Category Archives: Literature

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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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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T-Minus Two Days

EDIT: Live Blogging has been canceled due to technical limitations. Sincere Apologies. Expect measures to be taken to fix this in the future…

August 16th looms like the flickering, unattainable green light on the bay of West Egg.

“Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—to-morrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And one fine morning——

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

Season 3, Episode 1:

Created and written by Matthew Weiner; directed by Phil Abraham; Mr. Weiner and Scott Hornbacher, executive producers; Lisa Albert, supervising producer; Dahvi Waller, co-producer; Dwayne Shattuck and Blake McCormick, producers. Produced by Lionsgate.

WITH: Jon Hamm (Donald Draper), January Jones (Betty Draper), Vincent Kartheiser (Peter Campbell), Elisabeth Moss (Peggy Olson), Christina Hendricks (Joan Holloway), John Slattery (Roger Sterling), Jared Harris (Lane Pryce), Ryan Cartwright (John Hooker), Bryan Batt (Salvatore Romano), Michael Gladis (Paul Kinsey), Ryan Cutrona (Gene Driscoll), Aaron Staton (Ken Cosgrove), Rich Sommer (Harry Crane) and Robert Morse (Bertram Cooper).

Remember, LIVE BLOGGING of the premiere will happen right here, August 16th, starting 10 pm PST.

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The Mugshot: Cruel and Unusual Style

The mugshot (and especially the celebrity mugshot) has become such a canonized aspect of the American consciousness that, at least to me, it transcends both originality and cliche. What I mean by that is: Mugshots are instantly recognizable and in a sense, unoriginal – however, they remain stylized in such a way that the viewer’s instant recognition classicizes the mugshot aesthetic. (Really, the same goes for anything “classic,” and I use that term tightly, as it seems to have been applied pretty loosely to things in the past). Anyway, I feel like featuring my favorite mugshots is an easy road to take, but a necessary one nonetheless.

So, once one acknowledges these preconceptions, I think mugshots can be a fascinating window into an individual’s naked personality. They reveal people at their most vulnerable – and it’s interesting to interpret how composed/distraught/stylish/smug/embarrassed/empowered/coy a person truly is at a given moment, (that is, if you subscribe to the theory of mugshots as a vehicle of personality deconstruction). To that end, here is a sampling of my favorite mugshots (celebrity, stylish and unknown, hat-adorned, and full body – none of which are mutually exclusive) that I’ve culled from the internet over the past few weeks.

Celebrity:

emmagoldmanmugshotEmma Goldman

PD*29499642Jerry Rosenberg

BE047388Malcolm X

McQueenSteveSteve McQueen

Unknowns:

Picture 1

Picture 12

Picture 13

Picture 4

Picture 7

Picture 2

Hats:

Picture 8

Picture 14

Picture 5

Picture 9

Picture 6

Full Body:

Picture 2

Picture 1

Also, check out some of the new campaign photos for Levi’s, which feature some penetentary-themed shots (though not shot very well, in my opinion). Via DR&DR.

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Book Covers by ‘Jason’

The enigmatic Norwegian graphic novelist ‘Jason’ creates some amazing jacket art, my favorite of which is his design for the latest edition of The Dharma Bums, out as a Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition (below). I haven’t read any of his graphic novels, but I just ordered The Left Bank Gang, which centers on F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, and James Joyce in the bohemia of 1920’s Paris.

jason_DHARMA

Jason’s Bio.

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New Levi’s Ad Campaign

Sure, the new Levi’s “Go Forth” campaign is replete with the traditional Madison Avenue subliminal methods, but c’mon… A Walt Whitman poem + all that imagery? Gotta give ’em some cred.

But what makes this particularly notable is that the vocal is taken from a 36-second wax cylinder recording from 1890, of what is thought to actually be Walt Whitman reading four lines of “America.” (For more information on this recording, see Ed Folsom, “The Whitman Recording,” Walt Whitman Quarterly Review, 9 (Spring 1992), 214-16).

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Summer, Fitzgerald, and the Days of Dapper Inebriation

scottzelda1

Drinking, if done well and stylishly, can lead to literary inspiration – or at least not impede it too much. Take that great chronicler of wealth and high society F. Scott Fitzgerald, for instance; some of his best work was clearly done under the influence. Just look at the soaking-wet Tender Is the Night (1934). Of course the intemperate author, left entirely to his own devices, might have been less poetical in his consumption of alcohol and thereby rendered a less perfect work of art. But his great friends, patrons and mentors Gerald and Sara Murphy, upon whom Tender Is the Night is based, showed him how to do the thing properly.

GandS

The beautiful, rich, and clever Murphys, iconic figures of the Jazz Age in France, held court at their villa on the French Riviera in Antibes (Villa America, as it was dubbed) where they would hold legendary dinner parties. Gerald tried to limit his guests’ consumption of the hard stuff in order to prevent the gatherings from devolving into total inebriation, though Fitzgerald usually managed to down more than his fair share. This often led to breakages, shouting matches and even suicide attempts.

The Fitzgeralds of course, were legendary boozers. When they later lived in shabby gentility in Great Neck, Long Island, they would drive back and forth to Manhattan for death-denying binges in a second-hand Rolls-Royce. Their houseboy would frequently find them passed out on the lawn in the morning, the car more or less in the driveway.

cocktail

Murphy immortalized drink-making as a stylish ritual in his 1927 painting “Cocktail,” now in the Whitney in New York. Asked what he was mixing in his silver shaker, Gerald would always reply, “Oh, just the juice of a few flowers.” (The line was later borrowed by the Murphys’ friend, The Philadelphia Story author Phillip Barry, for his movie Holiday in which it was said by Cary Grant). What Gerald was actually concocting was something he called a Bailey; “invented by me,” Gerald wrote to Alexander Woollcott, “as were a great many other good things.” Indeed.

Gerald Murphy’s “Bailey”:

3/5ths gin
1/5th grapefruit juice
1/5th lime juice
Sprigs of mint

Personal instructions:

The mint should be put in the shaker first. It should be torn up by hand as it steeps better. The gin should be added then and allowed to stand a minute or two. Then add the grapefruit juice and then the lime juice. Stir vigorously with ice and do not allow to dilute too much, but serve very cold, with a sprig of mint in each glass.

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Expat’ed: Americans in Paris

As I will be studying in Paris next winter quarter, I’ve recently developed an obsession with the ideals of the expatriate movement – so, here are some photos of Americans in the City of Lights. In the coming weeks I will continue to satiate my obsession with tidbits regarding the somewhat strained yet decidely dynamic relationship between America and France.

henrymiller

Miller.

james_baldwin_paris

Baldwin.

burroughsbeathotel

Burroughs.

ncb

Barney.

Ezra Pound - Pound In Paris - LIFE_1243380801936

Pound.

hemingwayparis

Hemingway.

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