- The Great Gatsby
- All Quiet On The Western Front
- The Sun Also Rises
- The Prophet
- The Sound And The Fury
- The Age Of Innocence
I can imagine what Hemingway would think if he read today's fast-paced best selling novels with no character developement, no emotion, no plot, just the nonstop action of robotic characters unable to speak in full sentences uttering a plethora of expletives. The 1920's was a magical time after the First World War. A time called "The Roaring Twenties" and the "Jazz Age, it was a time of economic prosperity, of creativity and social and cultural dynamism. Coco Chanel introduced the "Little Black Dress" and women were at last granted the right to vote.
All of these thoughts come to mind when I look at the the old typewriters of the 1920's: the Corona 4, Underwood and Remington typewriters. Ernest Hemingway preferred to write standing up on his Royal Quiet de Luxe typewriter. I could go on and on about these machines which brings back the nostalgia of my great grandparents time. For me, I think of it as a time of innocence. Today, we know so much. We hear so much. Our brains are polluted by the technology of sounds, of nonstop information. There is no time to think. The news media thinks for us. We rarely have time to create a thought of our own. We don't exercise our brains the way our grandparents did. How many Millennials can do basic addition and subtraction, multiplication and division in their heads without the use of a calculator? To me, the typewriter is a like a peak into a time of simplicity. It reminds me of WIlliam Blake's Songs of Innocence and Experience, a time of childhood versus adulthood.
A bell would ring at the end of each line at the place you set your margins to remind you to push the carriage handle to the right so that you could go to the next line. It was quite ingenius. The best part was the sound of the little keys hitting the paper. The keys were instrumental in causing that little stamp to strike the paper. And you had to hit the keys hard so that the letters could transfer onto the paper. And if you made a typo, there was no backspace or delete button. You had to roll the paper back in the exact same spot and use whiteout or sticky correction paper and then strike the key to make its fontmark on the page. Otherwise, if you are clumsy, like I was back in those days, you would have to start all over again! And I won't even go into how to change the ribbon. It was complicated. Once you got the hang of it, the sheer physicality of the act of typing gave one a sweet sense of pouring your thoughts into reality.