Tag Archives: Ernest Hemingway

Books from the past few weeks

A few more books purchased over the past couple of weeks:

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  • Mary Wolstonecraft –  A Vindication of the Rights of Men & A Vindication of the Rights of Woman     50p
  • Iain Banks –  The Wasp Factory     40p
  • Oscar Wilde –  The Happy Prince     20p
  • Ernest Hemingway –  The Old Man and the Sea     99p
  • Jeanette Winterson –  Sexing the Cherry     50p
  • Virago at 40: A Celebration     50p
  • George and Weedon Grossmith –  The Diary of a Nobody     50p
  • Laurie Lee –  Cider with Rosie     50p
  • S.E. Hinton –  The Outsiders     Free (swapped with Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland)
  • Ross Raisin –  God’s Own Country     Free (swapped with Through the Looking Glass)

The last two came from a book swap we’ve had at work for the past week, and I swapped my individual copies of Lewis Carroll’s wonderful work, as I’ve also got an Oxford Classics edition with both volumes in one book.

Interestingly, the Hinton book is one that I recognised but didn’t know why, and eventually realised it’s because I’d seen it advertised on the Penguin Classics website. This, however, is a Puffin edition, which I thought was interesting, showing again that the distinction between children’s books and adult texts is often blurred. I feel that I should do a post about that soon.

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New purchases

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I was actually going to have put this post up yesterday, but if I had, then I’d have had to post another today, as I got the last 5 of these books this afternoon. In all, these are:

  • Three Victorian Poets (containing poems by Tennyson, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, and Robert Browning)     50p
  • Timothy Donnelly –  The Cloud Corporation (poetry)     50p
  • Anthony Burgess –  The Devil’s Mode     50p
  • Daphne Du Maurier –  The Birds & other stories     £1.49
  • Ernest Hemingway –  A Farewell to Arms     50p
  • Jane Austen –  Pride and Prejudice     50p
  • Jeanette Winterson –  Written on the Body     50p
  • Virginia Woolf –  Mrs Dalloway     99p
  • Jack Kerouac –  Maggie Cassidy     99p

The first book of poems is actually a student book, with activities and questions in, and has been annotated, but I got it simply because there are two of Robert Browning’s poems in it (‘My Last Duchess’ and ‘The Laboratory’) that both my partner and I studied at high school.

Also, I do already own a Wordsworth Classics edition of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ (which I have read), but this one is an Oxford University Press edition (always a bonus) and matches the copy of ‘Sense and Sensibility’ that I got a few weeks ago (see my previous post). Similarly, the copy of ‘Mrs Dalloway’ that I bought today is also an Oxford University Press edition, and makes up somewhat for the fact that I missed out on a copy of this about a month ago. Annoyingly, that one was ony 25p. Ho-hum.

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2013- Electric Puppet’s first 5 months in review

2014

Well- it’s New Year’s Eve, and time to reflect on what has gone on over the past year. For my family, this has been a big year, as we left the comfort and splendour of Oxford to return to our home city of Stoke-on-Trent; I graduated from university; I got my first job; we decided where we want to go with our life in the near and more distant future, thanks to an American man and his family on YouTube; I completed my first book of poetry, which had been languishing prior to this summer; I took the plunge and begun this blog, which is something I’ve wanted to do for a while; and have got back in contact with several family members that I haven’t seen for the best part of a decade thanks to Facebook. It has been eventful, and had also been emotional and tiring for all of us. Also, with any luck, next year should be just as eventful- beginning work; trying to get my book published; endeavouring to write the novel and short story collection that I’ve been planning for a month or so; and getting married. Yes: my partner and I are getting married next year!

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In terms of this blog, I will be getting up several ‘Thoughts on…’ posts for the books I have read recently- the first two Adrian Mole books, Penelope Lively’s ‘Heat Wave’, Jack Kerouac’s ‘On the Road’, and Tove Jansson’s ‘Finn Family Moomintroll’- in the new year, and hopefully will get the first few up on New Year’s Day. For now, though, I thought that I would highlight a selection of posts from this blog that have proved popular, may have been overlooked, or are of relative interest for me.

I think that’s enough links to my other posts to be getting on with for now. Anyway- check some of these out if you haven’t already, or have a browse of the blog and see what you come across. Also, you can follow Electric Puppet on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/electricpuppetblog

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Lastly, here are a few fellow bloggers that I’ve come across in the past few months that you may find of interest:

Don’t Bend, Ascend

These Bones of Mine

Bones Don’t Lie

A Corner Of Tenth-Century Europe (written by one of my Anglo-Saxon lecturers from Oxford; he has since moved on to work at Birmingham University)

Museum Postcard

Prehistories

Interesting Literature

I hope you have a very happy New Year, and that 2014 will be good for you.

Image: The Telegraph

Image: The Telegraph

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Thoughts on Ernest Hemingway’s ‘The Torrents of spring’

the torrents of spring

Erm… right… hmm. To begin this post, I will say that I don’t think that this was perhaps the best book I could have read to introduce myself to Hemingway’s oeuvre. However, this isn’t to say that it is a bad work, because it isn’t. I just think that this doesn’t do justice to his reputation. 

‘The Torrents of Spring’ is a novella published in 1926 that- according to the introduction to the edition shown above- was written as a parody of Sherwood Anderson’s 1925 novel ‘Dark Laughter’ and can be seen as a rejection of the authors that made up Hemingway’s social circuit, and acted as his teachers and his literary advisors. I don’t know the aforementioned novel, but was still able to see where the author was at least parodying something. For example, the redundancy of rhetorical questions is laughable even for a parody, but they do manage to show the particular pointlessness of the characters’ lives and reduce serious thoughts and situations to scenes of comedic patheticness:

They were a hardy race, those Scots, deep in their mountain fastnesses. Harry Lauder and his pipe. The Highlanders in the Great War. Why had not he, Scripps, been in the war? That was where that chap Yogi Johnson had it on him. The war would have meant much to him, Scripps. Why hadn’t he been in it? Why hadn’t he heard of it in time. Perhaps he was too old.

This is perhaps best summed up by quoting the last few lines of the book:

Mandy talking on. Telling literary reminiscences. Authentic incidents. They had the ring of truth. But were they enough? Scripps wondered. She was his woman. But for how long? Scripps wondered. Mandy talking on in the beanery. Scripps listening. But his mind straying away. Straying away. Straying away. Where was it straying? Out into the night. Out into the night.

Similarly, the repetition of the line ‘She would never hold him’ in relation to Diana and Scripp’s relationship adds a note of futility and shows the pathetic nature again of their lives and her defeatist attitude towards both herself and her husband. If it was indeed Hemingway’s intention to create characters that the reader does not believe in or care about, then he succeeded brilliantly.

The plot of the novella is a simple and yet vaguely absurd one, with the protagonist Scripps O’Neil embarking on a journey by foot to Chicago following the end of his marriage, and then finding work in the town of Petoskey at a pump factory. On the way here, he picks up an injured bird and decides to keep it under his coat, and later marries a waitress named Diana who works in the town’s beanery. She attempts to learn about literature in order to please her new husband, but he gradually looses interest in her in favour of another waitress named Mandy. In the penultimate chapter, the character of Yogi Johnson gets over his impotence when he sees a naked squaw, and decides to follow her into the night- gradually disrobing as he does so, and leading the reader to the conclusion that he is going to rape her. Despite the seriousness of this scene and the commentary that it makes upon the treatment of Native, First-Nation Peoples in the US, it cannot come across initially as anything but farcical. Indeed, the plot is somewhat generic, and is highlighted to a great degree by the several ‘Author’s note to the reader’ sections that reinforce the fact that this is only a story, and not to be seen as anything more.

One point that I did find interesting about this book was that despite parodying the literature of over 80 years ago, its style is remarkably prescient now, and does remarkably pastiche the ‘chick-lit’ novels of recent years that seem to reproduce like bacteria on the shelves of supermarkets, airport bookshops and W.H.Smith. For this reason, I think that the novella still works now, even if the aim of its sarcasm is different and imposed by the reader and not the author.

It may seem from the start of this post that I don’t like this book, but this is not strictly true. It is something that I would read again (in part due to its brevity), and which gave me a certain sense of delight once I got into it a bit, but I don’t think that it is something that should be read without having familiarised yourself with some of Hemingway’s more famous works first, as it doesn’t display his style or provide anything that says his other works would be worth reading. I will try some of his other works, but with some interest and trepidation.

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A few more books

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Just a few more books:

  • Ernest Hemingway-  The Torrents of Spring     50p
  • Tove Jansson-  Finn Family Moomintroll     50p
  • Henry James-  The Turn of the Screw and other stories     50p
  • Geoffrey Chaucer-  The Canterbury Tales     50p
  • J.R.R. Tolkien-  Roverandom     50p
  • J.R.R. Tolkien-  The Silmarillion     50p

I know that the Moomintroll series are for children, but I loved them when I read them quite a few years ago, and thought that a copy of one of them for 50p was too good a chance to turn down. Also, in terms of ‘The Silmarillion’: I have read ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘The Lord of the Rings’ (and I hope to ‘reclaim’ my old and battered copies of these next week from my parents’), but despite owning an old hard-back edition of this work, I have never attempted it as I’ve just been overfaced by it. Hopefully, the purchase of a new, less cumbersome softback edition may prompt me to have another go!

Oh- I’ve also nearly finished ‘Heart of Darkness’, so there should be a review up of this soon. I also mean to get a few thoughts up on Jostein Gaarder’s ‘Through a Glass, Darkly’ which I read the other week, and will endeavour to do this as well.

 

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