AMST 246: Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Faulkner

Lecture 16

 - Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls


Professor Wai Chee Dimock begins her discussion of Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls with an overview of the Spanish Civil War, the historical event at the heart of the novel. She introduces the notion of an “involuntary foreigner” to discuss the fate of Hemingway’s American protagonist Robert Jordan, as well as the Spanish guerillas who are turned into “aliens” within their own country due to their print and technological illiteracies. Professor Dimock concludes by connecting one’s status as an involuntary foreigner to the shape of the future, arguing that these characters have a tenuous claim to a Spain dominated by the Fascists, and to a modernity increasingly dominated by technology.

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Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Faulkner

AMST 246 - Lecture 16 - Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls

Chapter 1: Donne’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls” [00:00:00]

Professor Wai Chee Dimock: Today we’re starting on Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls.  As is often the case with Hemingway, the title comes from a very well known classic, in this case John Donne’s poem, which is included in our edition of For Whom the Bell Tolls.  You guys can read it for on your own. But I just thought that we’ll talk about this together – these famous lines from a very famous poem:

“No man is an island, entire of itself. Each is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea,Europeis the less. Each man’s death diminishes me, for I am involved in mankind. Therefore, send not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.”

A number of issues come up in this poem, justly famous poem, that even though we have separate bodies, Donne’s argument here (and in fact throughout his entire poetic corpus) is that our separate bodies sometimes become optical illusion and also experiential illusion as well. We feel that we’re just one unit, but we are actually tied in so many different ways to other people.  The death of other people would diminish me in the sense that those ties will be cut when those people die.

But also there’s a more disturbing sense that the manner of death of other people is in some sense also a kind of a prelude, and an analogy, and a suggestion of the way that we would die. The bell is tolling for someone else right now, but sooner or later it’s going to toll for myself, for you and me.

Death is central. It’s absolutely central to For Whom the Bell Tolls. It’s not just a general argument about the importance of interconnections. It’s really about our interconnections and death. No other work by Hemingway is so centrally meditating on the phenomenon of dying and what it is to die a good death.  We’ll come back to this.

Chapter 2: Historical Context of the Spanish Civil War [00:02:33]

Today, though, that wouldn’t be the focus. And instead today we’ll be talking mostly about the Spanish Civil War, which is a very important context for this novel. And it’s very important to get some historical facts under our belt.

Basically, the two sides of The Spanish Civil War are the Republicans and the Nationalists. The Republicans are sometimes referred to as the Loyalists. And this phrase is sometimes misleading, because it suggests that maybe the Loyalists are on the right. But this is actually not the case. The Republicans are on the left, but they’re loyal to the legitimately elected government.

The Spanish Republic had an elected government. And so the Loyalists were loyal to that. They were protecting the Spanish Republic. And the reason we know that they are on the left is that they’re backed by Mexico, which is understandable given the Spanish connection. But they were also backed by the Soviet Union So there are lots of references to Russians in this novel, from Russian planes, to Russian cigarettes, to Russians at the Hotel Gaylord– so lots and lots of Russians, a Russian general in the opening pages of the novel. So the Soviet Union was a central presence in his novel. But more than that, the reason that the Spanish Civil War has gone down in history as such an important war is that it was supported by 30,000 international volunteers making up the international brigades, including people from Poland, France, England, and lots of volunteers from the United States. So the United States volunteers were called the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. And then so all this is on the Republican side, on the side of the Spanish Republic.

Opposing that, fighting that, and eventually triumphant in prevailing over them would be the Nationalists.  In this novel, Hemingway does not refer to the Nationalists as the Nationalists. The word never comes up.  He refers to them as Fascists.  The word has such a pejorative ring now that it seems as if he’s condemning them ahead of time. But actually, in the 1930s fascist was just a neutral word. That was the party, the Fascist Party.

So even though now historians would refer to that side as the Nationalist side, in my lectures I’ll be referring to them as Fascists, just because that’s the word that Hemingway uses.  The Fascists were backed byGermanyandItaly.  We see here lots of German planes, Italian planes as well.  The victory of the Fascists led to the dictatorship of General Franco, who would go on to ruleSpainfor many years.  So we know the outcome of that war.  It could be seen as a tragic outcome.

Chapter 3: Low Tech and High Tech War: Robert Capa’s Photographs [00:05:44]

One of the great photographers of the war was Robert Capa.  Fortunately for us, many of his images are now available in the public domain. So this is Robert Capa photographing the Spanish Civil War. This is the most iconic image. It’s 1936 the death of a Loyalist Republican soldier.  Most of Capa’s pictures tend to be about the death of just one person, a kind of a visceral reaction to the death that person.  Kindof blurry as well, because that’s probably how death will feel when it comes to us. It’s that we don’t have a very distinct sensation of that condition when we’re going through it. At least I think that’s the rationale behind it, other than the fact that he was just on site taking the picture right there. Here is another picture by Robert Capa, again 1936, at the very beginning of the war. And these people were just college students. This was University City in Madrid. Most of the people who fought in the Spanish Civil War were civilians. They were just students, lots of women actually. This was a war known for the presence of women fighting. So in many ways, because these were just volunteers, it wasn’t a very high tech war.  Robert Capa had a lot of footage about this very low-tech war.

Basically this is the war that we see in For Whom the Bell Tolls. Just one or two people walking through the mountains, just trudging along, talking to small groups of people.  Local initiative.  And not just in the cities but also in the countryside.  We should remember that in For Whom the Bell Tolls it’s actually behind the lines.  All the characters are behind the enemy lines. One possibility would be to go back to the Spanish Republic, to cross the enemy lines and go back and join with the main forces. But the people that we see in For Whom the Bell Tolls were the guerrillas, who would be in conditions such as these. So this is the kind of the iconic images of just civilians fighting to defend the Spanish Republic.

The reason that it was such a big global event was that it was actually an incredibly high-tech war.  It was a very important link between the First World War and the Second World War. And we know that the alliances in the Spanish Civil War, Germany and Italy, would go on to become the Axis Powers in the Second World War– so an important link between those two great world wars. Itself the Spanish Civil War was a world war of sorts, given the number of international participants.

Tanks were very important. And the Republicans actually used tractors, but the Fascists had real tanks. And we see them, the tanks, in full force. And this is the final image of the triumph of the tanks. The fascists enteringMadridMarch, 1939. And the next month the republic, theSpanishRepublic, surrendered to the Fascists.

We know the outcome very well. It was a very short war.  Because they were defending an elected government, the international sentiment was on the side of the SpanishRepublic. And this is a famous painting by the Spanish painter Joan Miro. But you’ll notice that the language is actually not Spanish, “Aidez Espagne” – in French, because he couldn’t stay in Spainanymore after the outbreak of the war.  He had to flee to France, and this was actually in exhibition in Paris.  That’s why the language was in French. And French will actually come up a little bit in For Whom the Bell Tolls as well– or asFrance.  It’s an interesting side reference that we’ll be talking about next time.

Lots and lots of images of international aid– once again, mostly very nonmilitary looking people were giving aid to do theSpanishRepublic.  These were artists inLondonjust giving medical supplies. But the Americans were there in full force, and this is the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. They’re actually the best equipped volunteers. There were pictures of volunteers from Poland. And they actually looked kind of sad, to begin with, even without the fighting. But the Americans were very well equipped, and they looked very healthy and ready to fight. And they were also very, very young. So it was a very glamorous war, in one sense, because of all young people who were fighting. And women there, as we can see, and in the beginning of the war there was lots of musical entertainment. And it seemed like fun, initially. It quickly stopping being fun, as we can tell from the novel.

Hemingway was there. He was a war correspondent. He was covering the war with the Republicans here and this rare image of him actually holding a gun. He wasn’t supposed to fight.  I don’t think he actually did – still, a gun just in case.

Chapter 4: Voluntary versus Involuntary Associations [00:11:41]

It suggests that one way to think about the novel would be to think about a kind of divide in the novel– a kind of structural principle– in terms of voluntary association versus involuntary association. Voluntary association – the International Brigades, all these people did not have to fight in the war. They all voluntarily put themselves in danger for political reasons, so very much voluntary association. And there’s lots of glory, and honor, and pleasure from that, pride from that.

On the opposite side would be involuntary association. Now we get labeled as foreigners. The Americans get labeled as foreigners. Robert Jordan gets labeled as a foreigner. He’s not even given the dignity of being an American. He’s referred to as the Ingles, the English, so they even get his national identity wrong. But it doesn’t really matter. He’s just one of those foreigners. So foreigner is a kind of involuntary association, a generic type.

And then the ultimate involuntary association would be the company of the dead. It’s a very large company, and very few of us are eager to join them, we just get put in that company.  Going back to Donne, but also going back to pretty much all the text that we’ve been talking about all semester – we’ve been talking about this phenomenon of involuntary association in terms of individual and type – I just want to go back very quickly, to refresh your memory.

In To Have and Have Not, Harry’s involuntary association would be with all the other “have nots.” And there were plenty of them during the Great Depression. That would be an involuntary association for him. But luckily for him, he actually can qualify that involuntary association when he’s mediated by the presence of Marie, when he becomes this very wonderful and long lasting, not perishing, figure in her mind. And when he’s mediated in contrast to Richard Gordon.

In the Fitzgerald stories “Rich Boy” and “Bernice Bobs Her Hair,” we have the involuntary association through type.  The rich boy Anson Hunter, he has as an involuntary association with the title of the story “Rich Boy.” But he deviates so much. I mean, he’s such an extreme example that he’s almost a deviation. And Bernice reverts to a much more ancient type, the Native American.  They all have a kind of qualified involuntary association to the immediate surroundings.

And As I Lay Dying, which we just finished discussing, is Faulkner’s version of To Have and Have Not. And actually there it seems that the concept of “have not” is most tenacious and in many ways victorious at the end, triumphant at the end. In the sense that Darl really is involuntarily confined toJackson, he has an involuntary sojourn in a mental institution.  In many ways Faulkner is the most pessimistic of those three writers.

Chapter 5: Seven-fold Permutation: Involuntary Foreigners [00:15:37]

Today we’ll look at the complicated sevenfold permutations in For Whom the Bell Tolls. We won’t be talking about all of them today. So this pretty much the outline for the next three lectures.

But I just want to give you a sense of what we’re talking about, individuals versus type obviously, voluntary versus involuntary association, and, given the fact that the setting isSpain, foreign versus not foreign.  The question of language brings up the question of literacy and illiteracy. And the relation between the distant home and the on-site environment is going to be very important, because theUnited Statesactually has quite an important presence in this novel.  that’s the relation between theUnited StatesandSpain. And something that we’ve been talking about all the way through, comic versus tragic, and finally, to have and have not.   All of this we’ll be talking about in the next two weeks. But today we’ll concentrate on the concept of involuntary foreigners. And it turns out that there are actually two classes of involuntary foreigners, one completely counterintuitive. We would think that the involuntary foreigners would just be Americans. They are the obvious foreigners. And Hemingway gives us multiple instances of when one could be an involuntary foreigner. But I think that he is an astute enough reader of the future and of the global dimension of the Spanish Civil War to know that the Spanish could also be involuntary “foreigners” in their own country.

This is happening all the time now. Lots and lots of people are involuntary foreigners in their own country. It is one of the most common phenomena of the twenty-first century. And Hemingway is portraying some of that already during the Spanish Civil War, because of print illiteracy and technological illiteracy that, once again, are huge issues right now.

Let’s just start on the American side. We know that Hemingway is actually very ood in being considerate of those of us who don’t know Spanish or who just know a few words in Spanish. When he uses a Spanish word phrase, he would give us the translation almost right away.  We have no trouble understanding the Spanish in the novel. But he does have this interesting stylistic innovation of inflecting the English language in the direction of Spanish.

Chapter 6: Linguistic Alienation for Involuntary Foreigners [00:18:42]

The classic example is the unidiomatic expression, “How are you called?” It is what’s your name. We don’t go around asking people, how are you called, because Spanish is not really the reference point for most of us at any rate, in this country, not yet. But in Spain that’s the form English would take, even in your own head. What you would ask people all the time is, “Como se llama Usted?” “How are you called,” literally translated from that. And it’s a more formal expression. “Tu” is not to someone that you know well. It’s a more formal expression, addressing someone that maybe you’re meeting for the first time, someone who’s older, showing more respect for the person or distance from the person.

What is the effect of this kind of English, not translated into Spanish words but translated into Spanish syntax? It is not the actual translation into Spanish words but translation using the syntactical structure of Spanish. I think that there are many effects, depending on your degree of knowledge of Spanish, really. It could be irritating– I imagine actually– for a Spanish speaker. But I think that for people who actually have a very slight acquaintance with Spanish the effect is the kind of a double alienation. We should take note of the fact that this is unidiomatic English. And we’re struggling to think of the Spanish equivalent for that that would be the origin for the English phrase.

In any case, it makes us aware of how English actually is not translatable word for word into the Spanish. What’s your name cannot be translated word for word into Spanish. So it highlights the non-translatability of English. And the fact that there really are very important cross-cultural barriers, not least of all in language as a cross-cultural barrier. Certain things cannot get across easily. They cannot get across without modification. So Hemingway gives us no illusion that you can fit easily into a different environment. He gives us no illusion that there could be this immediate communion between people from different cultural and linguistic backgrounds.

I think that the effect of this double alienation is also to make us aware of how strange the English language would be sometimes.  every time you know more than one language, you’re aware of how each of those languages is actually quite strange in peculiar instances. So it makes everyone a sort of involuntary foreigner. Even though you’re still at home, really. You’re still a native speaker of one language. The fact that you’re aware of other languages into which your own native language cannot be automatically translated makes you almost a foreigner, a slight foreigner in your own native language. But this is a very mild and really not painful form, I think, of being a foreigner.

Things start getting more painful, quite fast actually, in For Whom the Bell Tolls.  But people still joke about it.  Here is Robert Jordan talking to the Russian general, Golz. I don’t actually know it’s pronounced in Russian. But they were talking about the bridge. We know that Robert is supposed to blow-up the bridge. So they were actually talking business.  Robert Jordan is assuring the Russian general that he knows exactly what to do, that he’s a very good engineer. He is very good with explosives.

This is what Golz says, “ ‘I believe you do.’”– do know how to blow-up the bridge– “ ‘I will not make you any little speech. Let us have a drink. So much talking makes me very thirsty. Comrade Hordan. You have a funny name in Spanish Comrade Hordown. How do you say Golz in Spanish, Comrade General?’ ‘Holze,’ said Golz, grinning, making the sound deep in his throat as though hawking with a bad cold. ‘Hotze,’ he croaked. ‘Comrade Heneral Khorze. If I had known how they pronounce Golz in Spanish I would pick me out a better name before I come to war here.’”

The Spanish “G” and “J” sounds are pronounced as H. So that’s why it’s especially disconcerting when you have the combination of those, as in Comrade General Golz. I can’t even say it now. I’m so confused. It is really totally alienating. Your own name becomes unrecognizable in a foreign language. Most of the time it doesn’t happen. But it just so happens that in this one instance, there really is kind of a double alienation going on for Golz.

What does it mean when your own name is not pronounceable? There’s just no equivalent sound in Spanish. It could be a really innocent and completely innocuous or trivial occurrence. But for something like that, one is almost involuntarily tempted to read more meaning into that. There’s just no Spanish equivalent for my own identity. In that language there’s no room. There’s no place. There’s just no slot that is waiting for me that I can fit in. There’s just no sound that will reproduce a necessary sound in English.

Chapter 7: Robert Jordan’s Place in the Community as an Involuntary Foreigner [00:25:37]

It raises the question of what kind of a place Robert Jordan could have in the Spanish community. If there’s no linguistic, if there’s no phonetic slot for him in the Spanish language, would there be a social slot for him in that Spanish community? Would there be a functional slot for him in that community? He has a very, very well-defined function. He’s there to blow up the bridge. And as long as he sticks to that very limited function. He’s probably OK. There’s room for someone who will blow up bridges and leave.

But the thing is, people can’t actually just confine themselves to that very narrow definition.  It would be unbearable, actually, to be no more than just someone who’s there to blow up the bridge and do nothing else. You can’t just have that very narrow existence. So Robert Jordan has got to have some relations to the people. And once he wanders away from that very straight, very narrow definition things will get problematic. And that’s why there’s so much tension between him and the Spanish.  One other instance of involuntary association and being an involuntary foreigner – and the word “foreigner” is actually used by the Spanish a lot, to insult Robert.

Pablo is the one who’s especially aggressive when it comes to that. “ ‘There was a foreigner with us who made the explosions. ’ Pablo said. ‘Do you know him?’ ‘What was he called?’ ‘I do not remember. It was a very rare name.’ “What did he look like?’ ‘He was fair, as you are, but not as tall with large hands and a broken nose.’ ‘Kashkin,” Robert Jordan said. “That would be Kashkin.” ‘Yes,’ said Pablo. ‘It was a very rare name. Something like that.’ ‘What became of him?’ ‘He is dead since April.’”

A number of things– we actually don’t know if Pablo remembers the name Kashkin or not. For all we know, he might actually be able to remember name very well. They don’t have foreigners every day among them and Kashkin is not such a hard name to remember. He probably knows the name. He’s emphatic about not knowing the name, not being able to recall the name. Even when offered the name, he refuses to repeat the name– “Something like that”– just a generic foreigner. So nothing can be more aggressive indirectly, by way of talking dismissively about Kashkin as a forgettable foreigner. Because he’s just a generic type, he’s just there to make the explosions. So in all these ways, he’s making this forgettable, unimportant, probably not liked foreigner the predecessor for Robert Jordan.

And there’s a kind of an unforeseen consequence of making Kashkin the predecessor for Robert.  Pablo probably doesn’t know that, but Kashkin had in fact died. And we know later on that he had died he had died by killing himself. His job is to blow up bridges or blow up trains. But he’s just terrified of doing it, and so he killed himself, which Robert only knows.

A combination of deliberate aggression from Pablo, in turning the foreigner into a generic type into which both Kashkin and Robert would be inserted. That deliberate aggression from Pablo combined with a circumstance that he probably wouldn’t have known– that Kashkin is dead at this point– all of this made the dead foreigner, not just a foreigner but a dead foreigner, the sort of scripted future for Robert Jordan.

It’s not just that foreigners cannot assimilate into the community. But they also have a tendency to die very soon. That seems to be the forecast for Robert Jordan. And so we don’t know if this forecast will actually become reality. It’s just a possibility at this point. But it’s a possibility that is underscored numerous times actually by other people, every time Kashkin comes up, how he died and the fact that he’s like Robert in many ways– fair haired foreigner– all those things come up. It’s a kind of a structural signature, narrative signature in terms of the punctuation that Hemingway puts into his novel, all those places when we stop and wonder is a similar fate awaiting Robert Jordan, similar to Kashkin.

The company of the dead– I think it’s fair to say– is never very far. It’s always on the horizon. In fact, it’s not even on the horizon. It’s a looming presence in that community. And it’s a looming presence, especially for foreigners in that community.  That’s pretty bad for Americans. We don’t actually see a lot of Americans. We just see one, Robert Jordan.  It’s pretty bad. The signs and omens are not good.

Chapter 8: Print Illiteracy for Involuntary Foreigners [00:31:40]

But it seems that the signs and omens are also not great for the Spanish, either.  We can look at the ways in which they are involuntary foreigners in their own countries. And actually Robert Jordan is also quite aggressive in making sure that the Spanish can sometimes feel like they don’t quite own their own country. They don’t know how things are done in their own country. Robert has a piece of paper to prove his credentials, which is necessary given the fact that no one knows anything about him. So how would people know he’s on their side?  He has pieces of documents to prove that he is, in fact, well credentialed.

“He handed it to the man who opened it, looked at it doubtfully, and turned it in his hands. So he cannot read, Robert Jordan noted. ‘Look at the seal,’ he said. The old man pointed to the seal, and the man with the carbine studied it, turning it in his fingers. ‘What seal is that?’ ‘Have you never seen it?’ ‘No’ ‘There are two,’ said Robert Jordan. ‘One is the SIM, the Service of the Military Intelligence. The other is the General Staff.’ ‘Yes, I’ve seen that seal before, but here no one commands but me,’ the man said solemnly.”

There obviously is a struggle for authority here. It is a shock to us that Pablo– in fact all the people that we see in this novel, all the Spanish – they are all illiterate. And usually we don’t even have to specify it’s print illiteracy. But here it seems especially important to point it out, because they’re very literate in other senses. We know that Anselmo actually speaks a classical Spanish, or Castilian Spanish, which is very pure in this language of literature, of Quevedo.  They are in fact very literate in the sense of having a very, very distinguished literary tradition behind them, but an oral tradition.  They can’t read and write. But obviously in the twentieth century, early in the twentieth century, not to be able to read and write is a tremendous liability. Right here, there’s one strike against all of these Spanish who cannot read their own language in writing. It is Robert, the foreigner, who can actually read Spanish writing, Spanish script.

But there’s another level of print illiteracy. And it goes even beyond language, in the fact that there are two seals on that document. Pablo recognizes only one of the seals. He doesn’t recognize the other one. He doesn’t recognize the other one because he’s not high enough on the military hierarchy to have come across the other seal before. So in many ways, it is Robert’s way of putting him down, showing that he actually has more knowledge of the military infrastructure than Pablo does.  That’s why Pablo’s very sullen, angry response – a completely understandable response– is “No one commands here but me.”

Pablo’s hope—and it is a very interesting hope, that will be tested, and I think to some degree supported in the novel – is that it doesn’t really matter how high up you are on the general military infrastructure. That in many ways, people who actually know a community well would be able to have command of that community. I’m just saying this now as a possibility. But certainly the contest of authority between Pablo and Robert will be played out throughout the entire novel. It’s one of the most important structural features of this novel.

Chapter 9: Technological Illiteracy for Involuntary Foreigners [00:36:02]

Print illiteracy is both very nameable and it basically defines who you are. But it’s kind of a general condition. But there are more specific instances of illiteracy that I would call technological illiteracy. And it has to do with the high-tech warfare that we’ve seen is also a central feature of the Spanish Civil War. He is talking about– And I found myself actually looking for images for lots of military websites to find the images for these weapons.

“ ‘Hell, it’s a Lewis gun, Robert Jordan thought. ‘Do you know anything about a machine gun?’ he asked the old man. ‘Nada,’ said Anselmo. ‘Nothing.’” Here is an instance of Hemingway doing instantaneous translation. “ ‘Nada,’ said Anselmo ‘Nothing.’ ‘And thou?’ to the gypsy. ‘That they fire with such rapidity and become so hot the barracks burn the hand that touches it.’ the gypsy said proudly. ‘Unless they jam, run out of ammunition, or get so hot the melt,’ Robert Jordan said in English. ‘What did you say?’ Anselmo asked him. ‘Nothing,’ Robert Jordan said. ‘I was only looking into the future in English.’”

This is a very aggressive moment on the side of Robert. Every time someone switches into a language they know the other person doesn’t understand it signals intentionality. It signals aggression. But we’ll stay away from that for a moment and just look at the Lewis gun. This was a major innovation, actually during World War I. It started in World War I. It’s a very complicated piece of machinery.  Nobody would be able to have an intuitive command of this weapon.  Here is just one instance of the Lewis gun drill. You have to learn to use the gun.  We can see it’s a very big gun. It’s unwieldy. It’s heavy. And also, you just can’t hold it in your hand. You have to put it on your shoulder and carry it around. It really is a major hindrance to any kind of movement.

Here is an image of how inconvenient, what a pain it is actually to use that gun. It is a weapon that actually creates, brings, produces that facial expression on a person who is trying to use that gun. So it is understandable that even Robert Jordan himself would take note when he notices that is a Lewis gun. That is not just any ordinary weaponry. It’s a special kind of equipment. And it signals a certain level of fighting, a certain scale of warfare, when the Lewis gun is involved. And it’s because it signals a certain scale of fighting, that it’s no longer a strictly local affair, no longer strictly based on local knowledge and intuitive use of small weapons.

It’s because of all these reasons that he would suddenly switch to English, as if just giving himself the license to think out loud to himself in a different language at that point. He doesn’t think very highly of the Lewis gun, even though it’s such an impressive looking, cumbersome weapon. It actually can jam or run out of ammunition and get so hot they melt.  It’s not a great weapon to use, all around. That’s part of the reason he’s saying this in English, so that the Spanish wouldn’t know all these drawbacks of these high-tech weapons. But also that people who use the Lewis gun really have a different relation to the future than people who don’t. It’s similar in the civilian setting in the twenty-first century. People who don’t have a computer at this point, people who’ve never used a computer, have a different relation to the future and to the present than people who do. It really is a sharp dividing line.

In the context of the Spanish Civil War, people who have never seen the Lewis gun, have never handled one, have a different relation to the future. So the gun itself is a kind of a doorkeeper. Various people are admitted in having a viable relation to the future and various people are banned from having a viable relation to the future. Or they have a very diminished and marginal relation to the future.  The gun is the gatekeeper. And the English language, as far as Robert understands it, is lined up with the gun in that way.

The gun is what is on the ground.  There’s another weapon that has wings that is also very important to the Spanish Civil War. And we see the next installment of this technological illiteracy on the side of the Spanish in this exchange.

“–high in the evening sky, three monoplanes in V formation, showing minute and silvery at that height where there still was sun, passing unbelievably quickly across the sky, their motors now throbbing steadily. ‘Ours?’ ‘The seem so,’ Robert Jordan said but knew that at that height you never could be sure. ‘They are Moscows,’ Anselmo said. Robert Jordan could have put the glasses on and been sure instantly, but he preferred not to. It made no difference to him who they were tonight and if it pleased the old man to have them be ours he did not want to take them away. Now as they moved out of sight towards Segovia did not look to be the green and red wing tip low wing Russian conversion of the Boeing P32 that the Spaniards called Moscows. You could not see the colors but the cut was wrong. No. It was a Fascist Patrol coming home.”

Knowledge of airplanes, knowledge that actually I think most of us in this room probably don’t have – but anyway, this is theMoscow. It’s a Boeing P32. And I don’t know what else to say about it, except that it looks kind of primitive. Actually, I did read somewhere that this is the last of that. There were various previous incarnations, the Boeing P29 or something. This is the last, and then Boeing just stopped developing this. This is the last of the line.

If we look at the German planes, the Heinkels,  they seem very effective bombers. They do in fact look much more impressive than the Moscows. You can see that this is a plane – that anyone can see – can do serious damage.  Here is the Italian Fiat and Anselmo is to be forgiven for mistaking the Italian Fiat for the Boeing P32, because actually they are short, and they are kind of clumsy looking.  We can see right away that, even though this is the Spanish Civil War, the Nazi insignia is there. This really is the Second World War intruding into the Spanish Civil War. No question that Hemingway is using the word Fascist in a very deliberate way.  This is a much more effective version of the Spanish bombers. We’ll be talking about all of this and the actual destruction of some of the people in this novel, what the bombers, what the Italian bombers can do to a local population.

Chapter 10: The Tomorrow of the Spanish [00:44:57]

But I just want to go back to that phrase about looking into the future in English. We’ve talked a lot about tomorrows and the future, beginning with The Sound and the Fury. And the way in which the tomorrow of Benjy, and the tomorrow of Jason, and the tomorrow of Quentin are in many ways very pale versions of the present. That it’s not a future that one can look forward to.  Here it raises the question of whether the future can be inhabited by Spanish speakers who don’t know English at all. In this context there’s just no way that the Spanish could– note that this local community, they can’t really read Spanish in writing– there’s almost no way they can read the future in English.

But it also doesn’t feel like this is a future that, even if you were able to read, that you would want to live in, even if you have the ability to read that future, even if that future is writ-large by the Lewis gun and by the planes. That is a very legible future, written on the sky and on the ground. Even though that’s such a legible future and you can read it, it might still not be a future that you would want to move into, not a future that you would want to inhabit.

This is a way in which there’s also a kind of a double alienation going on. The Spanish are banned from that future, because they simply cannot read it. It is illegible to them. Robert Jordan, who can read just fine, is also in many ways, an outsider to that future because it’s not anything that he would like to live in. It’s not a world that he would like to live in.

I just want to give you two final images of what happens to the Spanish historically because of the use of bombers in the Spanish Civil War. This is the best known – It was completely destroyed by Italian bombers,Guernica. And this is the famous Picasso painting, and we can see this is really the response of a low-tech population to high-tech warfare. You’ve just never seen anything like that before.  It is nightmarish. It is surreal in the sense that the world has turned into a different kind of reality. It just has no relation to reality as you know it. And that’s why it is surreal.  That’s why Cubism is, in many ways, a response to the surreal scenarios conjured up by the high-tech weaponry of world wars.

We’ll come back to this and talk more about, basically, the phenomenon of dying both in isolation but also of dying as a result of something that is large and that is coming at you.

[end of transcript]

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