In 1958, famed literary author Ernest Hemingway revealed that the final words of his novel, A Farewell to Arms
were rewritten 39 times before the author landed on the one that ultimately made it to print.
Now, readers will finally be able to read all the alternate endings, published for the first time in their entirety thanks to a new edition of the novel which will be published next week.
The new edition has come after a joint agreement was reached between Hemingway’s estate and Scribner. It is hoped that the republication will also help to counter some of the recent media representations that have portrayed Hemingway as an eccentric and a drunkard (such as Corey Stoll’s portrayal of the author in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris
), and focus the attention back on the impressive body of work that Hemingway produced.
"I think people who are interested in writing and trying to write themselves will find it interesting to look at a great work and have some insight to how it was done," Hemingway’s grandson Seán Hemingway said
"But he is a writer who has captured the imagination of the American public, and these editions are interesting because they really focus on his work. Ultimately that’s his lasting contribution."
All 39 endings of A Farewell to Arms
will be featured in an appendix at the end of the new edition. Since their discovery, the endings have been preserved in the Ernest Hemingway Collection at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston.
As noted by Seán Hemingway, the new edition will give readers insight into how the mind of the author worked. Each rewrite differs slightly from the other, some offering a more optimistic ending and others having the opposite effect. Some consist of a simple sentence while others take up several paragraphs.
The first ending that appears in the appendix is titled The Nada Ending
and rather bluntly reads
: "That is all there is to the story. Catherine died and you will die and I will die and that is all I can promise you."
Another, listed as ending number 7, states: "There is no end except death and birth is only the beginning."
There’s even an ending which was suggested to him by his friend, F. Scott Fitzgerald, a renowned American author who wrote The Great Gatsby.
This ending led Hemingway to write that the world "breaks everyone" and that those "it does not break it kills."
"It kills the very good and very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry," the Fitzgerald ending concludes
Publisher of Scribner Susan Moldow believes that it is important to continue to present Hemingway’s body of work afresh.
"This is one of the most important authors in American history. And fortunately or unfortunately you need to keep refreshing or people lose interest," she said
"Ultimately, I think we have to be glad that he went with the ending that he went with."