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Rather than tax the reader with more in-text annotation than is absolutely necessary, annotations are clustered by paragraph and linked via paragraph number. These annotations serve definition, clarification, and comparative purposes only, and a critical treatment of "Banal Story," and the all text's apparatus, appear on separate pages.

Arrow icons in the list below launch PDF copies of each version of "Banal Story."

  • Banal Story (normal text) -- common to all versions
  • Banal Story -- manuscript version, Jan. 1925
  • [ Banal Story ] -- Little Review version, 1926
  • { Banal Story } -- Men Without Women version, 1927
  • ( 1 ) -- all text editorial paragraph number & annotation link
  • (6) -- all text editorial paragraph number
  • ^ -- all text editorial mark

Banal Story [ BANAL STORY ] { BANAL STORY }

By Ernest Hemingway

(1) So he [ SO HE ] { So he } ate an orange, slowly spitting out the seeds. Outside { , } the snow was turning to rain. Inside { , } the electric stove seemed to give no heat and rising from his writing { - } table { , } he sat down upon the stove. He farted silently into the warm depths of the electric stove. How good it felt . [ . ] { ! } Here at last was life.

(2 ) He reached for another orange. Far away in Paris { , } Mascart had knocked Danny Frush cuckoo in the second round. Far off in Mesopotamia { , } 21 [21] { twenty-one } feet of snow had fallen. Across the world in distant Australia { , } the English Cricketers were sharpening their wickets. There [ There ] { There } was Romance.

(3) He farted unvoluntarily.

(4) Patrons of the arts and letters have discovered The Forum [ The Forum ] { The Forum } , he mused [ mused ] { read }. It is the guide, philosopher { , } and friend of the thinking minority. Prize short { - } stories -- will their authors write our best { - } sellers of to { - } morrow?

(5) You will enjoy these warm, homespun, American tales, bits of real life on the open ranch, in crowded tenement or comfortable home { , } and all with a healthy undercurrent of humor.

(6)6 I must read them, he thought.

(7) His thoughts raced on [ He read on ] { He read on } . Our children's children -- what of them? Who of them? New means must be discovered to find room for us under the sun. Shall this be done by war or can it be done by peaceful methods?

(8) Or will we all have to move to Canada?

(9) Our deepest convictions -- will science upset them? Our civilization -- is it inferior to older orders of things . [ . ] { ? }

(10) He farted unvoluntarily.

(11). The same issue featured an introductory poem 'To the Mayas' by H. Phelps Clawson (The Forum 74 [August 1925]: 161), and an essay entitled 'The Answer of Ancient America,' which dealt with the Mayan civilization in the Yucatan (The Forum 74 [August 1925]: 162-71). (188) ]) And meanwhile { , } in the far { - } off dripping jungles of Yucatan { , } sounded the chopping of the axes of the gum choppers.

(12) Do we want big men -- or do we want them cultured? Take Joyce. Take President Coolidge. What star must our college students aim at? There is Jack Britton. There is Dr. Henry Van Dyke. Can we reconcile the two? Take the case of Young Stribling.

(13) And what of our daughters who must make their own Soundings? Nancy Hawthorne is obliged to make her own Soundings in the sea of life. Bravely and sensibly she faces the problems which come to every girl of eighteen.

(14) { It was a splendid booklet. }

(15) Are you a girl of eighteen? Take the case of Joan of Arc. Take the case of Bernard Shaw. Take the case of Betsy Ross.

(16) Think of these things in 1925 -- was [ was ] { Was } there a risqué [ risque ] { risqué } page in Puritan History? Were there two sides to Pocahontas? { Did he have a fourth dimension? }

(17) Are Modern paintings -- and poetry -- Art . [ ? ] { ? } Yes and No. Take Picasso. Have tramps codes of conduct? Send your mind adventuring. [ Have tramps codes of conduct? Send your mind adventuring. ]

(18) { Have tramps codes of conduct? Send your mind adventuring. }

(19) There is Romance everywhere. Forum [ Forum ] { Forum } writers talk to the point, are possessed of humor and wit. But they do not try to be smart and are never long { - } winded.

(20 ) Live the full life of the mind { , } exhilarated by new ideas, intoxicated by the Romance of the unusual. { He lay down the booklet. }

(21 ) And meanwhile stretched flat on a bed in a darkened room in his house in Triana, Manuel Garcia Maera lay

with the

with a tube in each lung { , } drowning of pneumonia. All the papers in Andalucia devoted special supplements to his death
{ , } which had been expected for some days. Men and boys bought full { - } length colored pictures of him to remember him by { , } and lost the picture they had of him in their memories by looking at the lithographs. Bull { - } fighters were very relived he was dead { , } because he did always in the bull { - } ring the things they could only do

other bullfighters
and made them seem cheap and vulgar.

sometimes ^ [ . ] { . } They all marched in the rain behind his coffin and there were one hundred and forty seven [ one hundred and forty-seven ] { one hundred and forty-seven } bull { - } fighters followed him out to the cemetery { , } where they buried him in the tomb next to Joselito. After the funeral everyone sat in the cafés [ cafes ] { cafés } out of the rain { , } and many colored pictures of Maera were sold to men who rolled them up and put them away in their pockets.

ERNEST HEMINGWAY [ ERNEST HEMINGWAY ]

Editor's Note

Critics who've approached "Banal Story" all agree that, in Susan F. Beegel's words, the story "has been neglected because it depends on readers' understanding numerous allusions to The Forum -- an American monthly magazine well known in the 1920s but now long forgotten" (Hemingway's Neglected Short Fiction: New Perspectives. Ed. Susan F. Beegel. Ann Arbor, MI: UMI Research Press, 1989, 141). Indeed, the scant critical treatments concerned with the story have all tried to address this issue by linking the references, questions, and statements in the first part of the story with issues of The Forum magazine, namely those from 1924 and 1925.

In the spirit of the all text concept, the following annotations gather these links together in an attempt to create a key for understanding the archaic and obscure references "Banal Story" makes to The Forum.

The critical articles I draw from follow. Full-text versions of each can be accessed by clicking the icon beside each citation.

  • Wayne Kvam, "Hemingway's 'Banal Story.'" Fitzgerald/Hemingway Annual (1974): 181-91.
  • George Monteiro, "The Writer on Vocation: Hemingway's 'Banal Story.'" In Hemingway's Neglected Short Fiction: New Perspectives.
    141-47.
  • Paul Smith, "Banal Story." In A Reader's Guide to the Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway. Boston: G.K. Hall, 1989. 110-14.
    Also included are pp. xvi-xvii, 104-05, and 234-35 in which Smith discusses the relationship between "Banal Story" and the matador Manuel Garcia Maera.
  • Phillip R. Yannella, "Notes on the Manuscript, Date, and Sources of Hemingway's 'Banal Story.'" Fitzgerald/Hemingway Annual (1974):
    175-79.
  1. Concerning the deleted lines (re: flatulence) in paragraphs one, three, and ten, Yannella makes the following points:

    "These deletions were not made arbitrarily by either Margaret Anderson or Jane Heap. In a letter to Jane Heap accompanying the manuscript, the changes were suggested by the author himself, in case the Post Office authorities would not allow the word 'fart.' No doubt the editors were a bit gun-shy at this point -- they had of course experienced difficulties with the Post Office before -- and had no intention of making this rather slight short story a test case on the limitations of freedom and the government's right to censor. So the changes were made." (176)

    With an insightful and irresistible snicker, Yannella also notes that the manuscript version (with the offending lines included) "underscores the connection between banality and anality" (176).

  2. Edouard Mascart (1902-?) was a French featherweight boxer who fought from 1923-29. His final record was 10-11-2. Danny Frush (1899-1961) was a British featherweight boxer who fought from 1918-28. His final record was 38-12-2. The boxing match to which the story refers is most likely the January 28, 1925 European Featherweight title fight held in Paris, France. As the story indicates, Mascart knocked Frush out in the second round to retain his title as the European Featherweight Champion (see Yannella 176).

    Monteiro notes that:

    On the night of 27 January 1925, 'far away in Paris,' Edouard Mascart, the French featherweight champion of Europe, had knocked out an Englishman, Danny Frush. He knocked him 'cuckoo' at one minute and twenty seconds of the second round. The Associated Press reported: 'No count by the referee was necessary. Frush was out for several minutes' ("Frush Knocked Out by Mascart in 2D," New York Times [ 28 January 1925]: 11). (142)

    The reference to Mesopotamian snow remains obscured; but if the date of the Mascart-Frush fight is to be believed, then we can imagine there was some sort of major snow storm in Mesopotamia (that area of the Middle East roughly occupied by modern-day Iraq but more generally located between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers: an area that was part of the Ottoman Empire and a British Mandate from 1918-32) in late January, 1925.

    This timeframe is further substantiated by the cricket reference which most likely refers to the 30th Ashes Test (Cricket) Series that ran from December 1924-March 1925 in Melbourne and Sydney Australia. By what seems to be the date of the newspaper (ca. January 29, 1925), three of five test matches had been played; and the English team was behind the Australians 3-0. (When the test series finished on March 4, 1925 in Sydney, the Australian team had won 4-1.) Monteiro substantiates this; he writes "[i]n Australia the English cricketers are 'sharpening up their wickets' and end up losing all three matches to the Aussies, a defeat that upsets 'all London' ("Test Cricket Game Stirs All London," New York Times [ 23 January 1925]: 16).

  3. See ¶ 1 annotations.
  4. The Forum: A Magazine of Discussion was a literary magazine published in New York from 1896-1930. Monteiro has noted the following about The Forum:

    "The Forum described itself, in the words of Henry Goddard Leach, its editor at the time: 'A Non-Partisan Magazine of Free Discussion. What Is Praised in This Issue May Be Attacked in the Next. The Forum Aids to Interpret the New America That Is Attaining National Consciousness in the Decade in Which We Live'" (The Forum 74 [August 1925]: 161). (147 n4)

    Phillip R. Yannella argues that:

    "many of the details of the story, many of the rhetorical pomposities and stock phrases of lowbrow romance and yellow journalism are drawn directly from the pages of the January 1925 issue of The Forum. This magazine, edited in New York, was in its day one of the prime organs for the dissemination of what passed as concerned intelligence. In the years of Harding's Presidency it appealed to what it termed a great 'silent majority.' It offered articles on such topics as the youth movement, civilization and its prospects, the future of science; and it printed poems, usually by ladies with three names, dealing with the wonders of nature, and short stories and serialized novels about the trials and tribulations of virtuous young persons." (176-77)

    From here, Yanella continues to argue his point and link aspects of "Banal Story" with The Forum. Likewise, Kvam calls the magazine "a prominent American magazine of the 1920's" (182); and like Monteiro, Kvam cites Leach's ideas about The Forum:

    "According to the autobiography of Henry G. Leach [My Last Seventy Years. New York: Bookman Asso., 1956] ... "[i]n five years from 1923 to 1928, the circulation of The Forum increased from 2,000 to 102,00 which was in those days deemed satisfactory for an 'intellectual periodical.' Carl Sandburg, Leach proudly recalled, 'was so generous as to call The Forum "the barometer of American intelligence"'" (175-77). (182-83)

    Kvam continues:

    "Known as the 'magazine of controversy' in the 1920's, The Forum directed its appeal to what editor Leach felt was the thinking minority in the American populace. The major portion of each monthly issue was devoted to philosophical debates on the most controversial topics of the decade: prohibition, science vs. religion, the race question, sexual freedom, revolutionary trends in the arts, the population explosion, immigration, and the war debt. "Our editorial policy," Leach stated, "was to keep the magazine objective and recognize that there are sometimes more than two sides to any problem. There is seldom a 'yes or no' and often a 'both-and' in public issues, and we usually presented more than just two facets of a contemporary issue. My personal formula for The Forum was that it should 'encourage technological habits of thinking' (My Last Seventy Years, 175-77).

    "Although The Forum of the 1920's could be considered progressive, at least from an intellectual standpoint, its literary standards were decidedly conservative. In judging fiction for publication, 'The Forum demanded,' according to Leach, 'the three unities of plot, characterization, and style prescribed for the short-story of Poe and Hawthorne.' In addition, Leach required that each issue contain 'some humor and some religion' (My Last Seventy Years, 180). Since The Forum debates, advertised as 'high adventures of the mind,' were seldom written in a humorous vein, it was the fiction which was often intended to supply a lighter side to the magazine. It is this combination of intellectual pomposity and critical naiveté in The Forum's editorial policy that Hemingway is parodying in paragraphs three and four of 'Banal Story.'

    "To stimulate interest in the controversies sponsored by The Forum, Leach frequently posed a series of rhetorical questions in his editorial introductions. The following excerpt from the introduction to the March, 1925, issue is a typical example:

    "'What constitutes a good poem? Is it merely a matter of opinion, of individual taste? Or are there standards which must be adhered to? By whom were they established? ... To-day poetry is being written which does not adhere to the standards of the past: is it, then, to be banned? Or if we accept free rhythms and an absence of those conventions which formerly constituted good poetry, do we thereby repudiate the old standards as obsolete and unnecessary?' ("An Introduction by the Editor," The Forum 73 [March 1925])

    "The questions in the middle section of 'Banal Story' parody this stylistic mannerism, and nearly all of them have specific sources in the monthly issues of The Forum published during 1925." (183-84)

    Regarding the final line of this paragraph, see ¶ 5 annotations.

  5. Monteiro suggests that in this paragraph (and in the final line of paragraph four), the character of the story "turns to the promotional flyer for The Forum" in which the magazine

    "promises to bring its readers 'prize short-stories' -- 'warm home-spun, American tales, bits of real life on the open range in crowded tenement or comfortable home, and all with a healthy undercurrent of humor' ...

    "The flier has more. Momentous questions will be addressed: the growing world population, the threat scientific knowledge poses for believers, the gum choppers in the Yucatan jungles. ... I have not found any such flier promoting The Forum for 1925, but an examination of the contents of the magazine for that year shows that Hemingway has real targets in mind." (142-43)

    Although Smith hints at its existence as well (110), Monteiro links many of the story's Forum elements with this, as of yet, nonexistent flier (see ¶ 19 annotations). As such, it seems strange that he writes "the contents of the magazine for [1925 show] that Hemingway has real targets in mind." I agree with this statement, as do other critics referenced throughout these annotations. But rather than relying on the absent flier, they do a responsible job of linking the story's references with The Forum magazine. Furthermore, assuming a promotional flier ever existed, Monteiro overlooks certain contents of The Forum itself.

    In 1924, for example, The Forum sponsored a short story contest that was first mentioned in the February 1924 issue and advertised on the last page of the September 1924 issue. The Forum then published the winning story (Jefferson Mosley's "The Secret at the Crossroads," The Forum 72 [November 1925]: 577-92) in the November 1924 issue. Therefore, based on the fact that that other references can be traced directly to 1924-25 issues of The Forum, Hemingway likely didn't need a phantom bulletin to compose this section of "Banal Story." The Forum itself could have easily provided the sources.

  6. Kvam identifies these questions from Leach's introductions as relevant to those in this paragraph:

    (1) May, 1925: "The Forum professes to discuss in the coming years not only the mechanical means proposed to check war, but the substitutes that must be discovered for war if it is to be eliminated as a perennial purger of the human race. ... If the Japanese are not to be decimated by war, where will they find a place under the sun?"

    (2) September, 1925: "How shall war be abolished? Can war be abolished? Ever? in our time? How can wars be made safer, -- not for the individual obviously, -- but for mankind" (The Forum 74 [September 1925])? (184)

    Furthermore, the concern for "[o]ur children's children" might have also been inspired by the articles about child labor printed in the January 1925 edition of The Forum, namely, Willaim E. Gonzales, "An Unnecessary Amendment" (The Forum 73 [January 1925]: 21-27) and Owen Reed Lovejoy, "Why a Child Labor Amendment?" (The Forum 73 [January 1925]: 13-21).

  7. Kvam claims this question "was a familiar subject in The Forum" as part of a larger discussion on "shifting populations on an overcrowded globe" (184). He writes:

    "In the introduction to the May issue of 1925 Leach asked, 'Can the waste places of central Australia and the Canadian arctic and the wet jungles of the Amazon be inhabited?' and 'Will scientific agriculture and diet and housing make more room?'" (The Forum 73 [May 1925]) (184)

    Kvam also makes the point that "Canada and Canadians were favorite topics of the editor's" and gives a quotation -- that might be read as excessively amative -- from Leach's autobiography to support this claim:

    "'Canada, dear Canada! My Canadian friends occupy a place in my affections beside the Scandinavian. The average Canadian is clear-headed, direct, objective, practical, and helpful.' Turning to economic development, Leach added, 'The Canadian dollar has a way of becoming more valuable than even the American dollar. Canada is today the Promised Land'" (My Last Seventy Years 136). (190-91 n11)

  8. Kvam suggests that the first line of this paragraph "refers to another major concern of Forum contributors during 1925" (184). (See Kvam 191 n12 for a list of example articles from The Forum that support his claim.) Kvam continues:

    "In introducing a series of articles under the heading 'Evolution and Daily Living' in the February issue, Leach wrote, 'Science has of late been going the way of the agnostic and mechanist, forgetful of the mind, let alone the soul. ... Some theologians, on the other hand, have made an equally sorry mess of it by blindfolding their eyes to science. The time has come for a reconciliation ... ' (The Forum 73 [February 1925]). Two months later (April, 1925), Leach stated, 'In bringing together the views of future-minded scientists and religious thinkers, The Forum is trying to plumb the depths of a spiritual reawakening that may help to fuse into effective meaning the chaotic mass of facts with which modern research has overwhelmed us' (The Forum 73 [April 1925]). (184)

    Yannella suggests that the second part of this paragraph

    "draws on the subject of a new Forum series discussing the topic, 'What is Civilization?' In the first entry, introducing India's answer to the question, Leach writes, 'In this age of vast material progress, too many of us are prone to limit our definition of civilization by the very prejudices born of our own particular type of culture' (The Forum 77 [January 1925]: 1). He goes on to add, with great banality, that all civilizations have had something to give to the 'brilliant kaleidoscope of history' ("An Introduction by the Editor," The Forum 78 [January 1925]). (177)

    Kvam supports this interpretation as well, writing that the second sentence of this paragraph

    "echoes Leach's introduction to a series of anthropology studies under the general heading 'What is Civilization?' which The Forum initiated in January, 1925: 'The Editor is setting out upon the impossible adventure of discovering civilization. He has been told that twentieth century America, for all its radio and its bull markets, is not the be-all, nor the end-all of human life. Is it possible that men have already known better ways of living in the past and that we their descendents have recklessly obliterated the highroads they have built to happiness' (The Forum 73 [January 1925])? (184-85)

  9. See ¶ 1 annotations.
  10. Kvam argues

    "[t]here are at least three sources in The Forum of August, 1925. Leach explained that 'the cover design of The Forum, in use for eight months, was drawn by Alfred C. Bossom from old Mayan Indian motifs.' The August issue contained an explanation of the design by Herbert J. Spinden (The Forum 74 [August 1925

  11. Most likely, "Joyce" refers to Hemingway's contemporary James Joyce (1882-1941) who is the author of such cornerstone works of Modernism as Ulysses (1922) and Finnegans Wake (1939).

    President [Calvin] Coolidge was the 30th President of the United States. He took over the presidency upon the death of Warren G. Harding, serving from 1921-23. Coolidge then served one term of his own from 1923-29. Nicknamed "Silent Cal," Coolidge famously terse reply to those who questioned him about running for a second term in office was "I do not choose to run for President in 1928." Monteiro references an article in The Forum titled "Coolidge Versus Davis" (The Forum 73 [February 1925]) that might very well be the source of the reference to Coolidge (143). The advertisement for the fulsome Horace Green biography about "Silent Cal" that appeared in the July 1929 issue of The Forum is also a possible source for the reference (The Forum 72 [July 1924]: 124).

    Jack Britton (1885-1962), whose birth name was William J. Breslin, was an American welterweight boxer who fought from 1908-30. His final record was 104-27-21. Perhaps his most famous career highlight was his rivalry with the British welterweight Ted "Kid" Lewis (1894-1970). They fought more than twenty bouts, trading the World Welterweight title back and forth during the years 1915-21. Monteiro reminds us that Britton "provided Hemingway with a subject for his boxing story 'Fifty Grand'" (143).

    Dr. Henry Van Dyke (1852-1933) was a Princeton University professor, poet, diplomat, and member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Kvam notes that The Forum "advertised [Van Dyke] as 'philosopher, poet, essayist, spiritual teacher, and master teller of tales'" (The Forum 74 [October 1925]: xiii) (185). Along with his arguments for modernized, liberal Presbyterianism, Van Dyke is perhaps most remembered for commenting in Time magazine (December 8, 1930) that the awarding of the Nobel Prize in Literature to Sinclair Lewis (1885-1951) in 1930 was a "backhanded compliment" to America. In turn, Lewis remarked in his Nobel Lecture "The American Fear of Literature" (delivered December 12, 1930 in Stockholm) that "Our American professors like their literature clear and cold and pure and very dead" (24 June 2003. Nobelprize.org/Alfred Nobel Foundation. http://nobelprize.org/literature/laureates/1930/lewis-lecture.html [accessed 5 May 2011]): a comment some have seen as a direct strike against Van Dyke. The aftermath of this repartee was a series of further verbal jabs. Taken from Time (December 22, 1930), these follow and have been silently emended to correct various obvious accidentals:

    "At Princeton, N. J., Dr. Van Dyke observed: 'Who would be so unkind as to interrupt the bubbling joy of the author of Elmer Gantry in receiving the Nobel Prize?' Prizeman Lewis had hoped that Dr. Van Dyke would not 'demand the landing of U.S. Marines at Stockholm to protect American literary rights.' Princeton's patriarch rejoined: 'Why send the marines to Stockholm to interfere with the Babbitt? Just tell it to them.'

    "'So far from rejecting their Main Streets as Mr. Lewis urged,' snapped the New York Herald Tribune, 'most Americans have become rather proud of them, much prouder, we are bound to say, than they can feel of Mr. Lewis in his hour of awful nakedness at Stockholm. ... Babbitts ... continue to inherit the earth.'"

    Young Stribling (1904-33) was an American heavyweight boxer who fought from 1922 until his death in 1933 at 28 in a motorcycle crash. His final record was 221-12-14; and though he never held a title, James Corbett (1866-1933), the Heavyweight Champion of the World from 1892-97, was impressed by Stribling's feints and called him "the best heavyweight fighter for his pounds that ever lived."

    Kvam identifies the source of the line "Do we want big men -- or do we want them cultured?" as "the title of a Forum article [by Laird S. Goldsborough], 'Big Men -- Or Cultured?'" (The Forum 73 [February 1925]: 209-14) (185). This was an article by a "Yale student voicing a protest against the spirit of 'be a big man or bust,' which he felt had invaded the Yale campus" (185).

    Monteiro substantiates this argument by referencing

    "the earnest piece written by 'an observant student at Yale,' 'Big Men -- or Cultured?' which 'voices a protest against the spirit of "be a big man or bust" that its author believes works against the university's true purpose, which is to serve as a retreat where the student can acquire culture for its own sake and not for some practical purpose or ulterior reason ... Indeed, no matter what his intended college ... , it can do no harm for a prospective undergraduate to consider whether he would rather be a Big Man at twenty-two, or a well-rounded, possibly great man a forty'" (The Forum 73 [February 1925]: 209, 214). (143)

    The concern for college students expressed in this paragraph might also have been inspired by Allan Armstrong Hunter's article "The Stirring of Youth" (The Forum 72 [December 1924]: 787-93).

  12. Soundings (1925) was a best selling novel by Arthur Hamilton Gibbs (1888-1964). According to Kvam, it was "serialized in The Forum from October of 1924 through April of 1925" (185). Nancy Hawthorne is the main character of the novel which traces her development and the problems she faces as a "girl of eighteen."

    Yannella describes the novel and its connection to "Banal Story" thusly:

    "The actual sense of this incredible potboiler is suggested by the summary which precedes the January [1925 installment of the novel]:

    "'Nancy Hawthorne, a charming young English girl, has been spending a year of freedom in Paris, -- living the life of a bachelor girl, sharing a studio with her wealthy American friend, Cornelia Evans. During the year Cornelia's brother, Lloyd, and his room-mate at Oxford, Bob Whittaker, have come over to Paris to spend a fortnight with the girls. Nancy Hawthorne has felt herself attached to Bob. But she is not sure of herself. Her single previous contact with sex has been only an incident; a boy, "Curly", in the little village of Brimble, England, where she has lived with her artist father (her mother died giving birth to her), kissed her one night, but she felt no reciprocal emotion.' (The Forum 77 [January 1925]: 116)

    "And so forth. The rest is just as hackneyed, just as predictable. It was precisely this sort of thing made to offend a writer trying to produce serious fiction."

    Kvam offers a similar assessment:

    "Nancy Hawthorne, the heroine [of Soundings] is an eighteen-year-old English girl whose mother died at her birth, and whose father attempts to raise her alone in the small village of Brimble. One night, Curly, a village boy, kisses Nancy and she becomes restless, bringing "both father and daughter to the tardy realization that she is grown up" (Gibbs, "Soundings," The Forum 72 [December 1924]: 838). As a result, Nancy's father decides to send her off to the Continent alone, to make the 'Soundings' of her life for herself. The novel, as one might suspect, is mawkishly sentimental. Nancy's hero is a major in the United States Army, who after 'strafing the Huns' returns to her to live happily ever after, and the virtuous, strong-minded girl is rewarded with marriage and children. Soundings is an example of the fiction which The Forum advertised as "bits of real life." (186)

    Monteiro makes similar points about the novel:

    "The target [in paragraph fourteen] is the motherless English heroine of Arthur Hamilton Gibbs's Soundings, a novel serialized in seven installments in The Forum beginning in the October 1924 issue and running through April 1925, with a nod in the direction of Hemingway's own young heroine in 'Up in Michigan,' a story that would have been unpublishable in The Forum (or anywhere else for that matter, as Hemingway had discovered). The first installment of Gibbs's now deservedly forgotten piece of fiction had carried an epigraph: 'Life is an uncharted ocean. The cautious mariner must take many soundings ere he conduct his barque to port in safety' (The Forum 72 [October 1924]: 433). (143-44)

  13. All text sections marked to indicate the 1927 Men without Womenversion of "Banal Story" ( { Banal Story } ) suggest a heavy editorial hand, especially with regards to the substantives found in paragraphs fourteen, sixteen, eighteen (ie, the paragraph break), and twenty. These changes are probably not Hemingway's. By 1927, when Hemingway and Maxwell Perkins (1884-1947) were beginning to gather materials for Men without Women, the former seems "to have lost interest" in "Banal Story" (Smith 111). Hemingway, in fact, wrote "that he had forgotten it" (Smith 111) in a letter to Maxwell Perkins:

    "I have another [story] called A Banal Story which appeared in the Little Review and which I had forgotten and have not yet gotten a copy of -- (have written) but remember [American literary critic] Edmund Wilson [1895-1972] writing that he liked it very much." ("To Maxwell Perkins," 4 May 1927, Ernest Hemingway: Selected Letters, 1917-1961 [Ed. Carlos Baker. New York: Scribner's/MacMillan, 1989], 251])

    Later in May 1927, Hemingway again wrote to Perkins, deferring the responsibility of finding a copy of the story to the editor:

    "I didn't get a copy of the Little Review with the Banal Story in it -- as I recall it wasn't much but I remember Edmund Wilson writing that he liked it so it might be worth getting hold of in N.Y. It was the number of the L.R. which came out last summer." ("To Maxwell Perkins," 27 May 1927, Ernest Hemingway: Selected Letters, 1917-1961, 251).

    Indeed, it was probably Perkins who tracked down a copy of the story for inclusion in Men without Women. In June 1927, Perkins wrote to Hemingway that "I am trying to find the Little Review story" ("To Ernest Hemingway," 8 June 1927, The Sons of Maxwell Perkins: The Letters of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Thomas Wolfe, and Their Editor [Ed. Matthew J. Bruccoli with Judith S. Baughman. Columbia, SC: U of South Carolina P, 2004], 76), and he must have done so soon after since the collection was published in October 1927. Thus, because of Hemingway's muted concern regarding the story and Perkins' efforts (combined with his general reputation as a heavy-handed editor), I think these marks should be considered Perkins'.

    This has real ramifications for the story in general and the nature of the authorship of this version of the story since it has been accepted as the standard version, having been reprinted in the major collections of Hemingway's short fiction: The Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1953), The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway: Finca Vigía Edition (New York: Scribner, 1987), and its derivative The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway (New York: Scribner, 1998). Unlike the emendations of the accidentals in the Men without Women version of the story, the emendations made in paragraphs fourteen, sixteen, eighteen, and twenty are substantive.

    Making "Have tramps codes of conduct? Send your mind adventuring" into its own new paragraph after paragraph seventeen seems the least egregious substantive change made to the Men without Women version of the story. Still, though, the change does visually alter the story. But this might be for the better as the addition of yet another paragraph further fragments the first section of the work.

    The substantive additions to paragraphs fourteen, sixteen, and twenty, though, are much more consequential. The addition of "He lay down the booklet" in paragraph twenty brings the unnamed narrator back into focus when he was perhaps meant to fade away as the story progresses. In this way, the line re-personalizes the story since without this addition (and the re-entrance of the protagonist), the first section of the story, as it exists in manuscript form and in the Little Review, becomes a sort of abstracted collage of the character's thoughts and lines from The Forum.

    The addition of "It was a splendid booklet" to paragraph fourteen puts what seems to be a sarcastic speed bump between the preceding and following passages; and because of it, readers are no longer able to transition smoothly or fluidly connect the clearly complementary paragraphs thirteen and fifteen.

    Finally, the addition of "Did he have a fourth dimension?" to paragraph sixteen makes little sense? Not only is the "he" ambiguous (is it self-reflexive on the part of the protagonist, to whom does it refer, is it perhaps supposed to read "she," &tc.), in the context of the paragraph it seems awkward and misplaced. Perhaps if Perkins had made it its own paragraph, it would add to the fragmentation more effectively. As it is, though, the line makes the paragraph seem awkward and poorly constructed (which might, of course, be the point).

    Perhaps this is much ado about nothing; Hemingway probably would have protested if he had a problem with what seem to be Perkins' changes. But if nothing else, it is important to consider that "Banal Story" (at least in parts) is a collaborative work. This further fragments the first section of the story since the authorship is quite unstable and shared between Perkins, Hemingway, Leach, The Forum writers. Unlike the firmly solid authorship and narrative voice of the second part of the story, in the first section of "Banal Story" Hemingway is less "author" in the sense of originary creation and more "arranger" in the sense of mosaicist or assemblagist. It seems Perkins took his turn with this too.

  14. (St.) Joan of Arc -- a.k.a., Joan Arc, Jeanne d'Arc, "la Pucelle" ("the Maid") -- (1412-31) was a French peasant woman who led French forces against the English in several campaigns that were part of the larger Hundred Years War (1337-1453). As the story approximates, St. Joan led her campaigns during 1429 which was her seventeenth year.

    Monteiro suggests that her presencein the story is a result of an advertisement in The Forum "plugging Mark Twain's book on the subject" (The Forum 73 [February 1925]) (144).

    George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) was a celebrated, Nobel Prize winning (1925) Irish writer who began writing plays in his forties. Thus, his inclusion here can perhaps be explained via his strongly nationalistic, anti-British play Saint Joan (1923). Monteiro adds that there was an article published in The Forum titled "Ulysses and Einstein: A Dialogue between George Bernard Shaw and Archibald Henderson" (The Forum 72 [October 1924]) in which Shaw "seems not to recognize the names of any of the contemporary American writers mentioned to him, boasting 'I never read any books, -- at least hardly any; but I have no prejudice against American books'" (455) (144).

    Elizabeth Griscom "Betsy" Ross (1752-1836) was a Philadelphia seamstress-upholsterer whose fame restson the (perhaps apocryphal) distinction that she made the first American flag in 1776 at the behest of George Washington and the Continental Congress. Since she would have been 24 in 1776,the connection to Nancy Hawthorne and St. Joan is a bit unclear; her connection to G.B. Shaw is perhaps even more so. Thus, her presence seems to either feed the fragmentation aspect of the first section of the story or add a third figure to the nationalist mosaic occupied by St. Joan and Shaw.

  15. Kvam notes that the question about Puritan history "possibly relates to an article [by Roy Dibble] "In the Wicked Old Puritan Days," published in The Forum American Series in April of 1926" (The Forum 75 [April 1926]: 518-24). This might not be correct, though, since the article he mentions was published over a year after Hemingway wrote "Banal Story," when the story was "[lying] in the Little Review's offices" (Smith 111).

    Pocahontas, or Matoaka, (1595?-1617) was an Algonquian Indian princess and daughter of Powhatan, the powerful chief of that tribe. She is perhaps most famous for negotiating relations between natives and settlers and for saving the life of English Captain John Smith (1580?-1631). In 1613, Captain Samuel Argall (1572?-1626?) captured her and took her to Jamestown, Virginia in order to better negotiate the release of English prisoners held by Powhatan. In Jamestown, she was converted to Christianity and baptized "Rebecca." In April of 1614, she married John Rolfe (1585–1622) and went to England with him in 1616 where she was received with great acclaim and curiosity. About to return to America in 1617, she fell ill and died in Gravesend, England where she is buried.

    Kvam suggests that the line "Did he have a fourth dimension?" "could refer to Leach's introductory statement in the August, 1925, issue. Here the editor wrote 'that civilization is a multiplication of so many factors that it will be differently defined by every mind that attempts an analysis. It belongs to the 'fourth dimension' terms that baffle the average understanding'" (The Forum 74 [August 1925]) (186).

    Regarding the addition of "Did he have a fourth dimension?" to the Men without Women version of "Banal Story," see ¶ 14 annotations.

  16. Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) was one of the most important visual artists of the twentieth century who helped develop Cubism in painting but also composed assemblages, ceramics, and bronze sculptures among many other media. A Spaniard by birth, he was (like Hemingway) a central figure in the expatriate community of 1920s Paris.

    Kvam traces the line "Are modern paintings -- and poetry -- Art? Yes and No. Take Picasso" to:

    "specific issues of The Forum. In June, 1925, Leach wrote, 'Music has long claimed the right to be abstract as well as to imitate nature; but can painting and sculpture also break away altogether from illustrating things as they are, and claim to be pure art' (The Forum 73 [June 1925])? Following, was a debate entitled 'Is Cubism Pure Art?' Walter Pack contributed the first article, 'Picasso's Achievement' (The Forum 73 [June 1925]: 760-75), and Alfred Churchill countered with 'Picasso's Failure' (Forum 73 [June 1925]: 776-83). The topic was introduced again at the end of the July, 1925, issue when Leach reprinted letters from the readers under the title, 'Pure Art? Or "Pure Nonsense"' (Forum 74 [July 1925]: 146). (186-87)

    Monteiro substantiates Kvam's argument (144), adding that "[t]he debate, with spirited reactions from, among others, Frank Jewett Mather, Jr. and John Sloan, continued in the letters columns of the issues for July (146-50) and August (296-98)" (147 n12).

    Furthermore, Yannella suggests the following:

    "[t]he manifesto of The Forum for the year 1925 became one of the phrases taken up in 'Banal Story'; '"Send your mind adventuring!" is the invitation of The Forum for the new year, the fortieth of its life as a magazine," ("An Introduction by the Editor,' The Forum 77 [January 1925]) is parodied by Hemingway in 'Are Modern paintings -- and poetry -- Art. Yes and No. Take Picasso. Have tramps codes of conduct? Send your mind adventuring.' (177)

    Regarding the line "Have tramps codes of conduct?," Monteiro comments that Hemingway is most likely targeting:

    "an article entitled 'Tramps and Hoboes' [by 'Towne Nylander' (147 n13)], which a preliminary note describes: 'Living and moving among us, in this settled and civilized era, is a nomadic population of over a hundred thousand men and boys, -- our tramps and hoboes. Their faults and their virtues, -- for they have virtues, even if their behavior is essentially anti-social, -- and their picturesque language and habits are depicted in this article by a sympathetic observer' (The Forum 73 [August 1925]: 227). (144)

    Kvam also argues that the line "likely refers to the article 'Tramps and Hoboes,' by Towne Nylander, published in The Forum in August of 1925 (The Forum 74 [August 1925]: 227-37).

    Finally, as regards the paragraph as a whole, Kvam notes that

    "'Send your mind adventuring' ... was one of Leach's favorite mottoes. In the December issue of 1924, for example, Leach wrote, "Send your mind adventuring! is the invitation of the December Forum ... " Introducing an article by Vilhjalmur Stefannon, he added, 'Stefansson carries the mind adventuring to the Orient by short cuts through the air across the Arctic ice. And the adventure of the mind is continued in other articles ... ' (The Forum 72 [December 1924]). In the following issue, January, 1925 Leach announced: 'Send your mind adventuring! is the invitation of The Forum for the new year, the fortieth of its life as a magazine' (The Forum 73 [January 1925]).

  17. For more on the "Have tramps codes of conduct? Send your mind adventuring" carriage return, which appears in the Men without Women version of "Banal Story," see ¶ 14 annotations.
  18. Kvam suggests that this paragraph "parallels the introduction of a new serial to appear in The Forum of May, 1925: 'Readers of The Forum have learned to expect a serial of wit and charm, rich in situations, brilliant in character development, challenging in thought'" (The Forum 73 [May 1925]) (187). And as he does with the elements in paragraph five, once again Monteiro cavalierly tries to link this line with The Forum's phantom promotional flier (144).
  19. Kvam notes that this paragraph "echoes Leach's statement in the December, 1924, issue: 'Other journals may follow other high adventures, -- sex, success, travel -- but for The Forum we modestly announce the high adventures of the mind'" (The Forum 72 [December 1924]) (187). Yannella adds that Leach, the editor of The Forum, "persistently refers to [the emphasis of the magazine as] 'the romance of the unusual'" (178).

    Regarding the addition of "He lay down the booklet" in the Men without Women version of "Banal Story," see ¶ 14 annotations.

  20. Manuel Garcia Maera (?-1924) was a promising young matador who fell ill with and succumbed to pneumonia "in the barrio of Triana ... on 11 December 1924" (Yannella 176). Wayne Kvam has called Maera Hemingway's "great Spanish culture-hero" (181), and the matador also appears in the vignettes that precede chapters thirteen and fourteen (and perhaps nine, ten, and eleven) of In Our Time (1925); in the short story "The Undefeated" (Men without Women, 1927); and in Hemingway's nonfiction work Death in the Afternoon (1932). Several of these works imply that Maera dies in the ring, not from pneumonia (Hemingway either mistakes pneumonia for tuberculosis or creatively emends pneumonia for tuberculosis in the passage below) as is historically accurate. Monteiro notes:

    "[i]n the final year of his life Maera had 'hoped for death in the ring,' writes Hemingway admiringly, "but he would not cheat by looking for it" (Death in the Afternoon. New York: Scribner's, 1932, 82). As a matter of fact, Hemingway had himself already given Maera the very death he wanted. In the sixteenth vignette of in our time, published in the spring of 1924 (and therefore well before Maera's death in Seville in December 1924), Hemingway had imagined the death in the bullring that would elude Maera." (146)

    Monteiro continues:

    "[i]n Death in the Afternoon (1932) Hemingway would pay his final tribute to Maera: "He was generous, humorous, proud, bitter, foul-mouthed and a great drinker. He neither sucked after intellectuals nor married money. He loved to kill bulls and lived with such passion and enjoyment although the last six months of his life he was very bitter. He knew he had tuberculosis and took absolutely no care of himself; having no fear of death he preferred to burn out, not as an act of bravado, but from choice" (82-83)." (145)

    For more on the interplay between the historical Maera and the fictionalized Maera in Hemingway's fiction and nonfiction, see Smith 104-05.

    Andalucia, or Andalusia, is one of the seventeen autonomous communities of Spain. It is located in southern Spain along the Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts. The area is noted for its Moorish influence, and its capital is Seville.

    Joselito (1895-1920), or Gallito ("little rooster"), was born José Gómez Ortega and was one of the most important matadors in the history of the sport. A prodigy, he began touring and bullfighting at the age of thirteen with a child bullfighting group named "Niños Sevillanos." He had a notable rivalry with Juan Belmonte (1892-1962) for six years (1914-1920) which are often referred to as the Golden Age of Bullfighting. In the spring of 1920 at Talavera de la Reina, he was fatally gored by a bull.

Citation: Melton, Quimby. 20 April 2014. "The All Text." "Banal Story": A Hypermedia Critical Edition. SCRIPTjr.nl. http://scriptjr.nl/articles/banal-story/the-all-text (accessed [PST / -8:00]).

Updated: April 20, 2014 at 12:20 pm (PST / -8:00)

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