Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Incroci di Civiltà 2011 - Crossroads of Civilization 2011 - Writing: The Spooky Art

(Venice, Italy) The fourth edition of Crossroads of Civilization, Venice's literary festival, was, for me, like going home, surrounded by my own kind. Listening to fiction writers attempt to describe their creative process to an audience always makes me smile. 

Unlike journalism and other forms of non-fiction, creating literary works of the imagination is such a strange process, even to an author, that it is difficult to explain in practical terms. There is a strange communication between the subconscious mind and the fingertips that often doesn't reach an author's consciousness until after publication, or even years later. 

Nathan Englander, one of the speakers at the conference, (and the only American) said, "We are working as an innocent. We don't know what we are writing about." Nobel Prize winner V.S. Naipaul said, "Writing is a kind of magic. Since we are in [Venice] the land of glass-making, it's similar to blowing glass. You don't know how it's going to come out. It's true of writing, too."

The late Norman Mailer wrote a book about the process and called it "The Spooky Art." Here are my own thoughts from a recent Facebook conversation:

As a novelist, the thrill is to watch the characters become individuals. I can't force them to do anything they don't want to do. It's something magical. I think God is like that, and is bored by sameness. Otherwise, why do we exist? To me, the only other reason would be: to be a slave and do the boring work that a god doesn't want to do. 

V.S. Naipaul
I was at the very first Los Angeles Times Festival of Books back in 1996. Back then, no one knew if anyone would show up since Los Angeles was not exactly known for its focus on literature. Well, it was a huge success, beyond anyone's wildest dreams. Literary festivals connect writers and readers, which are solitary pursuits, plugging the electrical cord right into the socket. Zap! 

Connecting minds through writing and reading is an intimate liaison; the mind processes information it receives by reading in an entirely different way than watching a film or listening to music. Until Incroci di Civiltà, which connected writers from different parts of the world, I don't think I quite comprehended how powerful that connection can be, and why strong voices continue to be suppressed by totalitarian governments. The Russian poet, Joseph Brodsky, and the American poet, Ezra Pound, both of whom were institutionalized by their respective countries, are buried here, adding their voices to a chorus of writers throughout the centuries who gathered in Venice and suffered to be heard -- a fertile foundation for a fledging international literature festival named Incroci di Civiltà - Crossroads of Civilization.

There was a wonderful spirit of collaboration between the different venues that participated in Incroci di Civiltà. It was the first time I had attended the literary conference, but I am very familiar with the venues, which are some of the most distinguished settings that Venice has to offer. The Malibran, the Santa Margherita Auditorium, the Punta della Dogana, the Palazzo Ducale, the Querini Stampalia, the Giorgione Theater, the Casinò, the Ateneo Veneto and Ca' Foscari University all opened their doors and let in a breath of civilization. 

In addition, almost every major organization in town was a partner or a collaborator, with roots that reach to France, England, Italy, Venice, Germany, Spain, the US, Greece, Iceland, China, Poland, Cypress -- even Europe itself was represented by the European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights and Democratisation. In case I missed someone, click to read my Crossroads of Civilization - International Literature Festival in Venice post to read the line-up, and who collaborated with whom. 

A.S. Byatt
Photo: Eamonn McCabe
What was unique about Crossroads of Civilization was listening to the smorgasbord of writers from various parts of the globe -- only a handful of the literature published in the United States is of foreign origin. I was struck by something that both Dame Antonia Susan Duffy (A.S. Byatt) and Sir Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul (V.S. Naipaul) remarked when asked about Venice. They both seemed to think of Venice as being "European," which surprised me, because it doesn't feel overly European to me. Since I still have an enormous amount of American naivety, I will confess it was the first time I realized that they, who are based in England, felt separate from the rest of Europe, and that they saw Venice as part of the Continent -- when, in reality, it is a separate island(s). 

As for average Americans, we tend to lump everything across the Atlantic into one clump called "Europe," including Britain, with many viewing Europe as only a vacation destination, its inhabitants part of the local color, not real human beings. This could be because we are so homogenized, which has its good points and bad. It means we aren't weighted down by a lot of unnecessary prejudices and conceits that come with so much history. It also means we don't have the depth of character that can be created by shedding the ancient feuds and ghosts of history, by learning the lessons history teaches and transforming our societies and cultures. In other words, one culture needs to experience more history, while the other needs to shed more history.  

At the end of each writer's talk, they were asked what they thought of the term "Incroci di Civiltà," or "Crossroads of Civilization." V.S. Naipaul said it was European with an Eastern flavor, and that it was too "romantic," which seemed to disappoint one of the organizers. I thought, "Well, somebody has to be romantic in the world today. And Venice is the most romantic city on earth. Of course a Venetian literary festival would be romantic!" Afterwards, I read Naipal's In a Free State, which won the Booker Award. The character Linda says: "I always thought you were a romantic, Bobby," to which Bobby replies: "You chose the wrong man."

More thoughts about "Crossroads of Civilization from other writers: 

Wladimir Kadimir - Russian Jew living in Berlin who writes in German.: "An opportunity to transform the charm of Europe to the future. I don't know if Europe is ready for this charm." 

Dubravka Ugrešić - Yugoslav Croatian writer living in Amsterdam: "Beautiful fusions, ideas, concepts, food, music..."

Etgar Keret - Israeli writer living in Tel Aviv, Israel: "Times are very special. Reality is not very normal. It will get crazier and crazier. A violent and dangerous meeting point."

Jón Kalman Stefánsson - Icelandic writer living in Iceland: "A place to share art. In a world of hatred and negative things, art can make the difference."

A.S. Byatt - English writer living in Sheffield, UK: "Like a temptation. A world culture." 

After Ezra Pound was set free from nearly thirteen years of internment at St. Elizabeths psychiatric hospital in Washington D.C. (now set to be the new home of the Department of Homeland Security), he was interviewed in 1960 by Donald Hall for the Paris Review. Pound said, "I am writing to resist the view that Europe and civilization are going to Hell. If I am being 'crucified for an idea' -- that is, the coherent idea around which my muddles accumulated -- it is probably the idea that European culture ought to survive, that the best qualities of it ought to survive along with whatever other cultures, in whatever universality. Against the propaganda of terror and the propaganda of luxury, have you a nice simple answer?"

I didn't get to experience every writer, but the conversations I did attend were fascinating, especially because of the different, yet similar, points of view, based on the writers' personal experience.  

Dubravka Ugrešić was born in 1949 in Croatia, the former Yugoslavia, living in Amsterdam. To add to the mix, her panel was in collaboration with Palazzo Grassi, owned by the Frenchman, François Pinault, and Wake Forest University in North Carolina, USA. The history of Yugoslavia itself is complex; click Wikipedia to learn more. Tito said of the country he ruled, "I am the leader of one country which has two alphabets, three languages, four religions, five nationalities, six republics, surrounded by seven neighbours, a country in which live eight ethnic minorities." 

Ugrešić lived in Berlin and Boston before settling in Amsterdam. She expressed nostalgia for the Yugoslavia she knew before it fell apart, and said she was Yugo-nostalgic when it was dangerous to have that label because it implied you were a communist, "which is stupid." After the war, she said there was a time when they were creating a totally new state and you could not watch movies or television; it felt like "somebody is forcing you to forget your life." She said she wrongly believed that the past was going to be deleted, and that they would no longer be able to see films from the fifties. Instead, Yugo-nostalgia became commercial -- there is wine with Tito's signature; socks with Tito's image; Tito's Favorite Meals cookbook. 

Now she does not feel nostalgia, but tremendous anger. "Why did the war happen? All that is put aside because these are the most painful questions. Now it's like everything is okay, which it certainly is not." Serious discussion about what the war was is dangerous. She feels cheated and robbed because the war was not for  democracy or a grand idea, but a business project. Twenty years later the people live worse and worse rather than better and better. She said she witnessed the construction of new identities. There were TV commercials that asked: "Do you have an identity?" They were required to say what nationality they were; what religion they were, etc., for an identity card. She said that twenty years ago more than a million and a half Yugoslavians, Serbs, Macedonians, Croatians, Bosnians, etc. did not want to be anything in particular. They were happy to be simply Yugoslavian. 

Etgar Keret was born in Tel Aviv in 1967. He writes short, dark stories that can be read on a bus and wants to write a novel, but "doesn't know how to explode slowly." He is a self-proclaimed control freak since both parents were Holocaust survivors and he grew up wondering if the Nazis were going to turn him in. He writes to lose control and express the irresponsible part of himself. "Nobody in real life gets hurt; the real world and your self are not in danger." He said that after reading his stories, people expect him to show up in leather on a bike, and are surprised: "You are a nice boy!" He said he felt like a spy in real life. His wife does not like that he invites taxi drivers into their home to use the toilet, but he can feel when the driver needs to use the toilet, and where else can he go? He says he glued his wife upside down on the ceiling in a story to be able to communicate with her and have gravity give her a smile. "The earth is against a smile." 

He said that Israel is a paradox. There is a strong affinity to religion, but they are open-minded and gay-friendly with a liberal Supreme Court. Yet right next door there are territories where people have no rights. He said they are told in Israel they have the best (as in moral) army in the world. He said it was like saying you are the best pizzeria in Germany. "You are an army!" He said when he takes his toddler to the park to play with the other children that the conversations are about what they are going to do when the tots are eighteen-years-old and have to join the army. One would leave the country. Another would get a medical exemption. He said it was not a natural situation. 

When asked about the Middle East, Eget said, "I don't know. Writers don't know how to fix situations. The Jews and the Palestinians both have a history of persecution. It's more like a contest about who has suffered more, who is the bigger victim." He said he was a compulsive optimist. "Now is not the time to sit back and let history take its course. Every person who wants to see a better world has to do something about it. The people must help create the world in which they want to live." 

Wladimir Kaminer is a Jew born in Moscow in 1967, who now lives in Berlin and writes in German. He is also a well-known DJ. When asked about German Chancellor Angela Merkel's statement: "Multiculturalism is a total failure," he said that something more is required than simply lifting the borders between nations. He called Germans "true representatives of enlightenment," and that what is needed are clear ideas. He said that Berlin was not Germany, and was in danger of succumbing to the same fate as Venice -- becoming a tourist attraction -- and that the "inhabitants don't want to be animals in a zoo." He said that after the war, the Germans as victims were the real winners, and proved that traumatized people can rise from the ashes. "Russia cannot go on living as if nothing happened. They must acknowledge the concentration camps and what Stalin did. Trauma can bring advantages -- to learn from history and not participate in conflicts; not take part in wars." He said that "citizens have to develop a sense of responsibility. Politicians are obsolete. No politicians can solve problems." 

Nathan Englander was born in New York in 1970, where he returned after living in Jerusalem for about six years. He wrote The Ministry of Special Cases set in Argentina in 1976 on the day of the coup because he wanted to write a novel about how politics invade one man. He said, "Nothing has to happen is my view of the world." He said he grew up as a fifth-generation Holocaust survivor in what he considered a very American family in an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood. "Normal people to me were Jewish people." He moved to Jerusalem and wrote his acclaimed collection of short stories, For the Relief of Unbearable Urges"Israel was the first place where I wasn't Jewish. The good guys and the bad guys were all wearing yarmulkes. I got to be an American for five or six years." From a 2001 interview with This Year in Jerusalem, compiled by Ken George called, "Lost and Found in Jerusalem:"

Englander discovered the city as a college student and nostalgically recalls mountain biking down dirt paths and fields through Jerusalem suburbs. He bemoans the frenetic urbanization that is forever altering a familiar landscape: bike paths are now paved highways; hills have been shorn of their peaks to accommodate new neighborhoods.
More distressing to him is the violence. Israeli commuters on those paved highways are now snipers' targets; daytrips to Englander's favorite Palestinian villages are no longer possible because of closures and reprisal shelling by Israel.
The end of the peace process is what will ultimately cause Englander to abandon the city he loves. "If they want to turn this into the Balkans, I'm gone," he says.

Jón Kalman Stefánsson was born in Reykjavik, Iceland in 1963, where he lives. He spoke about the recent eruption of Eyjafjallajökull, "the volcano with the unpronounceable name." He said that nature reminds us that she is in charge when a minor eruption of a volcano in Iceland had such a great impact on the world. He said, "We are all part of Mother Nature and we should listen. Within five years, this eruption will be forgotten." 

When it comes to the Icelandic language versus English, he said that English threatens English. He said, "English will die because everyone speaks it badly," and the question is shall we switch to Latin or shall we go on killing English? In 2008, during the crisis the Icelandic economy collapsed overnight. The people in Reykjavik took to the streets with pots and pans, which was dubbed the "Household Revolution," and knocked down the government. From The Times, January 27, 2009:

The global economic crisis claimed its first government yesterday when Iceland’s ruling coalition collapsed amid a cacophony of popular protest. The Government of Geir Haarde, the Prime Minister, resigned en masse after days of mounting anger over the country’s financial meltdown.The protests, which began peacefully after the nationalisation and overnight bankruptcy of Iceland’s three main banks, turned violent last week with the nation experiencing its worst riots in 60 years. At their height 32,000 people — more than 10 per cent of Iceland’s population — took to the streets of Reykjavik banging pots and pans in what came to be known as the “Household Revolution”.

Stefánsson said that books are highly regarded in Iceland, and that "literature overcomes our 'no way out' situation. "Literature is a fight against materialism to be free without any limitations. The more we write good literature, the less materialism will rule." He said it was dangerous when America, the most powerful country in the world, seemed to have no desire to know other cultures, which creates a narrow-minded vision. When asked what his greatest influence was, he said, "The Beatles." He said his oldest sister gave him the Beatles music in 1974 when he was ten-years-old, when they did not play together any more, which made him sad. He felt his mission was to bring the Beatles back together. He wanted to go speak to them, but then John Lennon was killed. He bought a guitar, hoping to join the band, but then George Harrison died, too, and he had to give up that dream.  


"I like inventing imaginary works of art that I could never make." A.S. Byatt 

"The minute the world changes, something else comes up." V.S. Naipaul

"Ego surfing on the Internet is one of the worst disorders that affect writers." Alessandro Piperno

Allesandro Piperno
"Everything has been said but no one is listening, so we have to say it all over again." Joann Sfar 

"All artists are eccentric. You need solitude." A.S. Byatt 

"With a Jewish father and a Catholic mother, I am the son of two enemies." Allesandro Piperno

"As a writer, I am responsible for the past. I do not consider visions for the future." Wladimir Kaminer 

Igiaba Scego
"Traveling is a human right." Igiaba Scego 

"My ancestors were potters. Making objects is one of the most interesting things human beings do, and one of the least dangerous." A.S. Byatt 

"Tragedy is a blind alley. Learn to laugh. Take it with humor, then you can find a way out. When a situation is not tolerable, people tell jokes." Wladimir Kaminer

"Why should I be pinned by ethnic identity? I am a representative of literature." Dubravka Ugrešić 

"I was very proud of the separation between church and state before we started dismantling basic democracy." Nathan Englander 

"I don't make the world. I just observe it." V.S. Naipaul

"High Hebrew was a written, not spoken, language for 2,000 years before they took it out and defrosted it. There is no word for 'car,' no words for modern inventions. A sentence can switch from high Hebrew to slang and back again. It's like the King James Bible and rap in the same sentence." Etgar Keret 

"I do not think we will save the planet." A.S. Byatt 

"A hundred years after the Heart of Darkness, we are still there. What are we to do?" V.S. Naipaul

Joann Sfar
"We have a right to say how we would like the world to be." Joann Sfar 

Ciao from Venice,

P.S. After publishing this blog, I received a kind invitation to view Contemporary Literary Horizon, an "INDEPENDENT, BILINGUAL AND MULTICULTURAL MAGAZINE OF CONTEMPORARY CULTURE AND SPIRITUALITY" 

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Veneto of Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway and his fourth wife, Mary Welsh
(Venice, Italy) The force of nature named "Ernest Hemingway" conjures up all kinds of images: writer, lover, soldier, hunter, fisherman and world-class drinker, to name a few. Wherever he touched down, he left powerful images in his wake, and he touched down hard in Venice and the Veneto. Promoted by the Venice International University, sponsored by the Veneto Region, and curated by Gianni Moriani, il Veneto di Ernest Hemingway offers intimate photos of the great man in a variety of local venues, some of which made their way into his books.

I usually quote from Wikipedia, but I have discovered the article about Ernest Hemingway to be badly written and full of blatant inaccuracies; for example, it says The Old Man and the Sea won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in May, 1952, when in reality it won in 1953. I even attempted to edit the article myself, but my changes were not published. (Perhaps someone who is more clever at Wikipedia editing would like to give it a try.) Of particular interest to me was the information regarding Hemingway's mental state prior to his suicide. From Wikipedia:

"The first installments of The Dangerous Summer were published in Life in September 1960 to good reviews. When he left Spain, he went straight to Idaho,[143] but was worried about money and his safety.[141] As his paranoia increased, he believed the FBI was actively monitoring his movements.[144][note 7] Hemingway suffered from physical problems as well: his health declined and his eyesight was failing.[145] In November he was admitted to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota,[143] where he may have believed he was to be treated for hypertension.[146] Meyers writes that "an aura of secrecy surrounds Hemingway's treatment at the Mayo", but confirms that in December 1960 he received electroconvulsive therapy as many as 15 times, then in January 1961 he was "released in ruins".[147]"

Since there seems to be a pattern when it comes to writers, Venice, US intelligence agencies, and psychiatric hospitals, I did more research and found that Hemingway's concerns about the FBI targeting him were perfectly valid. From a March 11, 1983 article by Herbert Mitgang entitled 'Publishing F.B.I. File on Hemingway' on the New York Times website:

Aliterary scholar says he has turned up new evidence of an effort by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to discredit Ernest Hemingway in his attempt to spy on potential Nazi sympathizers in Cuba during World War II. The scholar, Jeffrey Meyers, a 43-year-old professor of English at the University of Colorado, says he learned of the F.B.I.'s activities from a previously unknown 124-page F.B.I. file on Hemingway obtained in January under the Freedom of Information Act.

Click HERE to read the entire article.

Then, in the Autumn 1985 Virginia Quarterly Review, Jeffrey Meyers himself wrote a rather tedious article entitled 'The Quest for Ernest Hemingway' which contained more riveting information:

"I made the most interesting find by using the Freedom of Information Act to obtain a copy of the FBI file on Hemingway (as well as on Pound and Duran). These fascinating documents revealed that J. Edgar Hoover conducted a personal vendetta against Hemingway after the novelist had founded a rival spy network in Cuba during World War II, pursued him for the next 18 years to the doors of the Mayo Clinic—Hemingway was quite sane when he said he was being followed by the FBI—and kept the file active until 13 years after Hemingway's death."

Click HERE to read the entire article.

The Soviet Union was notorious for using "punitive psychiatry" to discredit, isolate and physically and mentally break those who were considered "troublemakers."

According to Wikipedia, "Political abuse of psychiatry is the misuse of psychiatric diagnosis, detention and treatment for the purposes of obstructing the fundamental human rights of certain groups and individuals in a society." 

Speaking from personal experience, punitive psychiatry is absolute torture. In the 21st Century, I do not think that Russia has the power to order that punitive psychiatry be used against an law-abiding American citizen who lives legally in Italy. I think the only country who would pretend to have that kind of "power" over me, award-winning author Catherine Ann "Cat" Bauer, would be the United States of America. Luckily, the country of Italy is the global champion when it comes to mental health and human rights. In 1978, Italy passed Basaglia Law (Law 180) whose principal architect was the Venetian Franco Basaglia -- and if Los Angeles "lawyers" Sara Jane Boyers and Steven R. Boyers, or William R. Gill and Megan H. Jones of the US State Department had any intelligence they would have educated themselves before attempting such a stunt. God bless Franco Basaglia! 

Credit: Will McIntyre
Science Photo Library
When it comes to Hemingway, electroshock therapy remains a controversial treatment to this day, its main side effect being loss of memory. From a Wikipedia article that seems to be properly sourced and cited:
"According to prominent ECT researcher Harold Sackeim, "despite over fifty years of clinical use and ongoing controversy", until 2007 there had "never been a large-scale, prospective study of the cognitive effects of ECT."[43] In this first-ever large-scale study (347 subjects), Sackeim and colleagues found that at least some forms (namely bilateral application and outdated sine-wave currents) of ECT "routine[ly]" lead to "adverse cognitive effects," including global cognitive deficits and memory loss, that persist for up to six months after treatment, suggesting that the induced deficits may be permanent.[43][44] 

In any event, Ernest Hemingway first arrived in the Veneto Region in 1918 during World War I, his memory firmly intact. He was a boy of eighteen, who had signed on to drive an ambulance in Italy, which, by the way, was manufactured by Fiat (and after recently hooking up with Chrysler will soon be known as... Fysler). A couple of months after Heingway's arrival, while he was stationed in Fossalta di Piave about forty miles north of Venice, he was seriously wounded by mortar fire. He spent six months recuperating in a Red Cross hospital in Milan where he famously fell in love with his nurse, Agnes von Kurowsky.

In 1923 he wintered in Cortina d'Ampezzo with his first wife, Hadley Richardson, and returned there in 1948, with his fourth wife, Mary Welsh, a Time magazine correspondent. They lived for a at time in Cortina, where Hemingway met Fernanda Pivano, who translated A Farewell to Arms into Italian, and is credited with introducing American literature to Italy. The Hemingways also spent time in Venice, staying at the Hotel Gritti Palace, where Ernest started work on Across the River and Into the Trees, a novel inspired by his real-life love affair with a young Venetian aristocrat named Adriana Ivancich. Here are some recollections from Giuseppe Cipriani, the general founder of Harry's Bar:

Mary & Ernest Hemingway with Adriana Ivancich
During the long, cold winter of 1949-50, Ernest Hemingway installed himself comfortably in the Concordia room. Hemingway practically dropped in on us that year, and divided his time between the Inn on Torcello, the Gritti, and Harry's Bar, where he had a table of his own in a corner. He was the only client with whom once during an outing to Torcello I had to drink a little myself – much, much more than a little, actually – just to keep up with him.

Hemingway was the only client, I was saying, because I have always believed that the client's place is on one side of the counter, and the barman's is on the other.  Everything in its place....but he had such an overwhelming personality that it was impossible to maintain any barriers. He was generous to a fault, and filled more pages of his check-book than those of a medium length novel. At the time, he was just finishing "Over the River and Into the Trees" in which he mentions Harry's Bar many times. Every time I hear someone say "Hemingway sure gave you a lot of free promotion!" I say: "You're all wet, Bud. It was me and my bar that promoted him. They gave him the Nobel prize afterwards, not before."

In 1954, the Hemingways went on an African safari. Ernest chartered a plane as a Christmas gift for Mary, which crashed in the wilds of Uganda. Then, 48-hours later, they boarded another plane to go to Entebbe to seek medical treatment and that plane exploded at takeoff. Several newspapers reported that the Hemingways were dead. From the New York Times archives:

January 26, 1954

Hemingway Out of the Jungle; Arm Hurt, He Says Luck Holds

Entebbe, Uganda, Jan. 25--Ernest Hemingway arrived in Entebbe today after having survived two plane crashes in the elephant country of Uganda.
His head was swathed in bandages and his arm was injured, but the novelist, who is 55 years old, quipped: "My luck, she is running very good."
He was carrying a bunch of bananas and a bottle of gin. With him was his wife, the former Mary Welsh. She had two cracked ribs and was limping as Mr. Hemingway helped her from an automobile that brought them here from Butiaba, 170 miles away.

The Hemingways decided to recuperate from their injuries at the Hotel Gritti Palace in Venice. The local papers announced their arrival with headlines like: Scampi e Valpolicella cura per Hemingway or "Scampi and Valpolicella Cure for Hemingway." From the Gazzettino-Sera: "Ernest Hemingway announced he will stay in Venice to recover from the injuries incurred in the well-known African accidents, with a powerful cure based on scampi and vapolicella." As part of the Hemingway exhibit, the Hotel Gritti Palace, one of my sponsors, is displaying their Gold Book of 1948 with Hemingway's signature and inscription: "to our home in Venice," and offering a special Hemingway menu based on his famous cure, which you can find by clicking HERE.

In the 1958 edition of Writers at Work, interviews from the Paris Review, selected by Kay Dick, George Plimpton interviews Ernest Hemingway:

Fernanda Pivano & Hemingway
Dobbiaco, Oct 12, 1948
Benetton Foundation
Photo: Ettore Sottsass
Interviewer:  How complete in your own mind is the conception of a short story? Does the theme, or the plot, or a character change as you go along?

Hemingway:  Sometimes you know the story. Sometimes you make it up as you go along and have no idea how it will come out. Everything changes as it moves. That is what make the movement which makes the story. Sometimes the movement is so slow it does not seem to be moving. But there is always change and always movement.

Interviewer:  Is it the same with the novel, or do you work out the whole plan before you start and adhere to it rigorously?

Hemingway: For Whom the Bell Tolls was a problem which I carried on each day. I knew what was going to happen in principle. But I invented what happened each day I wrote.

Interviewer:  Were the Green Hills of Africa, To Have and Have Not, and Across the River and Into the Trees all started as short stories and developed into novels? If so, are the two forms so similar that the writer can pass from one to the other without completely revamping his approach?

Hemingway:  No, that is not true. The Green Hills of Africa is not a novel but was written in an attempt to write an absolutely true book to see whether the shape of a country and the pattern of a month's action could, if truly presented, compete with a work of the imagination. After I had written it I wrote two short stories, 'The Snows of Kilimanjaro' and 'The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber'. These were stories which I invented from the knowledge and experience acquired on the same long hunting trip one month of which I had tried to write a truthful account of in The Green Hills. To Have and Have Not and Across the River and Into the Trees were both started as short stories.

Interviewer:  Do you find it easy to shift from one literary project to another or do you continue through to finish what you start?

Hemingway:  The fact that I am interrupting serious work to answer these questions proves that I am so stupid that I should be penalized severely. I will be. Don't worry. 

Il Veneto di Ernest Hemingway runs from April 2 to May 15, 2011.

Ciao from Venice,

The Veneto of Ernest Hemingway
Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti
Palazzo Loredan
Campo Santo Stefano
Tues - Fri 2pm to 6pm
Sat & Sun 11am to 6pm
Closed Mondays
Admission: free

Il Veneto di Ernest Hemingway
A cura di Gianni Moriani, Rosella Mamoli Zorzi e Graziano Arici.
martedì-venerdì 14-18
sabato-domenica 11-18
chiuso il lunedì
Ingresso gratuito