The FireVaney's First Letter to the Editor...

To Whom It May Concern:

In the December 3, 2006 issue of the Chicago Tribune Magazine, on page 18, Erla Zwingle, instead of having quoted it, paraphrased a passage from Hemingway's A Farewell To Arms.

As published in her article, the passage reads:

"The world breaks everyone, and afterward many are strong in the broken places. It kills the very good and the very brave and the very gentle impartially. If you are none of those you can be sure it will kill you too, but there will be no special hurry."

As published in the 1949 hardcover edition of A Farewell To Arms, the passage reads:

"The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry." (Chapter 34, pages 258-259.)

My intention is not to come across as being overly punctilious. Nevertheless, the error invites this question: if the Tribune will fail to accurately quote an author's famous words written nearly eighty years ago, how can a reader depend on the Tribune to accurately quote anyone at all?

In the end, it is a matter of standards. Do you want to almost get it right, or do you want to get it right? Which is the job of journalism? It is not as if the publication of A Farewell To Arms is breaking news or a "rush" transcript.

Please note that I have not spent the time to investigate the accuracy of the other quotes in the article. Furthermore, while I have a sincere reverence for what Mr. Hemingway has done for American Literature, I confess that I am by no means an authority on any of his works. And although I continued to read Zwingle's article with a bit more suspicion than I normally reserve for the Chicago Tribune, or for its ancillaries, I still enjoyed it very much. Not only has it inspired me to read more Hemingway, it has also inspired me to read more about his life.

Sincerely,
The FireVaney

(Please click here to read the article in question.)

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