Day 749: Lake Maggiore

Lake Maggiore is a narrow lake, forty miles in length.  It is mostly in Italy, but its northern end is in Switzerland.  It is one of several lakes of glacial origin on the south side of the Alps that are part of the Italian Lake District.  Best known of the others are Lake Como and Lake Lugano.

Laetitia brought her group to Stressa where they boarded an excursion boat and spent much of the day visiting several of Lake Maggiore’s small towns and islands.  Upon their return to Stressa, they visited the Grand Hotel des Isles Borromees, It is and was popular with celebrities including Ernest Hemingway who made it one of the settings for his novel, A Farewell To Arms.  To some extent the novel parallels Hemingway’s own life.  Both he and his male protagonist, Frederick Henry, were Red Cross ambulance drivers on the Italian/Austrian Front.  Both were wounded and hospitalized and each was enamored with a nurse who took care of him.  His contemporaries are skeptical about whether Hemingway’s real-life romance moved beyond “courtly love,” although Hemingway once boasted that it took a trained nurse to make love to a man in a splint and his fictional characters, Fred and Catherine Barclay, certainly consummated their love affair.  We know this because Catherine became pregnant, not because there are any graphic sex scenes in the book.  Today, it’s rather baffling to try to understand what the Bostonians who banned the novel’s initial serialized publication in Scribner’s Magazine from newsstands were thinking.  Perhaps the censors thought Catherine’s dining on woodcock during their tryst in Milan a titillating bit of double entendre.  Of course, Frederick had woodcock too but that’s beside the point.

Did those Bostonians suffer shock
Because Catherine dined on woodcock
And reject all the charms
Of A Farewell to Arms
And wish that Ernest had writers’ block?