The central character and the omnipresent focal point of True at First Light is the narrator who is, in propria persona, Ernest Hemingway. Given this fact, the narrative's primary mode of being amounts to an ironic, humorous, and self-deprecating record of the interior meditative life of a writer set in juxtaposition against the life of action of a temporary game warden going about his duties. In the contemplative mode, there is much made here of the literary life, of the writer's relationship to readers, critics, biographers, and fellow writers. Literary allusions abound. For example, the passage which gives the work its current title (not Hemingway's title, but a good choice made by the editor) evokes both Virgil and Dante in a context dealing with art and truth: "We were all reading the Georgics then in the C. Day Lewis translation. We had two copies but they were always being lost or mislaid. ... The only fault I could ever find with the Mantovan was that he made all normally intelligent people feel as though they too could write great poetry." Of course, Virgil's attention to husbandry, to divinity, to a religious attitude expressed in the mystery of sacrifice, as well as his sympathy with nature, animals and humankind make this allusion most apt for game warden Hemingway. The passage continues:
Dante only made crazy people feel they could write great poetry. That was not true of course but then almost nothing was true and...
(The entire section is 1995 words.)
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