A new edition of Ernest Hemingway’s classic Farewell to Arms is set to be released next week and will include a whopping forty-seven alternate endings written and ultimately rejected by Hemingway.
Newser reports that the new edition will also be published with early drafts of other passages, handwritten notes, alternate titles, and the original cover art. The added content comes from the Ernest Hemingway collection at the JFK Presidential Library in Boston.
Hemingway said in a 1958 interview that the ending of the novel was written thirty-nine times before he was “satisfied,” though his grandson Seán Hemingway found forty-seven variations that have been compiled for the new edition. According to the New York Times, the new edition is appearing as part of an agreement between the Hemingway estate and Scribner, a Simon & Schuster imprint.
The edition is being released to steer attention towards Hemingway’s literary accomplishments. In the words of his grandson, “I think people who are interested in writing and trying to write themselves will find it interesting to look at a great work and have some insight to how it was done…he is a writer who has captured the imagination of the American public, and these editions are interesting because they really focus on his work. Ultimately that’s his lasting contribution.” Hemingway’s only surviving son, Patrick, approved of the new release. In his words, the alternate endings “…give insight to how Hemingway was thinking…but it is absolutely true that no matter how much you analyze a classic bit of writing, you can never really figure out what makes talent work.”
The new edition promises to shine a light on the creative process of Hemingway, and demonstrates a number of different directions that the ending could have taken. Alternate endings vary from a few sentences to several paragraphs.
Still, even with the additional content, Susan Moldow, publisher of Scribner, said that “Ultimately…we have to be glad that he went with the ending that he went with.”