Caution! Contains spoilers surrounding the ending of the original novel!
What if the famously dismal conclusion to Hemingway's "A Farewell To Arms" was different? What if, instead of shooing nurses out of the room in which his lover had just died in childbirth, Frederic Henry embraced his newborn son on the final page of the novel? Hemingway did, in fact, consider such an ending, and over 40 others, for his now-classic commentary on the tribulations of love and war.
A new edition of the book [Scribner, $27.00, out July 10th] contains these conclusions, which, according to The New York Times, were previously housed in the Ernest Hemingway Collection at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.
Some are even bigger downers: "In the end it is better not even to remember things but I know that."
Some are spiritual: "The thing is that there is nothing you can do about it. It is all right if you believe in God and love God."
Some involve the birth of Henry's son, but still remain faithful to Hemingway's token brusqueness: "...He does not belong in this story. He starts a new one. It is not fair to start a new story at the end of an old one but that is the way it happens. There is no end except death and birth is the only beginning."
And perhaps the most compelling are uncharacteristically romantic: "...Finally I slept; I must have slept because I woke. When I woke the sun was coming in the open window and I smelled the spring morning after the rain and saw the sun on the trees in the courtyard and for that moment it was all the way it had been...".
In addition to these and many other vetoed conclusions, the new edition contains revisions and alternative titles, some cryptic ("As Others Are," "Death once Dead,") others straightforward ("The Italian Experience," "The Sentimental Education of Frederic Henry").
We're pretty sure the final choices were the best. That said, he certainly missed out on a potential Hemingway restaurant chain called "The Italian Experience."