Ernest Hemingway famously told George Plimpton, in a 1958 interview with the Paris Review, that he had re-written the ending to A Farewell to Arms “39 times before I was satisfied.” For Hemingway, it was all about “getting the words right.” Now readers will have the chance to read all the alternate endings in a new edition of A Farewell to Arms, which will be released by Scribner this week. In addition to the alternate endings, of which there are closer to 47 than 39, this edition will also include early drafts of other passages from the novel and will bear the artwork from the original cover.
The endings range in length, from a brief sentence to several paragraphs. One of the endings, No. 34 dubbed “the Fitzgerald ending”, was suggested by Hemingway’s good friend and fellow author F. Scott Fitzgerald. It held that the world “breaks everyone” and whomever “it does not break it kills.” Hemingway continued, “It kills the very good and very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.”
The publication of this edition is a result of an agreement between Scribner and Hemingway’s estate and is partially an attempt to redirect attention back to Hemingway’s writings from the focus in recent years to his larger-than-life persona. Seán Hemingway, a grandson of Hemingway and a curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, said, ” I think people who are interested in writing and trying to write themselves will find it intersting to look at a great work and have some insight to how it was done.”
To Use and Use Not [NY Times]