For Whom The Bell Tolls

I lost my Hemingway virginity. This was part of the "project" where I ask friends what their favorite book is, and then I read it. (I've only done that twice, but it has worked out well both times.) I was enjoying the book just fine, but I fell for it around p. 84 of my Scribner paperback copy when Pilar tells the others what Valencia is like. There are two pages talking about what she saw and did in Valencia, and I could read those pages over and over.

"The melon of Valencia is for eating. When I think of those melons long as one's arm, green like the sea and crisp and juicy to cut and sweeter than the early morning in summer. Aye, when I think of those smallest eels, tiny, delicate and in mounds on the plate. Also the beer in pitchers all through the afternoon, the beer sweating in its coldness in pitchers the size of water jugs."
"And what did thee when not eating nor drinking?"
"We made love in the room with the strip wood blinds hanging over the balcony and a breeze through the opening of the top of the door which turned on hinges. We made love there, the room dark in the day time from the hanging blinds, and from the streets there was the scent of the flower market and the smell of burned powder from the firecrackers of the traca that ran through the streets exploding each noon during the Feria. It was a line of fireworks that ran through all the city, the firecrackers linked together and the explosions running along on poles and wires of the tramways, exploding with great noise and a jumping from pole to pole with a sharpness and a cracking of explosion you could not believe."

There are several stories within the story, like the Valencia tale, and all of them are great.

I liked the line about snowstorms: "In a snowstorm it always seemed, for a time, as though there were no enemies." I liked the line about "lasts": "But last nights are never any good. Last nothings are any good. Yes, last words were good sometimes. 'Viva my husband who was Mayor of this town' was good."

I told my boyfriend I would name a cat or dog "Robert Jordan" after reading this.


Hannah said...

This was always my favorite passage, I think because it's like a grownup version of The Runaway Bunny.

"But there are other things I can do for thee," Maria told him, walking close beside him, now, very serious and womanly.

"Besides shoot me?"

"Yes. I can roll cigarettes for thee when thou hast no more of those with tubes. Pilar has taught me to roll them very well, tight and neat and not spilling."

"Excellent," said Robert Jordan. "Do you lick them yourself?"

"Yes," the girl said, "and when thou art wounded I will care for thee and dress thy wound and wash thee and feed thee-"

"Maybe I won't be wounded," Robert Jordan said.

"Then when you are sick I will care for thee and make thee soups and clean thee and do all for thee. And I will read to thee."

"Maybe I won't get sick."

"Then I will bring thee coffee in the morning when thou wakest-"

"Maybe I don't like coffee," Robert Jordan told her.

"Nay, but you do," the girl said happily. "This morning you took two cups."

"Suppose I get tired of coffee and there's no need to shoot me and I'm neither wounded nor sick and I give up smoking and have only one pair of socks and hang up my robe myself. What then, rabbit?" he patted her on the back. "What then?"

"Then," said Maria, "I will borrow the scissors of Pilar and cut thy hair."

"I don't like to have my hair cut."

"Neither do I," said Maria. "And I like thy hair as it is. So. If there is nothing to do for thee, I will sit by thee and watch thee and in the nights we will make love."

"Good," Robert Jordan said. "The last project is very sensible."

"To me it seems the same," Maria smiled.

Brian said...

I love it.