Tuesday, October 18, 2011

There were many words you could not stand to hear

"I was always embarrassed by the words sacred, glorious, and sacrifice, and the expression in vain. We had heard them, sometimes standing in the rain almost out of earshot, so that only the shouted words came through, and had read them, on proclamations that were slapped up by billposters over other proclamations, now for a long time, and I had seen nothing sacred, and the things that were glorious had no glory and the sacrifices were like the stockyards at Chicago if nothing was done with the meat except to bury it. There were many words that you could not stand to hear and finally only the names of places had dignity. Certain numbers were the same way and certain dates and these with the names of the places were all you could say and have them mean anything. Abstract words such as glory, honor, courage, or hallow were obscene beside the concrete names of villages, the numbers of roads, the names of rivers, the numbers of regiments and the dates."

A Farewell to Arms
Ernest Hemingway, 1929

Do you respond differently to this statement (made by a fictional character) than you do to the declaration (found HERE) about the importance of honor, courage, duty, and sacrifice made by William Faulkner when he accepted the Nobel Prize for literature in 1950?

-- Posted by Liz Holmes

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