Some of the Longest Sentences You're Ever Likely to See


in Hemingway. . .

from The Sun Also Rises
Ernest Hemingway

At the end of the street I saw the cathedral and walked up toward it. The first time I ever saw it I thought the facade was ugly but I liked it now. I went inside. It was dim and dark and the pillars went high up, and there were people praying, and it smelt of incense, and there were some wonderful big windows. I knelt and started to pray and prayed for everybody I thought of, Brett and Mike and Bill and Robert Cohn and myself, and all the bull-fighters, separately for the ones I liked and lumping all the rest. then I prayed for myself again, and while I was praying for myself I found I was getting sleepy, so I prayed that the bullfights would be good, and that it would be a fine fiesta, and that we would get some fishing. I wondered if there was anything else I might pray for, and I thought I would like to have some money, so I prayed that I would make a lot of money, and then I started to think how I would make it, and thinking of making money reminded me of the count, and I started wondering about where he was and regretting I hadn't seen him since that night in Monmartre, and about something funny Brett told me about him, and as all the time I was kneeling with my forehaed on the wood in front of me, and was thinking of myself as praying, I was a little ashamed, and regretted that I was such a rotten Catholic, but realized there was nothing I could do about it, at least for a while, and maybe never, but that anyway it was a grand religion, and I only wished I felt religious and maybe I would next time; and then I was out in the hot sun on the steps of the cathedral, and the forefingers and thumb of my right hand were still damp, and I felt them dry in the sun. The sunlight was hot and hard, and I crossed over beside some buildings and walked back along side-streets to the hotel.

(Chapter 10--Jake Barnes speaking)

What a lovely passage. Not poetic--angular and repetitive and driving, but lovely.

I have never much cared for Hemingway--and perhaps that has been a bit of immaturity on my part. I have difficulty with artists with whom I have substantive disagreements regrading morality or general life-issues. I've never much cared for the "man's man" attitude in much of Hemingway. But perhaps that is because of my misreading, because I am quite enjoying The Sun Also Rises. Perhaps I've decided not to continually deprive myself of potentially great work because of arbitrary fiats on my own part. We all do this, most unconsciously, but I'm trying to uncover the roots of my dislike and impatience and do away with them systematically. Why? I honestly don't have any idea whatsoever--it just seems like I have too long been arrogant about my likes and dislikes with no legitimate reason.

My prejudices against certain authors have really blocked access to substantive work that is potentially a source of great insight into the human condition. And the better we know that, the better we are equipped to help ourselves and others to overcome it and to assume the more Divine Nature that the Father wants to grant us even as we live today.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on September 21, 2009 12:36 PM.

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