AMF Question #21 ~ Limiters of Happiness

by Ernest Hemingway

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AMF Question #21 ~ Limiters of Happiness

Unread postby Liz » Thu Nov 06, 2008 11:30 am

From the first page of the chapter entitled A False Spring.

“When spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest. The only thing that could spoil a day was people and if you could keep from making engagements, each day had no limits. People were always the limiters of happiness except for the very few that were as good as spring itself.

How does this last line manifest itself throughout the book?
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Re: AMF Question #21 ~ Limiters of Happiness

Unread postby Charlene » Thu Nov 06, 2008 2:58 pm

His contacts with people often led to frustration: imposing upon him with idle chatter while he was trying to write; giving him false information; spending money he didn't have, short trips turning into long frustrating ones. I think we can all agree that there are many days you have your day planned when one interaction can change the entire direction of the day and steal valuable hours that you had planned for yourself.

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Re: AMF Question #21 ~ Limiters of Happiness

Unread postby Liz » Thu Nov 06, 2008 3:22 pm

Charlene wrote:His contacts with people often led to frustration: imposing upon him with idle chatter while he was trying to write; giving him false information; spending money he didn't have, short trips turning into long frustrating ones.

Hal comes to mind (but let’s not talk about him just yet). Hem spent a lot of wasted time with Fitz, too—when he didn’t show up and when he would show up drunk and interfere with Hemingway’s work.

And, yes, it seems like most days go that way for me. :banghead: :lol:

Thanks for starting us off, Charlene.
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You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Re: AMF Question #21 ~ Limiters of Happiness

Unread postby Lady Jill » Thu Nov 06, 2008 5:09 pm

“When spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest. The only thing that could spoil a day was people and if you could keep from making engagements, each day had no limits. People were always the limiters of happiness except for the very few that were as good as spring itself.”

How does this last line manifest itself throughout the book?

Yes, I can see where many people "spoiled" Hem's spring, as many do in all our lives, but was he immune to himself? Can we not see where he himself spoiled some of his own days? His drinking? Gambling? How about his death?
Perhaps is it easiest to write about others' ways when we in turn are like that ourselves?

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Re: AMF Question #21 ~ Limiters of Happiness

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Thu Nov 06, 2008 7:10 pm

It's interesting he would write that in hindsight as well. I wonder if his thoughts would have been the same if he had written the book in "real" time so to speak. People can certainly ruin a good spring day but they can make one just as easily.
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Re: AMF Question #21 ~ Limiters of Happiness

Unread postby Liz » Thu Nov 06, 2008 7:39 pm

DeppInTheHeartOfTexas wrote: People can certainly ruin a good spring day but they can make one just as easily.

And even though we may not get the things done that we want to, the interruptions by the people might be more enjoyable than the work itself would have been. I have wondered quite often what the tone of the book would have been and his observations of his contemporaries if he had written it while in Paris.
You can't judge a book by its cover.

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Re: AMF Question #21 ~ Limiters of Happiness

Unread postby nebraska » Thu Nov 06, 2008 11:27 pm

I suppose most of us have limiters of happiness in our daily lives -- or work lives -- I know I do!!!!!! :banghead: Perhaps what is striking about this is that in a memoir written so long after the fact, Hem still has this lingering bitterness. I would hope that as time goes by distance will erase the ugliness. Apparently for him it did not.

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Re: AMF Question #21 ~ Limiters of Happiness

Unread postby gemini » Fri Nov 07, 2008 12:16 am

'People were always the limiters of happiness except for the very few that were as good as spring itself.”


I can relate to what he is saying here. There are some days that you just feel great and want it to stay that way all day. if someone comes along that puts a damper on it, it ruins the feeling. Of course there are those that meeting just make the feeling better. Spring itself does boost my mood, when I lived in the North I always had spring fever. It' s the same here but not as noticeable. For Hemingway the heightened mood probably extended to his writing so he was even more protective of it.
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Re: AMF Question #21 ~ Limiters of Happiness

Unread postby Buster » Fri Nov 07, 2008 10:22 am

Many people see spring as a time of promise, of unfulfilled potential. Rarely does the actual garden turn out like the original vision. If you see people in a similar way, as potentially ""perfect", of course they will limit your happiness.
Hemingway believed in his own potential and perhaps over-estimated his own prowess, and was strongly motivated to prove himself. It would have been easy for him to feel as if others were limiting him - far easier than admitting his own foibles.

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Re: AMF Question #21 ~ Limiters of Happiness

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Fri Nov 07, 2008 11:06 am

Buster, you expressed a thought I had but couldn't exactly put into words. I thought Hemingway's ego was showing a bit in this passage.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!

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Re: AMF Question #21 ~ Limiters of Happiness

Unread postby Liz » Fri Nov 07, 2008 11:59 am

Insightful answers all around! :cool:
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.


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