hemingWay of the Day: on being drunk


I am hoping to pick up some Hemingway next week while I’m on vacation. It’s been a while since I’ve read any, and I miss him. To inspire myself (and maybe you?) I have chosen a rather classic few lines from my favorite of his books, For Whom the Bell Tolls.

“No,” Pablo said, dipping up another cup. “I am drunk, seest thou? When I am not drunk I do not talk. You have never heard me talk much. But an intelligent man is sometimes forced to be drunk to spend his time with fools.”

“Go and obscenity in the milk of thy cowardice,” Pilar said to him.

This is classic Papa because 1. it involves drunkenness; 2. it includes that oh-so-quotable line, “an intelligent man is sometimes forced to be drunk to spend his time with fools” (which I picture as one of those I’m-with-stupid t-shirts, but the literary version); and 3. Pilar’s line is on the one hand crass and on the other hand, linguistically interesting. Hemingway has used the word “obscenity” in place of a presumed (ahem) obscenity, like bleeping it out; and “thy” translates the Spanish “tu.” For Whom the Bell Tolls also features some interesting Spanish-language word order, to emphasize the feeling that these Spaniards’ dialogue has been translated for our benefit. I like the flavor that that adds to the book.

That’s our short taste of Hemingway today. Hopefully I’ll have more to tell you about soon!

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