The Importance of Reading Ernest discussion

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Night Before Battle > First Impressions

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message 1: by Brad (new)

Brad (judekyle) | 219 comments Mod
Y'all know the drill. Let's kick off the discussion with our first impressions.


message 2: by Preb (new)

Preb Knudsen | 17 comments ’Night Before Battle’ is an excellent choice for a group read. And something came to mind right away. In ‘The Craft of the Novel’ author Colin Wilson suggests that certain great writers have ‘ symbols of intensity’. Horror in the case of H. P. Lovecraft, the sea for Joseph Conrad and Catholicism for Graham Greene. Hemingway, wrote Wilson, had war and human courage. And that fits perfectly with ‘Night…’, doesn’t it?

The story starts very well. We’re in Madrid. Important things will happen the next day. Probably every day. I was reminded of ‘A Farewell to Arms’, the same sort of solid grounding. All through the story the setting is vivid.

Prospective death in ‘Night...’ is well expressed, I thought, and brilliantly exemplified in the sympathetic character of Al Wagner, the tank man. To me he’s the key character in the story, although the laid-back Henry (alias Hem?) is clearly the protagonist. Al progresses from ‘wet’, afraid to die the next morning, to a man who’s come to terms with his emotions and responsibilities. And, we hope, in shape to face death.

Tall, unwashed Al and the little, short, irritating man (with inside information), the intoxicated Baldy, the newspaper Englishman and Spanish Manolita (with the snake eyes) are easy to visualize. And they sound authentic. The flyers are sketchier, and I lost count how many there were.

The ending reminds me of the Francis Macomber story. FM was ‘angry’ when he faced the ferocious buffalo bull, and it helped him. Same with Al. His friend Henry thinks: ‘…I guess angry is about the best way that you can be when you attack’.


message 3: by Arthur (new)

Arthur | 21 comments Preb wrote: "’Night Before Battle’ is an excellent choice for a group read. And something came to mind right away. In ‘The Craft of the Novel’ author Colin Wilson suggests that certain great writers have ‘ symb..."

I agree with intensity. And I will also that it has an ending equal for the story. A little noticeable of his style writing but encouraging and tremendous of a short story where it does allude for any reader with war or man and misgivings.


message 4: by Brad (new)

Brad (judekyle) | 219 comments Mod
Preb wrote: "Hemingway, wrote Wilson, had war and human courage. And that fits perfectly with ‘Night…’, doesn’t it?" Absolutely, Preb! Great connection. I think that is at the core of Hemingway's work, and something that many people, particularly critics of his "fascination with war" overlook (and I think they do so intentionally).

My first impression, albeit late to the table, was of the camaraderie that war must create. There is something in the violence of war that brings people, not just men, closer together if they engaged in some way in the hostilities. Manolita's connection to the men reminds me of Lady Brett Ashley's. But where we see Brett after the damage is done, we see Manolita while the damage is being done.

I don't know about the rest of you, but even in short stories I love Hemingway's characters. There is so much depth in so few words. He really is an impressive short story writer. I think only Faulkner and Conrad come close to him for sheer brilliance in the form.




message 5: by Brad (new)

Brad (judekyle) | 219 comments Mod
Arthur wrote: "Preb wrote: "I agree with intensity. And I will also that it has an ending equal for the story. A little noticeable of his style writing but encouraging and tremendous of a short story where it does allude for any reader with war or man and misgivings...." So what do you think about Hemingways' preoccupation with war, Arthur. You and Preb have sent me on to a new topic. War is so important to Hemingway and his stories, isn't it?



message 6: by Gary (last edited Mar 06, 2010 11:26AM) (new)

Gary | 395 comments Mod
I think it's so important to him, because he was in war. couldn't serve as a soldier, but still saw the horror of war as an ambulance driver,and he also was a reporter for the war,and it was a big part of his life. so,he wrote about it?? i think war was a much bigger issue for men of that time, because everybody served, instead of volunteered , as of today. people were closer,and all types of people were "drafted",and it made people care about each other more. now, most people don't even talk about what's going on in the middle east, unless they have a relative or friend there as a soldier. otherwise, people are disconnected, apathetic, and out of the loop , as far as any war is concerned.


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