When among the trees the wind had turned to the sea
And in the velvet of the shadow the sand was damp,
A wave pulled it out and carefully placed it
On a bright shell cemetery.
At the edge of the boiling sea life
It stands unusually rigid, lofty but slain,
Like he still looks at the billows of the horizon,
With its wistful neck bent up.
Dirty and salty are its open wings,
The striking storm sings its a deaf burial,
Killed shells gleam around it,
Whose cores are borne by warm.
Thrown by waves on the dry and hard shore
They died without a fight, glittering rich now.
Their white light shining was disturbed
By its wing covered by stifled mud.
A seagull screams above in the air
Dancing in abrupt jumps defying the boundlessness.
The storm warrior thrown between the mollusks
Blinks in its faded eye a new ascent.
When the breeze grows, its wing gets thrilled
And, resurrected for a moment by an unseen impulse,
Looks like it will fly again, last time,
To a more sober and dignified cemetery.
Nicolae Labis, Killed Albatross
Existentialist atheism states that if God does not exist, then there is at least one being whose existence precedes the essence, a being that exists before being defined by any concept, and that being is man…
What is meant here by the statement that existence precedes the essence? This means that man first exists, is located, emerges in the world and then is defined. As conceived by existentialists, man is undefined because in the beginning he is still nothing. But then he will be something, and he will be what he becomes by himself. In this way there is no human nature, because there is no God who can conceive of it.
Dostoevsky wrote: “If God does not exist, then everything is permitted”. This is the starting point of existentialism. Indeed, everything is permissible if God does not exist, and consequently man is abandoned because he finds nothing in himself or outside him any possibility for him to hold on. He can no longer find excuses.
If indeed existence precedes the essence, we will never be able to explain something by reference to a given or fixed nature. Therefore, there is no determinism: man is free, man is freedom. On the hand, if God does not exist, we do not find any value that would legitimize our behavior. Today, neither behind us, nor in front of us, in the luminous field of values we have no excuses or justifications. We are alone, without any excuse.
If we suppressed God, then someone must invent the values. Things need to be taken as they are. And, besides, to say we invent values means that life does not have a defined meaning beforehand. Before you live, life is nothing. But you are the one who gives meaning, and the values are nothing more than the meaning you choose…
J. P. Sartre, Existentialism Is a Humanism
Ernest Miller Hemingway (1898-1961), the great realist of twentieth century American fiction was born in Chicago, Illinois, on July 21, 1898. After he graduated from high school there followed a brief period when tried his hand as a day laborer, a sparring-partner, and a reporter. At the age of nineteen he went to Italy as an honorary lieutenant in the Red Cross, with a volunteer American ambulance unit, and was severely wounded on the Italian front in 1918. After the armistice he returned to America where he worked for a while in Canada for the Toronto Star but finding himself unhappy with America, he took off to Paris as a foreign correspondent for the same Toronto Star.
Hemingway’s first book, In Our Time (1924), is a collection of stories. Nick Adams, the central figure, appears in seven of the stories and is a sort of alter ego for the young Hemingway. This honest, sensitive boy forever been registered in the youth’s memory, shaping his future physiognomy. And as ill luck would have it, these psychos injuries are finally enhanced by a physical wound Nick gets while in the war – a fact which culminates the former wounds he has been given as a growing boy.
In the same crippling wound Nick’s duplicates will get (Jack in The Sun Also Rises, Frederic Henry in A Farewell to Arms, Cantwill in Across the River and Into the Trees) and which will make the Hamingway’s protagonists break with the society which has caused him suffering and, eventually, to become an expatriate.
What is important to understand at this point is the fact that Nick, though under other names and in other books, is going to be known as the ‘Hemingway hero” – a consistent character who exemplifies certain principles of honor, courage, and endurance which enable him to conduct himself well in the battle of life.
Two years after the publication of his first book, Hemingway issued his first important novel, The Sun Also Rises (1926), the action of which is set in a period of post-war isolation and moral confusion.
The belief that people while trying to create their lives are caught up by events is once more present in Hemingway’s next book. A Farewell to Arms (1929), a distinguished war novel based on his service in Italy. It describes the whole panorama of civilization by war, disjointed exposing the evils of war. Another important thing the book does is to explain how the characters of The Sun Also Rises got the way they are and therefore the two novels are to be considered as complementary to each other.
Hemingway’s enthusiasm for the international brigades which were fighting a crusade for human liberty in the 1930’s induce to write his best and longest novel, For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940), built on an incident during the Spanish Civil War. The author gives the action a universal significance by showing that the loss of liberty in once place means a loss everywhere.
After the publication of this war novel Hemingway lapsed into a silence that lasted a whole decade.
The Old Man and the Sea which appeared in 1952 was unanimously acclaimed as Hemingway’s literature triumph. It is the tragic tale of an aged Cuban fisherman’s battle with a marlin which, through the extended metaphor of a man’s struggle with the natural world, is a parable of man’s life.
SOURCE: Virgiliu Stefanescu-Draganesti, Ernest Hemingway