The last veteran of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade
Elisa Gabbert writes on language, translation, and fiction:
In his essay “E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction,” David Foster Wallace quotes an unnamed former instructor from his graduate school days who said “serious fiction must be timeless,” avoiding references that date a story to the “frivolous Now.” I got into a discussion with a few writer friends about this—if we want to be read five or twenty or two hundred years in the future, how are we to handle pop culture (or culture at all)?
But one of the things I love about Hemingway’s fiction is that so much of it is tightly bound to his own period. For Whom the Bell Tolls is not just a story of war, but of the Spanish Civil War, in Europe of the 1930s, woven through with the technology and culture and mores of the time and place.