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Festival of African Lit. 2016 > Hemingway stories about Africa

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message 1: by Betty (new)

Betty Asma (everydayabook) | 3612 comments Ernest Hemingway Where to read the two stories 'The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber' and 'The Snows of Kilimanjaro': these might be found digitally or on youtube or in a physical book such as The Complete Short Stories. There may be more African stories by him. So if you find another one, we can read that one too if you like.

By way of a lead in for Macomber and Kilimanjaro may we begin with musical entrances from The Hemingway Suites by Bill Lorraine, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lBkwR... and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GM60m... .


message 2: by Betty (new)

Betty Asma (everydayabook) | 3612 comments Macomber

The main characters on the expedition are the red-complexioned guide Robert Wilson, the challenged customer Francis Macomber, who during the course of the story overcomes his empathy for animals (seen as cowardice in his fear of a charging lion and in his sensibility for a living animal) through anger at his wife Margot's infidelity with and acclaim for the apparently more courageous Wilson. Thus motivated by anger, Macomber loses his former hesitancy, fearlessly hunting down three buffalo and thus experiencing and conveying elation and enthusiasm for a continuation of the hunt.

As for Margot, my impression of her and Wilson turns to antagonism between them. Wilson begins to appreciate Macomber's enthusiasm for hunting, and to accept the likelihood of no further assignations with Macomber's wife Margot. It's unclear whether Margot senses Wilson's changed attitude towards her, however, his unethical, unlawful pursuit by automobile of the fleeing animals is mentioned by her to him, as if she might be a potential witness against him. Her outspokenness against Wilson's wrongdoing is shortlived when her apparently well-intentioned action for Macomber's safety ends tragically. Now it's Wilson's turn to hold something against her, that her action was not accidental at all.


message 3: by Missy J (new)

Missy J (missyj333) | 60 comments Wow, the African festival is almost coming to an end... Thanks Asma for guiding us through African literature.

Yesterday I read "The Snows in Kilimanjaro" and listened to the audiobook as well (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Yy8v...). It's a very peculiar story.

It's about a dying man who seems to be on a hunting trip in Kenya with his wife. The car is broken and they are waiting for a plane to pick them up, because the protagonist is suffering from gangrene and needs to be hospitalized.

Africa appears like a mystical setting for the dying man. In the beginning of the story, there's a mention of a dead leopard near the peak of Kilimanjaro (interesting that this mountain is referred to as the "House of God", kind of reminded me of how Bali refers to itself as the "Island of Gods"). At the end of the story, the wife hears hyenas cry. But for the most part, the protagonist seems to reminisce on his time in France and Turkey and his wartime experiences in Austria. He also thinks about the things that he wasn't able to write down before he died. Ultimately, I think there are a lot of autobiographical elements in this short story - travelling, writing, war experience, multiple marriages, heavy drinking...

When I searched around for "The Snows in Kilimanjaro", it is often hailed as one of Hemingway's greatest short story. But I'm not really sure why it is perceived as great. Maybe because it deals with the topic death and very personal?

Hopefully I can read "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber" tonight. Will post my thoughts later on.


message 4: by Betty (new)

Betty Asma (everydayabook) | 3612 comments Tonight I'll do 'The Snows of Kilimanjaro' with Missy J's audio recommendation. Looks like both Macomber and Snows are being written about. Yay!

For audio and text on Macomber, I found http://esl-bits.net/ESL.English.Liste... worthwhile.

Missy J recognized biographical features of Hemingway in 'The Snows of Kilimanjaro' that may explain the story's continuing prominence. The calm, gangrenous man is frequently introspective, examining his feelings for his companion, wishing he'd written more stories, remembering incidents during travel, and informing the reader about the fleeting sensations of death's breath approaching him. The ending was spectacular: it changes his resignation, which was in contrast to his companion's reassurance of rescue, to a brighter end to his ordeal by the flight to a peak of Kilimanjaro.


message 5: by Betty (new)

Betty Asma (everydayabook) | 3612 comments The book Hemingway in Africa: The Last Safari by Christopher Ondaatje is documented in a lecture by its author. It's in the group Videos.


message 6: by Missy J (new)

Missy J (missyj333) | 60 comments Thanks for posting the two video links Asma. The lecture on Hemingway in Africa helped me to appreciate the short story (Snows in Kilimanjaro) better. I just find it eerie that Hemingway wrote this short story in 1933, but it sounds almost like a deathbed confession.

I finished reading "The Short, Happy Life of Sir Francis Macomber" and enjoyed that story better (enjoy is not really the right word, because the story involves hunting lions and buffaloes, but overall the story fits with my expectations of a short story - interesting characters, events culminating to a shocking ending).

There was so much tension between the three main characters. Unfortunately the relationship between Margot and Francis was based on ulterior motives, which is why she felt so ashamed of his cowardice running away from the wounded lion. I also wonder if Margot used the rifle because she was startled by Wilson's warming up to Francis' enthusiasm or out of genuine concern for Francis which ended tragically.


message 7: by Betty (new)

Betty Asma (everydayabook) | 3612 comments Missy J, the videos do contribute some insight into Hemingway's duo of African short stories. John Stacy takes the side that Margot's intention is not to harm Macomber. Christopher Ondaatje brings Kilimanjaro up close and comments upon Hemingway's book Green Hills of Africa and so forth.

The stories share similarities and differences. Both end because of a tragic accident. Harry's improperly treated wound from a thorn in Snows becomes gangrenous over a couple weeks, a chance for laid-up Harry to reminisce about his early life, remembrances fraught with adventure and with a succession of women; those memories almost portray a different character than the one in the cot. Macomber's short, happy life of perilous events covers two days of a safari before he succumbs to unfaithful Margot's misguided aim.

There are differences as well. The unnamed(?) female in Snows is an excellent markswoman, a woman of means, and a devoted companion; in the other story, Margot is self-serving and is gripped to the relationship by Macomber's wealth. The stories differ in the attitude towards wild animals. The single ram's capture in Snows is done out of sight, the objective is to cook soup broth for ailing Harry; in Macomber, the hunt of the lions and buffaloes is ruthless and wasteful. The suspense in Snows ends in the echo of a frozen leopard at the mountain peak, a spiritual symbolism for Harry's flight of consciousness. As I recall, Ondaatje sees the Kilimanjaro peak as Harry's creativity finally open before him, because there remain so many unwritten stories. In Macomber, the just slain buffalo echos in Macomber's recumbent body before the story turns to Margot and Wilson at variance about the dreadful event. Wilson recriminates Margot's method--it's unfortunate to do in Macomber this way rather than another way. He forecasts that Margot would be absolved.

Hemingway paints the pictures here. Stories to reflect on.


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