American Literature: Hemingway

If you think A Farewell to Arms is about some dude saying goodbye to his arms, you might want to check out this video. Plus, it's got a talking iceberg. Who doesn't want to see that?

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Transcript

00:30

Illinois and had already kicked his writing career into motion by the time

00:33

he was seventeen and working at a newspaper office in Kansas City in case

00:38

you're wondering this is a newspaper it used to be the way people got the news [Arrow points to man reading a newspaper]

00:41

before TV the internet apps downloads crazy uncles and so on well at eighteen

00:46

Hemingway served with an Italian volunteer ambulance crew on the front

00:50

lines in World War one he was injured by shrapnel and spent several months in the [Hemingway hit by shrapnel and appears in hospital]

00:54

hospital where he fell in love with his nurse of course which would be fodder

00:58

for what would later become one of his most famous novels a farewell to arms

01:02

and more on that later after returning from the war Hemingway continued working

01:06

as a reporter and was sent back overseas to cover international event he would [Hemingway sat in a chair]

01:10

become part of what we know now as The Lost Generation a group of writers and

01:15

artists who couldn't deal with life in America after the war they felt that

01:19

Americans were morally corrupt so they packed up and headed to Europe where [Plane travels from US to Europe]

01:23

Hemingway was already hanging they flooded European cafes and coffee shops

01:27

talking literature and life all day long then they headed to the bars and

01:31

brothels for nightlife most every night being around other authors like F scott

01:35

Fitzgerald James Joyce and Gertrude Stein along with gallons of old rotted [Gertrude with a bottle of wine]

01:40

grapes and/or potatoes ie vodka turbocharged Hemingway's

01:44

creative juices and he started writing more fiction he had great commercial

01:49

success during his lifetime publishing seven novels six short story collection

01:53

and two non fictional works he was honored with a Pulitzer Prize for his [Hemingway celebrating the Pulitzer prize on stage]

01:57

novel the old man in the sea and even won the Nobel Prize for Literature in

02:02

his later life Hemingway was in two plane crashes that didn't end his life

02:06

but left him in a lot of pain.. he got crazy depressed and his already

02:10

substantial drinking habit got worse he removed himself from the public eye by

02:15

retreating to a small town in Idaho where he eventually killed himself in [Hemingways grave appears]

02:19

1961 though he couldn't find it in his heart to live any longer Hemingway sure

02:24

knew how to write about his time on the planet he grabbed life by the hand and

02:29

ran wild well of his seven major works three of the best-known are a farewell [Hemingway novels appear]

02:34

to arms for Whom the Bell Tolls and the old man in the sea I can't read three

02:38

novels in the span of well today so let's do a quick rundown of each one

02:42

here we go a farewell to arms is the story of an American soldier who drives [American soldier driving an ambulance]

02:46

an ambulance for the Italian army seems like we've heard this story line

02:49

somewhere before see Hemingway's actual life anywho the soldiers wounded falls

02:54

in love the nurse ends up deserting his post in the army and getting threatened [Soldier walks away with Nurse and officer threatens soldier]

02:57

with being arrested runs off to Switzerland with the nurse who's

03:00

pregnant with his child by this point and loses both the baby and his one true

03:05

love in childbirth animated Disney musical coming soon not only is this

03:10

book based on Hemingway's personal experiences it reaches a lot of readers

03:14

because of the realistic way in which Hemingway discusses love that's right

03:18

the l-word some readers don't love reading Hemingway stories because [Person picks up Hemingway book]

03:23

they're kind of really depressing but it's what makes them so good too - life and

03:27

love can be tough and Hemingway knew that his books aren't sunshine and [Kitten appears in the sunshine]

03:31

fluffy kittens quite the opposite they're thunderstorms and rabid Leopards

03:37

a farewell des armes became well-loved for its depiction of relationships and

03:41

war and relationships in war while Hemingway having personally experienced

03:46

as much wrote this story with great feeling in sensitivity [Hemingway writing a novel]

03:50

he said all good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really

03:55

happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that

03:59

happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you if you can get so that

04:04

you can give that to people and you are a writer an old Ernie was one heck

04:08

of a writer a farewell to arms has been called the greatest American novel

04:13

to come out of World War one the relationships Hemingway created are just [Glacier discussing relationships]

04:17

so darn good readers devoured love stories and one set amidst a backdrop of war and

04:23

strife are even better well next on the docket of Hemingway's

04:26

major works is for Whom the Bell Tolls it's another epic wartime story in this

04:31

one an American fighting in the Spanish Civil War is tasked with blowing up a [Bridge explodes and collapses]

04:35

bridge as a surprise attack on the opposing side the fascists over the next

04:39

couple of days the American meets up with different bands of Spanish

04:42

militants falls in love and succeeds in blowing up the bridge and killing a few [Explosion and bridge collapses again]

04:46

people in the mean time well this book stemmed from the time Hemingway spent as a

04:50

journalist covering the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s it was so well received

04:55

at the time it was published it was even nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in 1941 [Book nomination for Pulitzer prize sticker appears on book cover]

05:00

but didn't win because one of the head committee members has sided with the

05:04

fascist well the novel has stood the

05:07

test of time though since it's got a really humanistic element to it look at

05:11

the ugliness yet one has a feeling within one that blinds a man while he

05:15

loves you you with that feeling blind him and blind yourself then one day for

05:20

no reason he sees you as ugly as you really are and he is not blind anymore

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and then you see yourself as ugly as he sees you and you lose your man and your

05:28

feeling after a while when you are as ugly as I am as ugly as women can be

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then as I say after a while the feeling the idiotic feeling that you're [Passage in novel]

05:37

beautiful grows slowly in one again it grows like a cabbage and then when the

05:41

feeling has grown another man sees you and thinks you are beautiful and it is

05:45

all to do over.... Hemingway's theory is that people need other people in order

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to have a meaningful existence so instead of just being

05:52

about blowin stuff up and murdering people for whom the bell tolls is

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actually a tale of compassion and the bonds we can make with others in life

06:00

it's about what life can be living was a hawk in the sky living was an earthen [Another passage from novel appears]

06:05

jar of water in the dust of threshing with the grain flailed out and the chaff

06:10

blowing living was a horse between your legs and a carving under one leg and a

06:14

hill in a valley in a stream with trees along it and the far side of the valley

06:18

and the hills beyond yeah... Hemingway went there well the old man in

06:22

the sea is the last of Hemingway's biggies on the list this is the story of

06:25

an old man and the sea too obvious okay so an old fisherman hasn't caught a fish [Old man fishing in the sea]

06:31

for 84 days he'd likely starve to death if it weren't for a young boy who gives

06:35

him food he takes off and finds the biggest fish ever

06:39

then wrestles to catch it for three straight days he finally bagged the fish

06:44

and starts back to the shore but gets attacked by sharks by the time he

06:47

reaches land while the great fish is just bones you know the reason this book

06:51

is awesome is because it reminds us how cruel the world can be especially when

06:55

you get older yep older people aren't exactly valued in American culture there [Old man driving a car slowly]

07:00

are a lot of really harsh stereotypes about the elderly but when it comes down

07:03

to it people are people no matter what the age we all have basic needs food

07:08

water companionship a sense of belonging all right well let's look out the book....[book opens]

07:22

right from the word go we've got some

07:24

characters a serious situation a setting in a problem all in just one paragraph

07:28

we're hooked and ready to dive into the depth well in addition to all of his

07:32

incredible fictional tale Hemingway came up with this cool notion called [Iceberg theory folder on a fishing line in the sea]

07:37

the iceberg theory in his own words he described the theory like so if it is

07:42

any use to know it I always try to write on the principle of the iceberg there is

07:46

7/8 of it underwater for every part that shows anything you know you can

07:50

eliminate and it only strengthens your iceberg it is a part that doesn't show

07:55

If a writer omits something because he does not know

07:57

it then there was a hole in the story and then he says if a writer of prose

08:01

knows enough about what he is writing about he may omit things that he knows

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and the reader if the writer is writing truly enough we'll have a feeling of

08:08

those things as strongly as though the writer had stated them the dignity of

08:12

the movement of an iceberg is due to only one-eighth of it being above water

08:15

a good writer does not need a reveal every detail of a character or action

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alright let's break this down what do we know about icebergs well they're wicked [Polar bears appear]

08:23

cold they serve as homes for polar bears at least before global warming and

08:27

according to Hemingway we can only see about one-eighth of them above the ocean

08:30

surface which means 7/8 of the icebergs are hidden below the ocean surface and

08:35

we can't see them it's the essence of Hemingway's theory he posited that the

08:39

best writing only shows the reader about 1/8 of the whole story the other 7/8 of

08:44

the story is not explicitly stated but can be implied by the reader because of

08:48

that 1/8 thing well this theory also goes by the name of the theory of [Theory of omission on a fishing line]

08:52

omission any guesses as to why well that's because Hemingway advocated for

08:57

writers to omit crucial details and allow readers to you know figure things [Man reading book]

09:01

out for themselves well there's a pretty bold move on the part of an author

09:05

putting a lot of trust in an intelligent reader and their ability to understand

09:09

what the author trying to convey but that was Hemingway and the iceberg

09:13

method shows up in most if not all of his major works for instance Hemingway's

09:18

short story Hills like white elephants seems to be about discussing abortion [Novel appears and hill transforms into white elephant]

09:22

with a woman but the actual term abortion is never mentioned the reader

09:26

is only given snippets of conversation between the two characters, is left to

09:30

make his own decisions about what's actually going on in the story

09:33

well the iceberg theory is a big deal because it changed the style of

09:36

contemporary writing it rests on the concept that information not

09:40

specifically stated in a story actually strengthens the story as a whole well

09:46

yeah there were plenty of other reasons that ol' Ernie won so many Writing [List of Hemingway awards appears]

09:49

Awards in his life another of Hemingway's short stories the

09:52

killer's definitely uses this concept the iceberg theory

09:55

pause the video and read it for yourself now so we can discuss when you're back....

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now go ahead and pause we're not kidding here....

10:02

all right let's talk killers so this is the story of two rude strangers coming [Al and Max appear together in lunchroom]

10:06

into a lunchroom bullying everyone and taking off try the person here looking

10:10

to whack then one of the guys who was bullied goes to find the unlucky guy

10:14

who's about to get killed tells him what's up and then returns to the

10:17

lunchroom defeated and now that's the whole story [Nick sits down at a table]

10:21

talk about omission well there seems to be an entire story that isn't being told

10:25

here and that was Hemingway's goal what we do know is that the bullies al and

10:29

Max are hired killers and are after a Swedish guy named ole Anderson who's

10:33

also a heavyweight prizefighter we also know that Nick Adams one of the men at [Nick Adams sitting down with pizza for lunch]

10:38

the lunch counter doesn't get down with all this violence and when he tries to

10:41

warn Anderson that men are looking to kill him

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Anderson mostly says he doesn't care which makes Nick frustrated he says he's

10:48

going to leave town well these are all key facts in the story but what's left [Key enters into keyhole]

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out of the story is even more important like who hired Al and Max to kill Ole

10:56

Anderson and why and why doesn't he care we have to guess that Ole did something

11:01

pretty awful even though the lady at the boarding

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house insists he's super sweet which just complicates things even more and [Woman shrugging shoulders]

11:08

why is Nick the one who's concerned about these guys just randomly showing

11:12

up saying how they're gonna kill somebody everyone else seems to accept

11:15

it and would prefer to mind their own business but for Nick he's had it he's

11:19

packing his bags and heading for the Caribbean at least we're going to assume [Nick with suitcase at an airport]

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that's where he's going since it's not actually stated in the story we're free

11:26

to imagine that Nick is off to wherever you want to go except Mars...

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....One of the most fascinating things about this story is

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Hemingway's ability to combine elements of the mundane with a serious danger [Shark circles old man]

11:38

lurking just below the surface of the action ever seen a Quentin Tarantino

11:41

movie how about anything with mobsters in it yeah these films are usually super

11:45

violent but people watch them not just because they're going to be people [Girl watching a movie]

11:49

getting killed in gory horrible ways though this also happens but because the

11:53

directors and screenwriters have skilfully combined violence with

11:57

everyday conversation while Hemingway did it in the killer's and it was

12:00

clearly a recipe for success additionally this is a pretty short [The Killers novel appears in the oven]

12:03

story but there's a lot going on take Nick Adams the protagonist or main

12:08

character of the story Nick's doing okay at the beginning of the story just

12:11

enjoying a typical meal around people he knows and

12:14

sees almost every day of his life then Al and max come in and rock everyone's world [Nick eating lunch and Al and Max appear together]

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well after confronting Anderson, Nick returns to the lunchroom dejected what

12:23

makes matters worse is that the other characters don't even share in his

12:26

little defeat there it's as if Nick's innocence has been

12:29

tested or maybe even lost he's so upset that he's going to run away and leave [Nick walking in an airport]

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that town behind him all this loss of innocence is one of the themes in the

12:37

killers all right another theme is that of appearances nothing is quite what it

12:42

seems in this little story The Killers come on to the scene as well dressed but

12:46

offensive out-of-towners their lunch counter banter brands them as more silly

12:51

than serious which lies in the face of what we normally think of in terms of [Wanted poster of Al and Max on a lamp post]

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the personalities of murderers for hire well then we have Ole Anderson the

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prizefighter by all accounts he should be tough and ready to throw down but

13:03

when Nick goes to see him he's literally lying down admitting defeat [Anderson lying down]

13:07

He appears mighty but is shown in the story is weak well all of these

13:12

instances of irony contribute to the overall theme of appearance and link

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back to Nick's loss of innocence since what he believes to be true about people

13:20

based on appearances ends up being entirely false and we can talk for one

13:24

second about the o'clock as a symbol here in the story yeah well first of all [Iceberg discussing themes]

13:28

the fact the clock is fast and no one bothered to change it tells us the

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lunchroom workers Sam and Al are pretty much content with accepting the status [Sam and Al stood at a desk as clock ticks forward]

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quo you know the way things are it's used in this way as both a divisive

13:41

characterization and to help set the mood of the whole piece the clock as

13:45

fast as it is its ever present in the story creating dramatic tension

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throughout well Nick Addams is most affected by the ticking clock and we can

13:53

safely assume that if he had things his [Nick punches a clock] way that clock would be set to the right

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time down to the second Nick is juxtaposed against the older men who are

14:01

fairly set in their ways about the state of things and don't get all worked up

14:05

when Anderson isn't going to run away or fight back against his killers well the

14:09

killer's is a brief tale but there's a lot there to explore some literary

14:13

criticism experts have written entire dissertations on what the story actually [Dissertations on the Killers novel shown in library]

14:17

means and that once again is the beauty of the iceberg theory when Hemingway

14:21

omitted details from this story he opened the door for readers to come on in and

14:25

interpret it any way they please while some speculations about the story [People walking into a house]

14:29

are more on target than others well who's to say if they're right or wrong

14:33

Hemingway he's unavailable for comment today you've gotten to know me

14:37

and my innermost secrets while there's 1/8 of me in front of you right now the

14:42

bulk is hidden from view you can only guess what's going on below the seas top

14:46

layer Hemingway understood that icebergs are mighty strong stand-ins for writing [The Killers novel and iceberg lands on the page]

14:50

techniques and I'm writing novel myself it's called the old bird in the tree and

14:56

it's a work in progress...