Remember the tedium of English Comp 101? Outline, rough draft, working draft, final draft, and final copy—all for a lousy B-. Now, imagine 47 rewrites. Papa admitted to revising the ending of A Farewell to Arms 39 times. His grandson, Sean Hemingway uncovered nine more attempts while perusing the Ernest Hemingway Collection at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston.
This latest edition of Hemingway’s semiautobiographical tale of an ambulance driver during the Italian campaign in World War I includes all of those alternate endings, original artwork, different ideas for its title as well as copies of some of Hemingway’s handwritten notes and crossed out passages. Combined, these extras provide a peek behind the wizard’s curtain of a master writer and the toil required to pen a classic (Kerouac and a steady supply of speed, notwithstanding). Give it a reread and perhaps you too can release a bestseller by 30 that shapes the literary style of the upcoming century.
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