Sacred Rage in The Fifth Column
In The Fifth Column, the hero, who has become finally indistinguishable from the false or publicity Hemingway, has here dosed himself with whiskey; a seductive and desirous woman, for whom he has the most admirable reasons for not taking any responsibility; sacred rage; the excitement of bombardment; and indulgence in that headiest of sports, for which he has now the same excellent reasons -- the bagging of human beings.
You may be afraid, after reading The Fifth Column, that Hemingway will never sober up; but as you go on in the new volume in which it appears, which includes also his most recent short stories, you find that your apprehensions were unfounded. Three of these stories have a great deal more body -- they are longer and more complex -- than the comparatively meagre anecdotes collected in Winner Take Nothing. And here are his real artistic successes with the material of his experiences in Africa, which make up for the miscarried Green Hills: 'The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber' and 'The Snows of Kilimanjaro,' which disengage, by dramatizing them objectively, the themes which in the carlier book never really got themselves presented. And here is at least a beginning of a real artistic utilization of Hemingway's experience in Spain: a little incident in two pages which outweighs the whole of The Fifth Column and all his Spanish dispatches, about an old man, 'without politics,' who has occupied his life in taking care of eight pigeons, two goats, and a cat, and who has been dislodged and separated from his pets by the advance of the Fascist armies -- a story which takes its place in the category of the war series of Callot and Goya, whose union of elegance with sharpness Heming...
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...ntrol of his world, and he has also, within his scope, provided his own kind of antidote. This antidote, paradoxically, is almost entirely moral. Despite his preoccupation with physical contests, his heroes are almost always defeated physically, nervously, practically: their victories are moral ones. He himself, when he trained himself stubbornly in his unconventional, unmarketable art in a Paris which had other fashions, gave the prime example of such a victory; and if he has sometimes, under the menace of the general panic, seemed on the point of going to pieces as an artist, he has always pulled himself together the next moment. The principle of the Bourdon gauge, which is used to measure the pressure of liquids, is that a tube which has been curved into a coil will tend to straighten out in proportion as the liquid inside it is subjected to an increasing pressure.
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