Across the River and into the Trees (1)
by E. Hemingway
Love is all we need
In the spirit of the message at Givenchy’s SS 2016 fashion show in New York "Love Is All We Need", this book has convinced me that love is indeed really all and the only thing that counts in life.
Haven’t read Hemingway since high school and picked this book up coincidently at an old book store at Piccadilly where I always stop by when I’m in London. And I will for sure now read more of him. Reading the comments on the book amused me. The majority of them are based on comparisons to his previous works. Therefore I consider myself lucky to have buried myself in this great love story unprejudiced.
A slight cynicism in the telling of a dying American colonel pours into the melancholy sadness of his feelings for a young girl. Many can see in this story mostly an older man, surviving the Second World War, who in the desire for immortality falls in love with a (too)young girl; today a very common subject. Not at all! Each reader should not ignore the deeper message of the relationship developed between the two.
“How could she love a sad son of a bitch like me?
He did not know, among other things, that the girl loved him because he had never been sad one waking morning of his life, attack or no attack. He had experienced anguish and sorrow. But he had never been sad in the morning. They make almost none like that. And the girl, although she was a young girl, knew one, when she saw one.“
The physical and psychological injuries to Richard, a "beat-up old bastard" as he calls himself, demand unconditional, selfless feelings, and who could be better to stand for him than someone without the weight of years, without prejudice, without a selfish view of the world. Someone who will finally be a counterweight to all the frustration, guilt and unjust devastation he carries as a war burden.
The winter bora and the smell of snow blown by the wind from the Alps to Venice, where the story takes place, make us feel the tragedy of lost opportunities and the upcoming end much more authentically. Despite this, humor is always present to make you smile:
“Look Daughter, there isn’t anything to say. They didn’t install shock absorbers in this vehicle we ride in now.“
“I’d better just give her my love. But how the hell do you send it? And how do you keep it fresh? They can’t pack it in dry ice…“
“If you ever fight, then you must win it. That’s all that counts. No horse named Morbid ever won a race.“
To be continued… part 2