Friday, July 6, 2012

Ernest as a parlour game?

Tassos Paschalis

    I haven't any interest in seeing 
    the new edition of Farewell to 
    Arms being played as a publicity 
    coup, a conspiracy of the auth-
    or's heirs and his Princeton-bred
    publisher (now subsumed in S & S), 
    to keep his name in lights. But,
    with the new edition offering 
    some 47 of the known variants 
    which the writer considered 
    for ending the novel, it's on-
    ly innocently true, that once 
    again scholarship resembles a 
    parlour game for dinner parties
    in a Whit Stillman demographic.

    I don't think I'll play; I ad-
    mire that he wrestled the thing
    to ground at all, never mind how
    well. Not every excision from a
    draft manuscript is probitive,
    except of being unchosen. An un-
    used phrase is not rejected, it
    is unused. But the cardinal fact,
    underlying everything else tend-
    ing toward caution in the use of
    such manuscripts, is what a flim-
    sy compass the stoutest of them
    is, for what had flickered through
    and behind the creative screen.

    Our best guide to precisely that
    making, is what he had chosen to
    say before: each choice, in him,
    reinforcing terms of notorious
    "simplicity." Pretty cool? There
    is our game, far above the deftly
    fallen waistband and the archly
    rugged buckle of our stance, in-
    side the eye that's blinded by
    the retina that pulls away from
    focus in the strain of being con-
    sistent. To haul our story to the
    ground calls now upon that memory
    which is the raw act, revisited
    through the flow of blood. Then
    do they read.


iii  Jeremy Young

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