mind.
It was not until Hemingway’s manuscript materials at the JFK were finally opened to public examination in the 1970s that we became fully aware of the range of his thinking on how to title the novel that became A Farewell to Arms. Michael Reynolds in Hemingway’s First War(295-296) and Bernard Oldsey in Hemingway’s Hidden Craft: The Writing of A Farewell to Arms (11-34) began the work of identifying the sources of these titles. Paul Smith added some brief but cogent comments in 1982 (“Almost All is Vanity”), and H.R Stoneback added his own instructive interpretations in 1989 (“‘From Lovers’ Sonnets’”). As Oldsey and Stoneback forcefully insist, Hemingway, with any writing project, invariably spent considerable energy debating the relative merits of title options. Thus, in spite of assertions to the contrary by Michael Reynolds, we can be sure that any title seriously considered would have carried enough inherent meaning for us to spend some energy discussing it.[i] With this as a preamble, below are our most compelling candidates for among the list of alternate titles for Hemingway’s second major novel.
The World’s Room: This apparently was the working title during most if not all the writing of the holograph manuscript, from March through August 1918, and it would have been an intriguing, if essentially very dark, choice. The source is the ballad “Edward, Edward,” included in the Oxford Book of English Verse(Quiller-Couch 425-427). There are many other variants of this old ballad, and Stoneback, singer-songwriter-scholar extraordinaire, seems to prefer the Child Ballad “Edward” over the version included in the OBEVas the source, but in our view there’s little reason to believe Hemingway was thinking of any other version than the one in the OBEV. All renditions convey a dialogue between Edward and his mother, withholding the most pertinent details of his murderous deed till the end, but the OBEV version, unlike many other variants, contains the phrase “the warld’s room” (426). In addition, it has another key difference. In the Child ballad (and most other versions) the crime is fratricide: Edward has murdered his brother. But in the OBEVversion, apparently drawn from Bishop Thomas Percy’s Reliques of Ancient English Poetry(1765), the crime is patricide: Edward has murdered his father. Edward accepts the consequences of his crime and prepares to set his “feet in yonder boat,” presumably to die in expiation for the murder he has committed. When his mother asks what he will leave behind for his wife and children, he replies, “The warld’s room, let them beg through life” (426); in other words, he’s leaving them homeless to their own devices. How does this connect to Hemingway’s novel? Perhaps Hemingway was thinking that “the world’s room” is what Frederic is left with after the deaths of his lover and their child. However, Catherine and the child, who by dying have left Frederic, are guiltless. Frederic, the one left behind, is the one with the boatload of guilt. So there is not a direct correspondence between the figures in the ballad and the figures in the novel. That could be the chief reason why Hemingway rejected the phrase as a title, as Stoneback suggests. Paul Smith essentially agrees, though he does point out a slender biographical relevance in the ballad, in that Hemingway, following Pauline’s traumatic childbirth experience in June 1928, left his wife and newborn son in Arkansas as he set out alone for hunting, fishing, and finishing his novel in Wyoming (76). Maybe so, but there’s a stronger case that links Hemingway’s biography with “Edward, Edward” as it appears in the OBEV and with Hemingway’s novel: the apparent dysfunctionality of Edward’s and Frederic’s families. In the final stanza, Edward leaves his mother with the “curse of hell,” clearly implicating her in the patricide he has committed. In A Farewell to Arms, Frederic tells Catherine he doesn’t have a father, but a step-father, and he is mum on the subject of his mother. The only relative he seems to have a connection with, and only a financial one at that, is his grandfather. Thus, if Hemingway had indeed chosen The World’s Roomas his title, with the poem’s patricide and the mother’s complicity in the murder, the title would seem to have underlined Frederic’s absent father (probably dead, since he has been replaced by a stepfather) and his completely unmentioned mother. Though these details get only brief attention in the novel, they are certainly beneath the surface of Frederic’s character and should not be regarded as insignificant. All we know with certainty is that Frederic and Catherine assure each other they won’t ever have to meet one another’s family. We will discuss this point at greater length as we come to it (see Note 135:6-13).
Given that Hemingway’s own relationship with his parents had deteriorated to a new low by early 1928, following his divorce from his first wife, Hadley, and his affair with and marriage to his second wife, Pauline, it’s hard not to read an autobiographical subtext to Frederic’s relationship with his family. Nevertheless, Hemingway seemed to reconnect with his parents following their chance reunion in Key West, at a time when he was well into the middle of writing the first draft of AFTA. As a result, in the summer of 1928, things decidedly improved between him and his parents. Their correspondence greatly increased over the ensuing months, during which time Pauline gave birth to their son Patrick (and nearly died doing so), and Ernest’s father, Ed, nursed hopes in letters to Ernest that the two of them could spend some quality time together on a proposed fishing trip to the Smoky Mountains (Letter, Clarence Hemingway to EH, 9 Sept. 1928; Reynolds, American Homecoming195). But then, in December, as Hemingway was in the midst of making revisions and typing up the manuscript to AFTA, came the dark news that his father had committed suicide, and Ernest was laden with guilt, which he then bitterly deflected onto his mother for the rest of his life. All of this may have been too much of a dark connection to use The World’s Roomas the book’s title. At his father’s funeral, he told his family his new novel would be titled A Farewell to Arms, which was arguably a better choice anyway.
Every Night and All and Nights and Forever: Reynolds, Oldsey, and Stoneback seem to agree that these titles come from the same source, “A Lyke-Wake Dirge,” in the Oxford Book of English Verse(443-444). The ballad includes the repeated lines “Every nighte and alle” and “Christe receive thy saule” as the second and fourth lines of every stanza. “Nights and Forever” would seem to be another, more modern way of saying “Every Night and All.” So we will agree with Reynolds, Oldsey, and Stoneback and treat them as one and the same. Nights and Foreverappears on the same manuscript as The World’s Room, so Hemingway may have considered it another working title. Stoneback correctly identifies the crux of the ballad and the crux of the novel: the question of a person’s soul. As a dirge for a wake, the ballad appropriately relates to Frederic’s state of mind over the course of time between the events of the novel and the writing of it, however long that may be. In this view, the novel becomes Frederic’s dirge (funeral song) for Catherine. Stoneback believes it reflects first of all Frederic’s concern for the state of Catherine’s soul, since she is a declared atheist and insists to the very end that she has no religion. But he also insists that the ballad conveys Frederic’s anxiety over the state of his own soul, which must pass through the wasteland of the “Whinny-muir,” cross the Bridge of Dread, and endure the fires of Purgatory before it can be received by Christ. However, the key word in the ballad is “if,” which begins four of the nine stanzas; that is, salvation awaits “if” the person has lived with Christian charity and love. We can’t be sure. The state of the soul under consideration hangs in the balance. As to the state of Frederic’s and Catherine’s souls, we will postpone discussion until the appropriate time in Chapter 41. For now, we can certainly say that the novel raises the big questions about the soul and eternity, which these titles and their source reveal. In addition, nights, and the difference between the night and the day, are important thematic elements in the story that Frederic narrates to us. So Nights and Forever, if it had been the novel’s title, would have highlighted the eternal questions surrounding the nature of God and the nature of eternity, and that would have given it a strong claim to the title. However, we agree with Stoneback that “A Lyke-Wake Dirge” was too obscure for the allusion to be caught by the average reader, and, without that allusion, the titles are perhaps better suited for a pop song than a novel of profound seriousness and the color of tragedy (61).
The Hill of Heaven: Reynolds, Oldsey, and Stoneback all identify the source of this title as Child Ballad 243, “Daemon Lover,” also known as “James Harris” or “House Carpenter.”[ii] Only Stoneback devotes much space to discussing the implications of it, but even he sees little relevance between the narrative of the novel and that of the ballad, a tale of a woman who believes her love, James Harris, has died at sea, and so she marries a carpenter and gives birth to a child. Seven years later, James Harris, either in spirit or in the flesh, returns to claim her, tempting her with riches and promises, in some versions, to see the “banks of Italie.” She deserts her husband and child, only to recognize that she is cursed, that she will never reach “the hill of heaven.” How this relates to the characters and events of A Farewell to Armsis difficult to say, other than, as Stoneback surmises, there is a connection between James Harris’s seven-year absence and the length of time it has taken Frederic Henry to tell his story. That would seem to be a very slender thread on which to hang a title. It could be that Hemingway considered the ballad to reflect Frederic’s state of mind after the events of the novel, that is, the feeling that he too will never reach the “hill of heaven” and is now damned to the “hill of hell,” but that interpretation seems too bleak for Stoneback to consider. He prefers to see Frederic as progressing towards redemption.
There is another possible source, no less bleak, unmentioned till now—the “Pyrrhus Speech” in Hamlet, Act 2, Scene 2, in which the chief player recites a number of lines at the request of Hamlet. The speech recounts the final hour of the fall of Troy and the killing of Priam by Pyrrhus in powerful and bloody terms, concluding with these lines:
Out, out, thou strumpet, Fortune! All you gods,
In general synod take away her power,
Break all the spokes and fellies from her wheel,
And bowl the round nave down the hill of heaven
As low as to the fiends. (II, ii, 464-468)[iii]
Though we cannot be certain which source Hemingway intended, this would hardly be a less reasonable choice than “Daemon Lover.” It would not, for one thing, be the only time in Hemingway’s career that he turned to Hamlet for a potential title. A working title of For Whom the Bell Tollswas The Undiscovered Country, certainly taken from Hamlet’s “To be or not to be” soliloquy, which speaks of “death,/ The undiscovered country, from whose bourn/ No traveler returns…” (III, I, 78-80).[iv] The Pyrrhus speech has the tragic connection to war going for it, the grief over a noble death. Though the words “hill of heaven” may conjure glorious visions of sunshine and daisies and the upward progress of the soul toward God, the Hamlet allusion in contrast only calls forth descent to death and destruction, foul fortune and damnation. No doubt, when Hemingway was considering The Hill of Heaven, whether with the ballad or Hamlet as his source, he was seeing the narrative before him through an especially dark lens. In the final analysis, as a title, Hill of Heavenlacks the multi-dimensional meanings of some of the other candidates, especially his ultimate choice. Better to reject it.
A Separate Peace: This potential title is the last of the four (includingThe World’s Room, Nights and Forever, and Hill of Heaven) that appear in the holograph manuscript. As such, it deserves to be considered one of the more serious contenders for the ultimate title of the novel. Hemingway had used this phrase before, in 1923, in the context of the “Chapter VI” vignette in In Our Time:
“Senta Rinaldi. Senta. You and me we’ve made a separate peace.” Rinaldi lay still in the sun breathing with difficulty. “Not patriots.” Nick turned his head carefully away smiling sweatily. Rinaldi was a disappointing audience. (CSS 106)
Nick is making a joke, and Hemingway is presuming we have some knowledge of the historical milieu of the First World War: the term “separate peace” had begun appearing in English language newspapers soon after 21 November 1917, when the new Russian government under the Bolsheviks sent a message to the French stating its intentions to seek a “separate peace” with the Germans (Gilbert, First World War384). Obviously this was received with great chagrin by Russia’s allies, France and Great Britain. Nick’s attempt at sardonic humor falls flat, however, since Rinaldi (obviously not the same Rinaldi who appears in AFTA) seems unconscious and possibly near death. The phrase also appears within the text of AFTA, on page 211 (See Note 211:14-15), after Frederic Henry has deserted and is riding a train to find Catherine Barkley in Stresa. So the title would aptly describe Frederic’s actions in moving away from the war towards his love with Catherine. However, the title lacks any of the literary allusions Hemingway seems to have preferred in his titles, at least when he could find ones appropriate to his purposes. Another reason to reject it is that it only pertains to the war narrative in the novel, not the love story, that is, unless we consider it to contain an unpleasant pun on “piece” (noted by Reynolds and Oldsey), which would have cast an anti-feminist shadow over Frederic’s relationship with Catherine. The pun might be apt for Frederic’s attitude during the preliminary stage of their relationship, but we should be thankful Hemingway rejected it. John Knowles later used the phrase for his 1959 coming-of-age novel, A Separate Peace.
Disorder and Early Sorrow: This lugubrious phrase makes the list of strongest title candidates because it appears on a typescript of page one of the novel preserved at the Harry Ransom Center of the University of Texas. The page is undated, though it is surely an early typed version completed prior to those with A Farewell to Armsas the typed title. This copy has “Disorder and Early Sorrow” typed at the top of the novel’s opening paragraph, but the phrase has been struck through and “A FAREWELL TO ARMS” hand printed in pencil above it. According to Hemingway’s handwritten note in ink on the top left and right corners of the manuscript, the page may have been a gift to Bill Bird. The notation in the top right corner reads: “Page 1 of the original Mss. Typed by the master himself practically without mistakes. For Bird if he wants it with much affection” (Harry Ransom Center, Ernest Hemingway Collection: Series I, Box 2, Folder 2). In the opposite top corner, Hemingway wrote, “First Edition. Suitable for hanging in bars” and signed it. In other words, Disorder and Early Sorrowmust have superseded earlier working titles that appeared on the holograph manuscript—The World’s Room, Nights and Forever, and A Separate Peace—and survived until relatively late in the process. The earliest known date on which Hemingway shared with others that the title would be A Farewell to Armswas mid-December 1928, at the time of his father’s funeral. There is no doubt as to where Hemingway found this title. As Reynolds and Oldsey both recognized, he directly lifted it from Thomas Mann’s 1925 short story “Disorder and Early Sorrow,” in which Mann’s protagonist, Dr. Abel Cornelius, a Professor of History and father of four, struggles futilely to maintain his and his family’s balance against the forces of “progress and change” (Death in Venice and Seven Other Stories196). His heart belongs to “the coherent, disciplined, historic past” (189) rather than to the “disordered” modern world. Furthermore, the story epitomizes, as Oldsey states, “the disillusionment that followed World War I,” indicative of a “social and intellectual wound” (24). In that context, we can see why Hemingway would have considered this a strong candidate. Certainly disorder and sorrow are appropriate to Hemingway’s theme in A Farewell to Arms. However, as Oldsey concludes, Mann’s story was all too recently published when Hemingway was writing A Farewell to Arms, and this title was too directly borrowed and perhaps “Teutonically clinical” (24) to use. However, we can surmise that there must have been very compelling reasons moving Hemingway to use this as his title, in spite of the reasons not to. Certainly Hemingway was a great admirer of Thomas Mann, whose classic 1901 novel Buddenbrooks: The Decline of a Familywas one of those volumes he said, in 1935, that he would “rather read again for the first time…than have an assured income of a million dollars a year” (“Remember Shooting” 161-162). The Buddenbrook family motto, inscribed above the door of their impressive residence, is “Dominus providebit,”“The Lord will provide” (39). The motto becomes painfully ironic as the family’s fortunes deteriorate steadily over four generations in the 19th century. As a result, the central figures of Thomas Buddenbrook and his sister, Toni, both struggle with their religious faith, and the questions of divine will and the immortality of the soul are central to Buddenbrooksas they are to A Farewell to Arms. In addition, Hemingway’s novel can also be said to reference the decline of a family—Frederic Henry’s family—not necessarily in a financial sense, given the support Frederic’s grandfather supplies through sight drafts, but through the apparent disintegration of Frederic’s connection to it. A Farewell to Armscan be read on one level as the story of one family lost and another family gained only to be lost yet again.
Nevertheless, although Buddenbrooks was apparently Hemingway’s favorite work by the German author, we could argue that the most influential of Thomas Mann’s books on the composition of Hemingway’s novel was The Magic Mountain, published in German in 1924, translated into English in 1927, then read by Hemingway soon thereafter in February 1928, according to Sylvia Beach’s records. William Adair has written convincingly of the influence of The Magic Mountainupon Hemingway’s later war novel, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and suggests that Mann was “on Hemingway’s mind throughout most of his career” (431). It is not a reach to suggest that The Magic Mountain also had a significant and more immediate impact on the writing of A Farewell to Arms. In fact, it may have been the last book Hemingway read before he gave up writing the picaresque Jimmy Breen novel (New Slain Knight) he had been working on for months and thus switched instead to a narrative about an ambulance driver on the Italian front in World War I who deserts and escapes to Switzerland. Adair points out that The Magic Mountainis a novel of education, and so is A Farewell to Arms, a point we will take up in some detail in discussing the set of potential titles Hemingway considered with “Education” in them. The relativity of time is also a central motif in both Mann’s and Hemingway’s novels. Another connection is that the father of the protagonist, Hans Castorp, dies, and Hans is placed under the care of his grandfather, much as Frederic Henry is dependent upon his grandfather for financial support.[v] Similarly noteworthy is the way Mann, in The Magic Mountain, sets Castorp between the antagonistic views of Lodovico Settembrini, a proponent of science, reason, and progress, and those of Leo Naphta, the voice of religious idealism and faith (682). In a manner comparable to the roles of Rinaldi and the priest in A Farewell to Arms, Settembrini and Naphta seem to compete for the soul of Castorp. The conflict culminates in a duel between the two antagonists, with Castorp as a neutral observer, but when Settembrini refuses to fire his pistol at Naphta, the latter turns his pistol on himself and commits suicide (696). Of course, this contrasts with Hemingway’s novel, where neither Rinaldi’s rationalism nor the priest’s faith seems to have a stronger hold on Frederic than the other one has. Nevertheless, there is also the correspondence of the settings of the two books. Virtually the entirety of Mann’s novel takes place in seclusion high in the mountains of Switzerland, isolated from the rest of the world in the Berghof sanitorium for patients sick with tuberculosis, during the lead-up to the Great War. Castorp goes there initially to spend three weeks visiting his sick cousin, but stays seven years after the doctors convince him of his own illness. Interestingly, the novels move in opposite directions. Whereas in A Farewell to Arms, Frederic Henry deserts the army and leaves the war for the Swiss Alps, Hans Castorp at the end, having lost the woman he loves, departs the Alps and goes to the war, where he will presumably die along with the millions of others. In sum, The Magic Mountainmay have influenced Hemingway to write his own study of the conflict between the objective and the subjective, and he may have wished to pay some kind of tribute to Mann by using one of his titles as his own. After all, he had done much the same thing for Turgenev in his title The Torrents of Spring. Mann, however, unlike Turgenev, was still very much living and working, too much a contemporary for Hemingway to copy one of his titles and run the risk of being accused of plagiarism rather than of paying tribute.
The Sentimental Education[underlined in the manuscript by Hemingway]; Education of the Flesh; The Carnal Education; and The Sentimental Education of Frederick Henry: These four titles, as Oldsey and Reynolds have noted, certainly allude to Gustave Flaubert’s 1869 novel L’Education Sentimentale, the first of them, of course, being a direct borrowing of the English translation. Flaubert’s novel appears in Reynolds’s list of Hemingway’s reading in both its original French and English translation, along with two other Flaubert volumes, Madame Bovaryand Trois Contes(Hemingway’s Reading 124-125). Although Hemingway is supposed to have said that Flaubert wrote one great book (Madame Bovary) and half a great book (Sentimental Education), both of these novels appear among those he said are necessary for any aspiring writer to read (“Monologue to the Maestro” 189). Ezra Pound was probably the first to direct Hemingway towards Flaubert (Reynolds, Paris Years29-30), but John Dos Passos would have reinforced the recommendation and perhaps Fitzgerald as well.[vi] Certainly, putting the word “Education” in these four titles suggests a persistent awareness in Hemingway that he was writing a Bildungsroman—a novel of education. To further emphasize the connection, Hemingway even provided Frederic Henry with the first name of Flaubert’s protagonist, Fréderic Moreau. Flaubert’s title and Hemingway’s twice directly borrowing of it for his list imply the conflict between the subjective (faith) and objective (reason), by emphasizing the “sentimental” elements of education, the education through “subjective” experience, as opposed to formal education’s primary focus on “objective” knowledge. Traditionally, a “sentimental education” explores what a person learns through the experience of love, and in the case of Flaubert’s Frédéric Moreau, who has unsatisfactory love affairs with at least three different women in the novel, it certainly does. If Hemingway had titled his novel The Sentimental Education of Frederic Henry(in the holograph manuscript, Hemingway goes back and forth between spelling the name Frederick or Frederic), he would certainly have been suggesting that we pay close attention to what Frederic learns about love in his relationship with Catherine Barkley. And there is good reason to do that. However, two of these titles substitute “carnal” or “flesh” for “sentimental,” and if one of those had been selected, the novel may have had a very different tone, perhaps more cynical, a tone suggesting that the relationship between Frederic and Catherine is never anything more than sexually driven. In fact, with The Education of the Flesh, Hemingway was probably also layering in a reference to Samuel Butler’s The Way of All Flesh, that well-known attack on Victorian morality.[vii]
In addition to the Flaubert and Butler allusions, particularly in The Sentimental Education of Frederick Henry, Hemingway is also almost certainly alluding to one of the most influential early 20th century American books, The Education of Henry Adams, as H.R. Stoneback has, with his usual keenness, suggested (63). Stoneback argues that A Farewell to Arms, like the Adams volume, is a “study of Twentieth Century multiplicity,” a phrase that Adams used for his subtitle (63). Adams powerfully presents the conflict between science and faith in his pivotal chapter, “The Virgin and the Dynamo,” an examination of how in the modern world science has replaced religion as the driving force of human creativity and, lamentably, has resulted in the dehumanization of our species.[viii] In other words, Adams’s theme lies at the heart of Hemingway’s subject in A Farewell to Arms, so there should be no surprise if Hemingway would want to pay tribute to Adams. In fact, he had already done so in his short story that most transparently presents science and faith in conflict, “The Doctor and the Doctor’s Wife,” in which, for the one and only time, he provides the full name of Nick Adams’s father—Henry Adams. Yet, a year after he wrote that story, in a 1925 review of Sherwood Anderson’s A Storyteller’s Story, which includes a lengthy quotation from Henry Adams’s book, Hemingway made the claim that all his friends “own and speak of ‘The Education of Henry Adams’ with such solemnity that I have been unable ever to read it” (qtd in Monteiro 91). Michael Reynolds does not include anything by Henry Adams in Hemingway’s Reading. But it’s difficult—nay, impossible—to believe that even by 1925 Hemingway hadn’t read The Education of Henry Adams. Pound, once again, was a strong proponent of Adams’s work (Tytell 108), as was Fitzgerald, who claimed to have met Henry Adams and even included him as a character in This Side of Paradise, thinly disguised as Thornton Hancock. Fitzgerald also titled Part Two of his novel “The Education of a Personage” (153, 239). In short, aside from the fact that almost every writer he knew was talking about Henry Adams in the 1920s, Hemingway’s intense interest in the conflict of science and faith would have led him quickly to Adams and the desire to acknowledge him in a potential title for his novel. And we should add that the twin allusions in the title The Sentimental Education of Frederic Henryprovide Hemingway’s protagonist with his full name.
To return to Flaubert, although The Sentimental Educationas a title would have some appropriateness to the subject of Hemingway’s novel, it is likely that this was not the most influential of Flaubert’s works upon A Farewell to Arms, for the conflict of science and faith is more powerful in Madame Bovary(Hemingway’s favorite Flaubert work). Just as Hemingway’s representatives for science and faith are Rinaldi and the priest, Flaubert personifies science and faith through Homais, the pharmacist, and Bournisien, the village priest. Continually frustrated in her desires for happiness and meaning, Emma seeks guidance from both but without success. Science, through Homais, in fact, can be held partially accountable for her death, since it is Homais’s poison that kills her. The symbolism is most starkly presented when the two antagonists argue over Emma’s dead body, yet neither has been able to ease her suffering (373-379). In the end, after sitting with her corpse opposite each other through the night following her torturous death, they go out together for a meal, with the priest declaring, “We’ll be good friends yet!” (379), a good illustration of Flaubert’s ironic detachment and refusal to take sides.
Another Flaubert work that likely influenced Hemingway on the subject of science and faith is The Temptation of Saint Anthony (See Note 37:6-36), which both satirizes religious beliefs yet presents science as the Devil. A professed agnostic, Flaubert nonetheless maintained a lifelong interest in and sympathy for religious experience, even if he could not put faith in any dogma himself. His own mind, much like Hemingway’s, was too scientific (Brown 350; Lee 203). In bothMadame Bovaryand Saint Anthony, Flaubert refuses to give either science or faith the upper hand. Neither, in his view, is likely to provide ultimate satisfaction and meaning to human existence. To Flaubert, God has removed himself from creation, and existence becomes la blague supérieure—the supreme joke (Lee 205). Ultimately, his attitude sounds much like that expressed by Frederic Henry, especially in passages Hemingway excised from the manuscript before publication. In short, Hemingway found much in common with Flaubert’s thinking and had ample reason to pay tribute to him in his title, but finally chose a title that was less transparently allusive and more poetic.
I have committed Fornication but that was In Another Country and Besides the wench is dead; [and] In Another Country: The source of these potential titles, which Hemingway had already used twice before, once as a title and once as an allusion, is also clear. As Reynolds and Oldsey have duly noted, it is Christopher Marlowe’s The Jew of Malta, although there has been some debate as to whether Hemingway got it directly from Marlowe or from T.S. Eliot’s use of the phrase as an epigraph to his 1915 poem “Portrait of a Lady” (Complete Poems8). In the manuscript listing, Hemingway provides the essence of the full quote (though he changes the pronoun to first person and gets punctuation and capitalization wrong). In his epigraph, Eliot keeps the second person of the original but also gets the punctuation wrong and implies inaccurately that these are the words of a single speaker, who is hesitant to acknowledge his guilt. In Marlowe’s play, the Jew, Barabas, is responsible for various murders, including his own daughter and a convent full of nuns, and Friar Barnardine, who knows of at least one of Barabas’s murders through another person’s confession, is attempting to get Barabas to admit to the crime, but, since he is constrained from sharing knowledge he has gained through the confessional, he can’t use the word “murder.” Barabas, however, slyly deflects the attempt by admitting to the lesser crime of fornication. The text from Marlowe’s play reads thus:
FRIAR BARNARDINE Thou hast committed—
BARABAS Fornication? But that was in another country; and besides, the wench is dead. (Act 4, Scene 1)
It’s certainly possible, perhaps even probable, that Hemingway first came across the lines in Eliot’s poem. He at least knew of Eliot’s use of them, and in the text of A Farewell to Arms, there is reason to believe that he is alluding both to Eliot’s poem and to Marlowe’s play. For Eliot, in “Portrait of a Lady,” the issue seems to be callousness. His implication is that the callousness of Barabas applies to the young male speaker in his poem, who fails to show any real empathy for the older woman reaching out to him for friendship. The poem concludes with the young man’s rumination on the possibility of the woman’s death: “Well! And what if she should die some afternoon/…Would she not have the advantage, after all?” (11). Of course, the woman in Eliot’s poem is no wench, in any sense of the word, nor has any fornication occurred. The point of the epigraph would seem to be that the young man and Barabas are both soulless.
As Catherine lies in the throes of her ill-starred labor and is being examined by her doctor, Frederic is sent outside and descends into a terrifying series of thoughts in which he repeats eleven times Eliot’s exact phrase word for word, “What if she should die” (see Note 274:9-36)
Oldsey contends, based upon Hemingway’s incorrect punctuation of Marlowe’s quote in the list of titles, that Hemingway probably hadn’t read The Jew of Malta, but that argument seems flimsy. Given his obvious fascination with the quote, it would defy credulity to think Hemingway would not have sought out the original and read the play in its entirety to get its full context. His reference to Marlowe in Death in the Afternoon, Hemingway’s next book after A Farewell to Arms, as Shakespeare’s relative equal in literary stature would indicate that he was quite familiar with Marlowe’s oeuvre (DIA73). How did Hemingway intend to use the allusion for the title of his novel? First, of all, it is clear that the Marlowe lines had an extraordinarily powerful hold on him, because, as we have said, he had already made use of them twice: first, in The Sun Also Rises, when Bill Gorton makes a joke about taxidermy, (“…that was in another country and besides all the animals were dead” 75)[ix]and again as the title of his masterful World War I short story “In Another Country” (CSS206). Hemingway seems to have had the allusion in mind from the earliest conception of his novel, as Oldsey has pointed out (26), based upon Carlos Baker’s testimony that Hemingway’s original intent was to produce “another short story like ‘In Another Country’” (Baker 190). That Hemingway was serious about reusing the title of that story for his novel is indicated not only in the fact that it turns up twice on the list, but that it was also eventually used as the title for the German translation of the novel, In einem andern Land(1930), with Hemingway’s full permission, as his 18 February 1930 letter to his German publish makes clear (Letters 4234).[x] In fact, Hemingway would go on to use the allusion to Marlowe yet two more times in his career: in Across the River and Into the Trees, when Colonel Richard Cantwell uses the phrase pejoratively to refer to his ex-wife (196; see also Cirino’s Reading, Note 195:25-26) and again obliquely in The Dangerous Summer, as Mark Cirino has noted (Reading165), where he describes matador Luis Miguel Dominguin killing a bull by placing the blade “solid and perflectly…in aorta country” (DS117). Thus, in addition to seriously considering it as a title for A Farewell to Arms, and approving it as the German title of his novel, Hemingway used Marlowe’s phrase in some form four additional times in published works over the full course of his writing life.[xi] How can we account for Hemingway’s persistent obsession with the quote from Marlowe, if it does not have something to do with Marlowe himself and his work?
Coincidentally, or perhaps not, Christopher Marlowe’s mysterious death was in the literary news of 1925 (the year, it should be noted, that Hemingway first used the “in another country” phrase while writing The Sun Also Rises) with the publication of J. Leslie Hotson’s book The Death of Christopher Marlowe, which would have stirred some talk among Hemingway’s Paris literary crowd. In the book Hemingway would have encountered not only stories of Marlowe’s violent death and alleged espionage activities but also accusations that Marlowe was a seditious atheist—in other words, the kind of Byronic hero after which Hemingway tended to pattern himself. If he hadn’t already read Marlowe, Hotson’s book may have excited his curiosity enough to explore The Jew of Malta, Dr. Faustus, and Tamburlaine, works that provide plenty of evidence that Marlowe held, at the very least, a dark view of religious faith. For example, The Jew of Maltaopens with a prologue by a character named Machevil (a twisting of the name of Niccolò Machiavelli), who lays bare the conflict between reason and faith with his proclamation, “I count religion but a childish toy/ And hold there is no sin but ignorance” (Complete Works248). For his part, Faustus can find no reason in God’s plan (“Che serà serà), thinks “hell’s a fable” (364) and bids, “Divinity, adieu!” (348). Similarly, Tamburlaine, as Marlowe biographer David Riggs has pointed out, “makes a mockery of divine justice” and calls himself on his deathbed “the scourge of God” (Riggs 217; Complete Works240). Tamburlaine has to conquer his fears of death before dying peacefully, but without any apparent reconciliation with God. He remains God’s “scourge.” Barabas and Faustus, on the other hand, both perish violently, some would say at the hands of divine justice, but, like Tamburlaine, each is a compelling figure who commands our attention and forces us to contemplate the central questions regarding faith and reason. For Hemingway, the phrase “In Another Country” may have come to represent opposing forces at the core of human existence: the conflict between the material and immaterial worlds, two separate and irreconcilable countries. These questions remained with him throughout his life and were certainly foremost in his mind as he wrote A Farewell to Arms. In Another Countrywould have been an excellent title for the novel, but, having already been used twice in previously published works, it was edged out by another superb choice, while being allowed to stand, nevertheless, as the title of a foreign translation.[xii]
[i]Michael Reynolds rather surprisingly asserted that “readers should not place undue emphasis on the novel’s title, nor rely on the title’s source as any sort of thematic key to its content. One must keep in mind that by 1929 the exegetical game had not yet begun in earnest, and Hemingway was not choosing a title with academic critics in mind” (First War295). Reynolds also earlier stated, “Neither the rejected titles nor the final title had any influence on the writing of the novel” (65). Oldsey effectively refutes these remarks, describing Reynolds as a victim of “the Pure Scholarship Fallacy. If the titles tell us so little about the themes, content, and composition of A Farewell to Arms,” Oldsey argues, “why bother to search out their sources so assiduously, or indeed list them at all?” (22). For the record, Stoneback agrees with Oldsey on this point, and so do we. Hemingway, we believe, was well-aware of potential resonances in titles and used his own to broaden and deepen the meaning of his works.
[ii]Demon Loverwas an early working title for the novel that was to become F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Beautiful and Damned(Bruccoli, Some Sort of Epic Grandeur106). Later, the working title became The Beautiful Woman Without Mercy, itself an allusion to the Keats poem “La Belle Dame Sans Merci” or Alain Chartier’s original 15th century poem, from which Keats took his title. In the final published version of The Beautiful and Damned, Richard Caramel, a satirical self-portrait of Fitzgerald and friend of protagonist Anthony Patch, is writing a novel titled The Demon Lover(14). Since Anthony Patch attaches the phrase “woman wailing” to Caramel’s title, the allusion there seems to be to the Samuel Taylor Coleridge poem “Kubla Khan,” which describes a “savage place, as holy and enchanted/ As e’er beneath a waning moon was haunted/ By woman wailing for her demon lover.” Of course, Coleridge may well have been alluding to the old ballad “Daemon Lover.”
[iii]Shakespeare was probably relying on and paying tribute to Christopher Marlowe’sDidoas a source for these lines—an interesting connection, given Hemingway’s apparent fascination with Marlowe, but probably coincidental. See the note on the rejected title In Another Country.
[iv]Similarly, a case can be made that in The Garden of EdenHemingway took the surname of his protagonist, David Bourne, from this famous soliloquy.
[v]As Adair has pointed out, there is also the same “strong grandfather and weak father” correlation in For Whom the Bell Tolls(443). In addition, the strong grandfather/weak father motif is prominent in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Beautiful and Damned, where protagonist Anthony Patch is almost entirely dependent on the financial largesse of his grandfather Adam Patch, Anthony’s weak, ineffectual father having died when Anthony was eleven.
[vi]See Three Soldiers, where protagonist John Andrews is composing music inspired by Flaubert’s Temptation of Saint Anthony(Dos Passos, Novels370, 386). Also see the Dos Passos memoir, The Best Times, where he lists Flaubert among a select few he classifies as “latterday saints” (Best Times134). For Fitzgerald’s interest in Flaubert, see The Beautiful and Damned, where Anthony Patch is “trying to read ‘L’Education Sentimental’ and something in the book [sends his] thoughts racing” with the urge to call Gloria Gilbert (80).
[vii]An allusion to Butler would have other implications as well, given that his novel Erewhonalso deals with conflicts between science and religion in Victorian society and was heavily influenced by Butler’s reading of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species, as was The Way of All Flesh, a book we know Hemingway read. In the first part of Fitzgerald’s The Beautiful and Damned, Anthony Patch has recently discovered Samuel Butler and is reading Erewhon(11, 30). In addition, given Anthony’s apparent interest in Flaubert (he also reads Sentimental Education), it is possible that his first name is a veiled reference to Flaubert’s Temptation of Saint Anthony.
[viii]Adams also delved deeply into the conflict of science and faith in his underappreciated novel Esther(1884). His protagonist, an agnostic, is caught between two very different suitors—a minister and a scientist, neither of whom she can accept in marriage. We can’t be sure if Hemingway was familiar with this rarely noticed work, especially given that it was originally published under a pseudonym—Francis Snow Compton—and Adams was only posthumously identified as the author in 1918. But if Hemingway was familiar with it, he would have found in it a female protagonist with traits similar to Catherine Barkley’s and a theme resonant with his own in A Farewell to Arms.
[ix]See H.R. Stoneback’s lucid discussion of the allusion to The Jew of Maltain SAR(Reading124-25).
[x]The problem with translating the phrase “A Farewell to Arms” into German is that “Arms” loses its dual meanings appropriate to both love and war. To mean “a farewell to weaponry,” the translation would be Ein Abschied zu den Waffen, but would have no sense of the arms of love. To mean “a farewell to human arms,” the translation would be Ein Abschied zu den Armen, but would lose the sense of military arms. The problem explains why the publisher and Hemingway chose to use In einem andern Landfor the German version of the novel. I am indebted to Deborah Page, University of Cincinnati Professor of German, for help with the translations. In einem andern Landhas the full quote from Marlowe’s play as its epigraph, thus:
Barnardine: Thou has committed—
Barbaras: Fornication: but that was in
another country; and besides the
wench is dead.
The Jew of Malta
[xi]Hemingway also alluded to the Marlowe lines in a 29 August 1927, letter to Archibald MacLeish, where he pejoratively refers to Louise Bryant Bullitt, who claimed she knew Hemingway: “I did know her when her hair was blonde but that was in Constantinople and besides the wench was surrounded by naval officers” (Letters 3273). He may have also been alluding to the lines in a 9 January 1929, letter to Guy Hickock, where he calls his new novel “my long tale of transalpine fornication including the entire war in Italy and so to BED,” the last three words being an allusion to the diary of Samuel Pepys (Baker, Life Story199).
[xii]In a 1957 article, Phyllis Bartlett points out that Marlowe’s lines, in addition to their appearances in Eliot’s and Hemingway’s works, have been used, in various permutations, in literary works by William Faulkner (A Fable1954), John Bayley (In Another Country1955), Charles P. Curtis (A Commonplace Book1957), and Frederic Brown (The Wench is Dead1955). A recent search on Amazon.com turned up at least eight other books with the title In Another Country. Marlowe’s words, as Bartlett said, “go right on shining” (349).