New Digs

http://wensandknobs.tumblr.com/

Cheers,

TJB

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Re-Editing the Past: A Moveable Feast

"The Restored Edition," 2009

Hemingway is known for his many revisions, almost always editing events from the way they appeared in his moleskines. Well this week, I finally got around to reading to newest version of A Moveable Feast, (to be honest, I read the new sections and skimmed the rest). This edition is edited by his grandson Sean, who claims it is the most accurate edition.

After Hemingway’s death in 1961, his fourth wife, Mary, was left with the unfinished pieces that would eventually compose A Moveable Feast, which document his life as a struggling writer and sketch out the relationship with his first wife, Hadley. This included a collection of autobiographical notes and three novels which Mary would single-handedly piece together and publish in 1964.

Ernest and Hadley, Chamby, Switzerland, Winter 1922

Patrick Hemingway, son to Ernie’s second wife, Pauline, never liked the way his mother was depicted in the novel: The work portrays Pauline Pfeiffer as the friend who betrayed Hadley’s trust by seducing Hemingway. (Hemingway, of course, betrayed Hadley too, but whatever — in Bukowski’s words, “Hey man, I’m the hero of my shit,” so Hemingway gets to be the hero of his shit…). So anyway, Patrick suggested that his nephew, Sean, who had already edited a few of Hemingway’s works, compose more accurate compilation of the chapters left at the time of Heminway’s death. The edition that Mary edited is basically a canonical work of American literature at this point — the fact begs the question: does sheer accuracy really matter, especially for an author who fiercely re-edited the “truth”?

Granted, Mary has been publicly criticized for truncating passages in which Hemingway expressed remorse to Hadley, (and understandably so). Patrick and Sean objected to these exclusions because it also excluded the good times Hemingway had with Pauline.

First Edition, 1964

We have no way of knowing, of course, whether Hemingway would have ultimately kept the same order of chapters as appeared in his outline, or whether he would have approved of Mary’s particular interpretation, nor if  he would have approved the edition Sean has rehashed. Nonetheless, I would definitely suggest that fans of A Moveable Feast, and those that wish to expand their knowledge of the veritable soap opera that is Hemingway’s prose/psyche, check out this and interpret it as they will. If anything, it adds to the mystique.

After that, go re-read Hills Like White Elephants.

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Scrimshaw – Antique Whale’s Tooth Art

Of all Americana ephemera, the nautical realm is probably the one i find most fascinating – and whale tooth engravings, known as scrimshaw, are a perfect example of why. Intricately crafted and delicate, yet impossible to separate from the manly act of butchering the largest animals on the planet, scrimshaw retains and encapsulates everything that makes a glorified life at sea an inviting one.

The employment of whale teeth originally emerged in the form of tools that sailors would forge from the excess bones of the whales they harvested, and emerged as an art form secondarily when sailors would carve designs in their spare time in the early 1800s. Unfortunately, this act created a market for whale teeth, and in consequence, the harvesting of whales specifically for their teeth, (just like elephants and the market for their tusks of ivory). Sperm whales were hunted until their species nearly collapsed, and today, scrimshaw is a form of contraband. Nonetheless, antique scrimshaw is an amazing slice of American whaling heritage.

Here are some of my favorites:

More info and pictures can be found here.

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The Fabled Aran Sweater

Awash with ideas for Halloween costumes, I finally settled for Hemingway. It’s easy (spray-on white beard + pillow under sweater + fishing pole), and fun (goes well with copious amounts of liquor).

Turns out this is actually a Norwegian number donned by Papa, but whatever.

Turns out this is actually a Norwegian number donned by Papa, but whatever.

So, when planning out the attire, I naturally decided on a thick wool knit sweater to compliment the intense chill that will by 10/31 have descended upon Chicago. After a few trips to thrift shops I found the perfect specimen for a 3 dollars US currency: mint vintage Aran sheep’s wool sweater.

I’d always seen the sweaters at goodwill but never really gave them a chance, (my mind must have been clouded by dreams of finally finding an L.L.Bean Norwegian). So it wasn’t until after purchasing this that I even thought to research the history of the Aran sweater – a history that turns out to be richly storied.

100_Aran_Knitting_Patterns_4

So here goes:

The sweaters owe their title to the Aran Islands, off the coast of Ireland. The sweaters are distinguished by their use of complex and symbolically textured patterns stitched vertically down the front, (usually 4-6 patterns). Because the wool was generally unscoured, the garment retained natural oils from the sheep’s skin, making them water resistant but also very warm. Thus, they were the perfect attire for Irish fishermen in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. (They also provided knitting for the fishermen’s wives).

Aran Islands Fishermen. Unknown Date.

Aran Islands Fishermen. Date Unknown.

Over time, the stitching began to take on a symbolic meanings. For instance, the honeycomb is a symbol of the hard-working bee; the cable, an integral part of the fisherman’s daily life, is said to be a wish for safety and good luck at sea; the diamond is a wish of success, wealth and treasure; and the basket stitch represents the fisherman’s basket, a hope for a plentiful catch.

Additionally, combinations of patterns grew specific to families of prominent Irish fishermen in the area. Legend has it that the reason behind this tradition is that if a fisherman drowned at sea, his body could later be identified on the beach via the stitching of his sweater, despite facial decomposition. While this is generally refuted as a misconception parlayed by J.M. Synge’s 1904 play Riders to the Sea, in which the body of a dead fisherman is identified by the hand-knitted stitches on one of his garments, I still think it’s a fantastic story to accompany a fantastic sweater.

I wish that more garments had stories and legends surrounding them — because the history and philosophy behind the clothing is what makes fashion truly interesting to me.

Mich in an Aran, photo via Black Watch

Mick in an Aran, photo via Black Watch

Steve McQueen killin' it, photo via The Selvedge Yard

Steve McQueen killin' it, photo via The Selvedge Yard

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The End (of the L.L.Bean Norwegian Sweater Hiatus) Is Nigh

norway

A/W ’10 is here folks. And that means that after nearly 18 years, the L.L.Bean Norwegian Sweater’s exile has come to an end. Prepsters rejoice!

While not yet added to the official L.L.Bean site, orders for the Norwegian sweater are currently being accepted via telephone.

Read my original post on the iconic sweater’s reintroduction here.

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Autumn Toast

My most cherished season is upon us. Cheers.

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The perfect compliment to hard cider, wool socks, and a wood fire:

stew

Pumpkin-Cider Stew

  • 3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. fennel seeds, crushed
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt or 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
  • 2 lb. beef chuck roast, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 medium onions, halved, sliced, and broken into thin slivers
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 14-oz. can beef broth
  • 1-1/2 cups apple cider
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 6 or 7 miniature white and/or orange pumpkins, or half a 5-lb. pie pumpkin, or 2 lb. potatoes
  • 2 medium parsnips or carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces, or 8 oz. baby carrots with tops, scrubbed and trimmed
  • 2 Jonathan or Gala apples, cored and cut into wedges
  • Fennel Seeds (optional)

Directions

In a self-sealing plastic bag combine flour, the 2 teaspoons crushed fennel seeds, salt, and pepper. Add beef chunks. Close bag; shake to coat. In a Dutch oven brown half the beef and half the onion at a time in 1 tablespoon of hot oil. Return all meat and onion to Dutch oven. Add broth, cider, and vinegar. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 1-1/4 hours.

Meanwhile, if using miniature pumpkins, cut a 1/2-inch slice from the bottom of each; discard slice. Scoop out seeds and fibrous strings. If using pie pumpkin, peel, seed, remove strings, and cut into large chunks. If using potatoes, peel and cut into wedges.

Add pumpkin pieces or potatoes,and parsnips or carrots to beef mixture. Return to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 25 minutes more. Add apples; cover and simmer 5 to 10 minutes more or until vegetables and fruit are tender. Ladle into bowls or pumpkin bowls* to serve. Sprinkle with additional fennel seeds. Makes 8 servings

To Make Pumpkin Bowl: For each pumpkin bowl, cut a 1-inch slice from the stem end of a 1-1/2 to 2-lb. pumpkin; set aside stem. Scoop out seeds and fibrous strings. Ladle soup in bowl; replace stem. Or, if desired, place hollowed pumpkin with top in a shallow baking pan. Bake in a 350 degrees F. oven for 1 to 1-1/4 hours or until tender. Season inside of pumpkin with salt. Serve as above.

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