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Wu Ting
How would you interpret the word ‘picturesque’ in the context? How would you interpret the word ‘picturesque’ in the sentence ‘Something picturesque’? Thanks. It’s from A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway. the context: "It's a silly front," she said. "But it's very beautiful. Are they going to have an offensive?" "Yes." "Have you done nursing long?" "Since the end of 'fifteen. I started when he did. I remember having a silly idea he might come to the hospital where I was. With a sabre cut, I suppose, and a bandage around his head. Or shot through the shoulder. Something picturesque." "This is the picturesque front," I said. "Yes," she said. "People can't realize what France is like. If they did, it couldn't all go on. He didn't have a sabre cut. They blew him all to bits." I didn't say anything.
Jan 15, 2016 12:15 PM
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She romanticized what he would look like, wounded, but cleaned up with a bandage wrapped around his injury, not the filthy bloody mess that he actually was, she had a picturesque image of the results of war, not a realistic image.
January 15, 2016
As Ben notes, "picturesque" is meant ironically. I can't swear to it, but when I read the phrase "With a sabre cut, I suppose, and a bandage around his head.... Something picturesque," the first thing that flashed through my mind was an iconic American painting, "The Spirit of '76." I had to look up the artist's name, Archibald Willard. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/7/7b/Sprit_of_%2776.2.jpeg/570px-Sprit_of_%2776.2.jpeg The soldier at the right, playing the fife, has a bandage around his head with a small red stain on it. Obviously he is wounded. Equally obviously, it is not a bad wound--it doesn't interfere with him marching and playing the fife. That would be a very literal example of a "picturesque" wound! It doesn't exactly look good, but you are supposed to feel good about the bravery, grit, and patriotism of the wounded soldier who is showing the "Spirit of '76"--that is to say, the courage that enabled Americans to fight the American Revolutionary War in 1776, against the better-trained and better-equipped British army.
January 15, 2016
Since you asked about "interpretation", let's interpret. 1. Literal definition of "picturesque" Oxford Dictionaries: "(Of a place or building) visually attractive, especially in a quaint or charming way". 2. Her frame of mind Disillusionment. She realises that "they blew him all to bits." This is vastly different from her earlier romanticised notion of war: "a wounded soldier appearing with a minor wound to re-join by coincidence his girlfriend." She previously had a fairy tale (or propaganda) notion of war. 3. What Hemingway wants to say War blows everyone up into pieces, mentally, psychologically and physically. 4. Frederic's (the male character in this dialogue) frame of mind Cynical. He teases her naivete: "This is the picturesque front." Of course no front in a war is in fact picturesque. He says this sarcastically. 5. Other things to note a. The author paves the way for the development of the relationship between Frederic and Catherine (the girl speaking here) by telling us about their frame of mind. b. When later on you read about Frederic being wounded, and Catherine nursing him, you will see this dialogue as a harbinger. c. This dialogue is an indictment against war. d. The contrast between "picturesque" and "blowing to bits" is an indictment against all who idealise war - politicians, movie producers, writers, journalists, ordinary people, everyone. e. Read the First World War poets to understand more the journey from war euphoria to the utmost abhorrence, via profound disillusionment and horror. f. First World War literature is a complete subject in itself in English Literature. g. We are not only talking about WWI, but all wars. h. The very word "picturesque" here, charged with irony, is supposed to carry, and evoke, the full weight of everything I wrote above in the mind of the informed and intelligent reader. So that was a bit of an interpretation for you.
January 15, 2016
Picturesque means visually pleasant and charming, in this context she imagined coming across to him in a picturesque front, like classical novel/movie like front and small but obviously caused by war type of scars. Picturesque means the ideal visually pleasant image for almost every concept.
January 15, 2016
1) When I said "I can't swear to it," what I mean is that I can't swear that _Hemingway_ was thinking of this particular picture. 2) If the URL doesn't work for you, try; http://tinyurl.com/zso739c
January 15, 2016
Wu Ting
Language Skills
Chinese (Mandarin), English, French
Learning Language
English