Today marks what would be the 119th birthday of the master wordsmith, and Nobel Prize-winner, Ernest Hemingway. I am a longtime devotee of the man who asked his friends to call him “Papa,” though he has fallen distressingly out of favor in recent years. Perhaps it’s a byproduct of the general decay of reading culture in the United States, or perhaps it’s what appears to be a lessening emphasis on the foundational literature of my country in the nation’s schools, but it is a tragedy nonetheless.
Whatever you happen to be reading right now, I’d like to invite you to pick up something by Hemingway when it’s time to read something new. Whether you’ve read his work before, or not, it’s likely you’ll discover something new in his words. Though I have read and reread Hemingway‘s writing many times over the decades, I still learn something every time I return to him.
I will leave you with the opening sentences of Hemingway’s most familiar classic, A Farewell to Arms (link). I think you’ll find it enough to draw you into the larger work.
In the late summer of that year we lived in a house in a village that looked across the river and the plain to the mountains. In the bed of the river there were pebbles and boulders, dry and white in the sun, and the water was clear and swiftly moving and blue in the channels. Troops went by the house and down the road and the dust they raised powdered the leaves of the trees. The trunks of the trees too were dusty and the leaves fell early that year and we saw the troops marching along the road and the dust rising and leaves, stirred by the breeze, falling and the soldiers marching and afterward the road bare and white except for the leaves.