Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Analysis of "Montparnasse" by Ernest Hemingway

Original poem reprinted online here: "Montparnasse" by Ernest Hemingway
More information about the Poet: Ernest Hemingway


Usually with titles like these I wonder if the poem is an homage or a commentary.  But this poem is neither.  Maybe the suicides that happen in the city.  But this poem seems of a more direct way of the juxtaposition between life and death.  Big concepts, simple execution.

"There are never any suicides in the quarter among people one knows / No successful suicides."  So the opening two lines seems jarring because of the focus on suicides; however, the key phrase to look out for is "people one knows" in regards to the lack of suicide.  Here there's a distinction.  The upcoming list seems like the unknown.

"A Chinese boy kills himself and is dead. / (they continue to place his mail in the letter rack at the Dome)"  I'm not too sure what the "dome" refers to, but I do note the usage of the specific ambiguous adjective of "Chinese" and how people just continue to send mail as though he's alive.

"A Norwegian boy kills himself and is dead. / (No one knows where the other Norwegian boy has gone" in this one it seems the focus is on similarities (on top of the racial theme). While this one is more physical based as the Chinese one is more presence based.

"They find a model dead / alone in bed and very dead."  I still think this is humorous a bit.  The reason being that this focuses on an ambiguous figure that is not tied down to race, and the close rhyme and the use of very seems very flippant and passe, and then the parenthetical "(it made almost unbearable trouble for the concierge)" makes even more light of the situation with the focus being the trouble of the concierge and not the one who killed him/herself.

"Sweet oil, the white of eggs, mustard and water, soap suds / and stomach pumps rescue the people one knows."   This list of items is specific as though intimate.  As though the speaker knows what it takes how to save a person -- or maybe what it takes for someone to save the speaker (depending how this poem is looked at)

"Every afternoon the people one knows can be found at the cafe."  Even though this line might disregard the previous lines, it's important to note that the "people one knows" can be found -- is there; meanwhile, those who do not know are unknown -- dead or alive or still around.  Know someone to be rescued, perhaps.

1 comment:

  1. Hello,

    About the Dome : It is a very famous bar / restaurant in Montparnasse Hemingway (among other artists) used to go

    Thanks for your analysis !