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ACROSS THE RIVER AND INTO THE TREES

By Ernest Hemingway
New York: A Scribner Classic, 1978 (from 1950 original)
ISBN: 0-684-18496-6 308 pages

Bob Corbett
April 2016

Colonel Richard Cantwell is returning to Venice from his post in Trieste, just to the northeast of Venice. His driver, Jackson is a quiet and respectful young soldier and the two seem to get along quite well. Richard had lived in Venice for some years and not only knows many people among the elite of Venice, but they know him and he seems warmly received.

Surprisingly he is 51 years old, yet views himself as quite old. He had been a one star general in WWII which means he must have been one of the youngest generals in the war. However, he was demoted after the war (no reasons given) and is now a colonel, but still on active duty.

Heís loved THREE women, lost them all and now has a 4th. She is from the highest echelons of Venice society, rich, beautiful and only 18. She seems to adore him, and the two talk a great deal about getting married and having a long and loving life, yet neither of them seems really serious about this. Itís sort of like a game they play where each knows itís a game, yet they treat it as though it werenít.

This ex-general seems to be a character that is very much like the author Ernest Hemingway! Heís in control of things, quite harsh, very bright, yet crude in other ways. His language and tones of talking are rough and harsh, but intelligent, even learned. Maybe this is Hemingway dreaming of a Hemingway who might have been.

There really is very little which really ďhappensĒ in the course of the novel, and what does isnít overwhelmingly gripping. Yet I really enjoyed the book and kept reading and reading, never wanting to put it down. I actually finished the novel in one and half days. I found it gripping, yet, oddly, not really great. I find those feelings as being somehow incompatible, yet they are descriptive of my reading.

Bob Corbett corbetre@webster.edu

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Bob Corbett corbetre@webster.edu