The Garden of Eden by Ernest Hemingway

27th May 2014

The best parts of The Garden of Eden by Ernest Hemingway:

She took her coffee without sugar, and the young man was learning to remember that.

“The whole way here I saw wonderful things to paint and I can’t paint at all and never could. But I know wonderful things to write and I can’t even write a letter that isn’t stupid. I never wanted to be a painter nor a writer until I came to this country. Now it’s just like being hungry all the time and there’s nothing you can ever do about it.”

This was the first writing he had finished since they were married. Finishing is what you have to do, he thought. If you don’t finish, nothing is worth a damn.

She drank the glass off and then held it, looking at it, and David was sure that she was going to throw it in his face. Then she put it down and picked the garlic olive out of it and ate it very carefully and handed David the pit.
“Semi-precious stone,” she said. “Put it in your pocket. I’ll have another one if you’ll make it.”

His father was not vulnerable he knew and, unlike most people he had known, only death could kill him. Finally, he knew what his father had thought and knowing it, he did not put it in the story. He only wrote what his father did and how he felt…

His father, who ran his life more disastrously than any man that he had ever known, gave marvelous advice.

He had lost the capacity of personal suffering, or he thought he had, and only could be hurt truly by what happened to others.

So you must write each day better than you possibly can and use the sorrow that you have now to make you know how the early sorrow came.

“I do like to look at you though and I’d like to hear you talk if you’d ever open your mouths.”
“How do you do,” said David.
“That was quite a good effort,” Catherine said. “I’m very well.”
“Have any new plans?” David asked. He felt as though he were hailing a ship.

“Can’t I read it so I can feel like you do and not just happy because you’re happy like I was your dog?”

There had been too much emotion, too much damage, too much of everything and his changing of allegiance, no matter how sound it had seemed, no matter how it simplified things for him, was a grave and violent thing and this letter compounded the gravity and violence.

They were inside at the bar and the day had come in with them. It was as good as the day before and perhaps better since summer should have been gone and each warm day was an extra thing. We should not waste it, David thought. We should try to make it good and save it if we can.


Vadepeñas – a Spanish Denominación de Origen (DO) for wines located in the province of Ciudad Real in the south of Spain

“the get” – an animal’s offspring

kraal – an enclosure for animals

Ngoma – a type of drum used by Bantu-speaking people of East Africa