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But although he's on the right side in the Spanish Civil War, he isn't ever committed to it. He dies understanding that that there is no separate peace. Every man's death diminishes him for he is a part of mankind, and so on. But his death is more a personal matter to him than a political one. He doesn't see himself as giving up much of anything and he's reclaiming himself more than he is saving anyone else.

This is wrong--right in parts, but wrong.

"The world is a fine place, and worth the fighting for." Robert Jordan despaired that his actions in the war might be for nothing, but he believed very strongly in the Spanish Civil War. He was so committed to the cause that, when given the option of retreating with the woman he loved, he still chose to participate in the battle that he knew would be fatal and would probably even kill her as well. It's only sheer luck that she didn't get killed, but even then, Jordan was prepared to sacrifice himself, Maria, and all of his comrades for the Civil War, because he believed that it could create a better world, and that was worth dying for.

It's even more tragic that the war was lost, and that battle was lost and/or horribly delayed.


Conrad had to work for a living for a long time before he published. He struggled to support his family. Society wasn't an abstract construction to him. Don't forget that Conrad comes from the Old World (and is writing in his second or third language). There is a different writerly detachment that comes with age and experience, as opposed to the way youth approaches the realization that the world is a fucked-up place.
The young Hemingway has the certainty of youth and his non-expository style let's him pull it off. Hemingway is a child of early 20th century America.


"Blood Diamond" was an infuriatingly good/bad movie. Schematic as hell, with a truly awful performance by Jennifer Connelly in a truly awful Female Journalist role, Leonardo talking funny, and Djimon Being Nobler Than You.

Still, it had its moments and they were mostly all about the extras in the movie. I don't know how or where the movie was filmed, but the look of the minor characters such as the resort bartender or the children soldiers were new and different for a big Hollywood movie. Above all, this was a very morally square movie while playing with Conradian complexities. Which is probably all for the good, because sometimes it's plain, square movies that do end up changing the world and making it a slightly better place.


What kind of person buys a second copy of a book he already owns for the introduction?

A book nerd. C'mon, Lance, you knew the answer to that! :)

I remember being frustrated with that book in college in a class on espionage and dissent. Great class.

Kit Stolz

Why was Hemingway finished as a writer so early in his life?

I think it's because Hemingway's great subject is what we today call post-traumatic stress disorder. It's unavoidable in his early stories. (Edmund Wilson wrote eloquently about "the wound" in his critical study of Hemingway, long before the idea and definition of PTSD was understood.) As Hemingway got older and more successful and further away emotionally from "the wound," the point of his style, which is wound so tightly to keep the inner fear and hatred from exploding in his thoughts and his life, was lost. The style became a mannerism, more mockable than powerful.

Jim Tourtelott

What kind of person buys a second copy of a book he already owns for the introduction?

A grad student. Then he eats mac and cheese with a hot dog cut up in it for flavoring every day for three straight weeks.

Years later after he's left the academy, gone to law school, and made a little money, he buys another one.

At least that's one answer.


Well, thank God, you and I aren't going to toss elbows all the time here. I absolutely loved "Blood Diamond." I watched it twice back-to-back one night, and then again the next morning so I could watch the script work, and it nailed me each time. How this great movie lost out to Martin-Nothing-To-Say-Since-Goodfellas-Scorsese and William-doesn't-know-who-wrote-his-favorite-movie-Monahan is beyond me. (All I could think of in The Departed was how Nicholson was corrupting all the others into doing "The Joker" level overacting. When I turned it off at 45 minutes because I wanted to see all these caricatures dead, I was gratified to later discover that had I watched that waste of innocent film stock to the end, they did all die - hoorat!).

The movie is definitely Conradian. I also thought of it as being intensely religious (and I am not religious and don't like religious movies). It was the story of Saul, who on his way to Tarsus, became Paul.

Throughout the movie, Archer does not want to "do the right thing" and is constantly forced to do so because it is the only "coin of the realm" he has to use in getting Solomon Vandy and Maddy Bowen to do what he wants, so he can find the diamond. Then, when he meets "The Good Man" (I don't know why I can't remember the character's name) and he gets into the discussion of are people evil or good, no, they're just people, it's what they do that makes them one or the other, and the guy says"even a bad man, if he does one good thing, his life may be defined by that" - that is what the story is about. Archer's skills - all learned as a "bad man" are what allow him to save the "good people" throughout the story.

The way this script sucked me in, and introduced me to Characters (instead of the caricatures of "The Departed"), the way the direction grabbed me by the back of my head and rubbed my nose in a reality we all wish didn't exist, I loved this movie. It reminded me of why I got into this stupid business to begin with, and why I fight to try and do something worthwhile. It's the best movie I have seen in the past ten years of studios putting out "widgets."

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