"I Fixed the Dates" and Other Details: The Logic and Illogic of Chronology and Topography in Frederic Henry’s Caporetto Retreat
Michael Reynold’s Hemingway’s First War remains essential reading for students of A Farewell to Arms. However, Reynolds errs in two significant ways: miscalculating the timeline of the Caporetto retreat and falsely claiming a fine-scale geographic accuracy for the novel that does not exist. Because Reynolds misses one full day of Frederic’s retreat activities, his timeline is twenty-four hours askew, and he also fails to recognize how Hemingway deliberately fictionalized the topography around Udine in order to include key events that reinforce the novel’s theme of the randomness and irrationality of modern warfare. Correcting these interpretive errors is essential to a full appreciation of Hemingway’s intentions and artistry.