We chose some passages from For Whom the Bell Tolls, to read at our wedding. We considered a few others (Kundera; Garcia-Marquez), but Hemingway’s the one we both love equally, so.
Eric worried about the non-sequitor-ish-ness of it, but I really wanted something from this book specifically because it’s the one Hemingway dedicated to Martha Gellhorn, and because everyone uses the Farewell to Arms passage.
Anyway, our friend Andrea read it perfectly and it all came off well in the end.
He would like to spend some time with Maria. That was the simplest expression of it. He would like to spend a long, long time with her. Why not marry her? Sure, he thought. I will marry her. Spanish girls make wonderful wives.
You were gone when you first saw her. When she first opened her mouth and spoke to you it was there already and you know it. … It hit you then and you know it and so why lie about it? You went all strange inside every time you looked at her and every time she looked at you.
I did not know that I could ever feel what I have felt, he thought. Nor that this could happen to me. I would like to have it for my whole life. You will, the other part of him said. You will. You have it now and that is all your whole life is; now. There is nothing else than now. There is neither yesterday, certainly, nor is there any tomorrow. How old must you be before you know that? There is only now, and if now is only two days, then two days is your life and everything in it will be in proportion. This is how you live a life in two days. And if you stop complaining and asking for what you never will get, you will have a good life. A good life is not measured by any biblical span. / So now do not worry, take what you have, and do your work and you will have a long life and a very merry one.
Don’t ever kid yourself about loving some one. It is just that most people are not lucky enough ever to have it. You never had it before and now you have it. What you have with Maria, whether it lasts just through today and a part of tomorrow, or whether it lasts for a long life is the most important thing that can happen to a human being. There will always be people who say it does not exist because they cannot have it. But I tell you it is true and that you have it and that you are lucky even if you die tomorrow.