By W. J.
'THERE are writers whose I deaths leave gaps in one's day to day existence. Hemingway was one of them. He made his name and was himself: consequently he is irreplaceable.
But there were two Hemingways. The first the critics have insisted upon was the Hemingway who wrote, as it were, from the side of his mouth, in monosyllables, choosing as his "hero" the tough and brutish, or, if you like, "the noble savage". He was the lesser Hemingway but he wrote magnificent short stories, "Fifty Grand". "The Killers", technically the most impressive, and the bullfighting tales.
"The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber" ironically viewed the other Hemingway hero who reached fuller status in the novels. This Hemingway more truly was an American of his generation, an artist moved by the Aristotelian concept. His hero was not a savage; his nobility had life on a humane level.
He was at his hest in "Fiesta" (which has affinities with Mr. Waugh's "Vile Bodies"), "A Farewell to Arms" and "For Whom the Bell Tolls". The central character in each of these books is a man of education, an American who volunteers, out of idealism, to fight in a European war and is doomed. I believe Hemingway's best book is "Fiesta", but in "For Whom the Bell Tolls" he touched greatness. He was, incidentally, perhaps the only writer who used a living man as a "villain" in a novel giving him his true name: I refer to Andre Marty, the French commissar in "For Whom the Bell Tolls".
I have thought occasionally about Hemingway and religion. There is the passage in "A Farewell In Arms" when Henry's mistress having died in childbirth, her lover, who does not believe in Cod, regrets his son's death unbaptised because, he tells himself. baptism shouid be true. There are the vacuous lives of the characters in "Fiesta" given harsher edge by the liturgical movements of the Spanish crowds, There are the thoughts of the Nationalist officer in “For Whom the Bell Tolls" as he leads an assault on guerrilla fighters.
Hemingway knew, in a tragic way and profoundly, what religion was all about. On Sunday night I believe a great many people
who mourned him, prayed for him too.
The Vatican newspaper Osservatore Romano said Hemingway was "a great writer but not enlightened by the grace of Christianity. He had actively taken part in the troubled vicissitudes of his and our time. His work, full of lively art and poetry, testifies with a robust and meaningful accent to the crisis of an era tormented by the realties of war in justice and