Monday, May 18, 2009

talking rot

"But you have a feeling of happiness about action to come?"

"Yes," said Wilson, "There's that. Doesn't do to talk too much about all this. Talk the whole thing away. No pleasure in anything if you mouth it up too much."

"You're both talking rot," said Margot.

Ernest Hemingway "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber"

(Best short story, ever, in my opinion.)


Matt Mullenix said...

Long live the Hemingway Code Hero!

Hey, so did Margot off him on purpose or what?

mdmnm said...

Hey Matt,

That's one of the big questions, isn't it? Part of what makes the story so great!

Matt Mullenix said...

Oh I think women generally hit where they aim. Espcially when aiming at us. :-)

One of the more fascinating aspects of the story to me is its critique of the commercial relationship between the two men. It is partly about contempt, and inciminating of both parties, which tells me Hemingway knew a lot about himself and men in general.

I am alawyas amazed to hear the opinion that Papa was insensitive or heavy-handed. The man was totally tuned in.

mdmnm said...

Sure, and that relationship shifted, didn't it?

Once Macomber asked Wilson if anyone would find out about his initial failure, then Wilson felt his professionalism insulted by the question and rationalized his behavior toward Macomber and Margot.

It seems to me a lot of readers get hung up on the visceral descriptions of the animals, shooting, and blood and skim over the rest.

The first few times I read the story I'd always figured Margot shot true as well. More recently, I've come to think of her as less cold-blooded.

Funny, though, I've never felt Macomber was much of a tragedy. He died happy.

Matt Mullenix said...

He did indeed.

I just re-read it and still thought Margot killed him on purpose, but there is some question whether Hemingway gave her enough skill or experience to do that.

If failing to establish that skill was intentional (I give Hem. benefit of doubt!), then it's possible she just wanted to regain the balance of power by putting a bullet in the bull and robbing Francis of 100% of his glory. That would be a reasonable expectation of herself, even with little skill.

I guess someone's probably already thought of that. :-)

Anway, I am moved all over again by how good EH was. Thanks for the link!

Henry Chappell said...

One of the best ever. No question about it. "Indian Camp," and "The Battler" have stuck with me over the years. I'm not sure why.

mdmnm said...


"Indian Camp" has always stuck with me, too.