in A Farewell to Arms
"How much re-writing do you do?"
"It depends. I re-wrote the ending of A Farewell to Arms, the last page of it, thirty-nine times before I was satisfied."
"Was there some technical problem there? What was it that had you stumped?"
"Getting the words right."
From George Plimpton's 1958 Paris Review interview with Hemingway
The final act of enclosure in A Farewell to Arms consists of less than one page of print, just under two hundred words. In its own way, however, as a dramatic piece of tightly rendered fiction, it proves to be as structurally sound and effective as the evocative "overture" (chap. 1) with which the novel opens. Long admired critically, this conclusion has become one of the most famous segments in American fiction—having been used in college classrooms across the land as a model of compositional compression and as an object lesson in authorial sweat, in what Horace called "the labor of the file." The undocumented story of how hard Hemingway worked to perfect the ending of A Farewell to Arms approached the level of academic legend. Some tellers of the tale said he wrote the conclusion fifty times, some as high as ninety; others used the safer method of simply saying Hemingway wrote it, rewrote it, and re‐ rewrote it. Carlos Baker, in his otherwise highly detailed biography, says of the matter only that "Between May 8th and 18th  he rewrote the conclusion several times in the attempt to get it exactly right." In____________________
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Publication information: Book title: Ernest Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms. Contributors: Harold Bloom - Editor. Publisher: Chelsea House. Place of publication: Philadelphia. Publication year: 1987. Page number: 77.
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