Paris: To find traces of Hemingway Part one

Cole Porter  Hem in Paris Paris 1927  2014-06-15 06.26.20     2014-06-17 05.34.58             I finally made it to Paris after a bit of drama in getting away.  Due to a family illness, the trip was touch and go as to whether or not we were going to get there at all. Emergency rooms, doctor appointments (not for me; I was packed and set to board that plane) but two days later, after a doctor cleared the trip, we arrived in Paris.

We had rented an apartment in the Marais district and it was perfect.  There were two flights of stairs to lug baggage up but it was not too tough and the climb was worth it. The apartment was both quaint and modern. It was bright and sunny with a wonderful galley kitchen. We marveled over the storage in the modest space. I immediately checked out the WIFI and it worked as if I were home in Connecticut. I’d brought my own hotspot anticipating a glitch but there was none.

The neighborhood was very walkable. Once outside our lovely garden courtyard, I strolled narrow streets, ducked into little hidden parks, heard a band playing in the street in the middle of the day. Better yet, couples took to the street dancing and an old lady danced solo up near the band. It was at that moment that after being in Paris one hour that I knew it would capture my soul.2014-06-15 09.18.50

It was just a few steps around the corner to a bakery with fresh baguettes and croissants. Cheese and supplies were handy from a nearby small grocery.

I launched my Hemingway search on day one. While, of course, Paris has changed vastly since Hemingway was there, but still there are some memorable spots that are not much changed.  Shakespeare & Company is still there minus Sylvia Beach. Les Deux Magots is still there, although it’s now a very busy corner.  I had fun pretending that Hemingway was sitting at a corner table, deep in thought and writing what ultimately became The Sun Also Rises or one of his reporting pieces that kept the family afloat while he waited for his big break.2014-06-16 06.43.42

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I walked the Hemingway walk along the Seine, up to Montmartre and saw the first apartment that he and Hadley shared.  Obviously it’s occupied but I saw where it was.  I was recently listening to some tapes that Alice Sokoloff had made of conversations with Hadley and which ultimately went into her book about Hadley.  Hadley described in this conversation the bad neighborhood that she and Hemingway lived in when they first arrived in Paris, the unpleasant smells from the nearby businesses, and her loneliness in Paris. I’d never been as aware of that fact prior to listening to the tape.  I had the impression that Hadley was happy in Paris because Hemingway was happy, but she described how difficult it was without knowing the language and given the fact that he was away during the day writing. She felt alone and an outsider.  She was very homesick.  She ultimately came to love Paris and willingly stayed there and even after moving back to Chicago with her second husband Paul Mowrer, she and Paul went back to live in Paris for a few years after the war.  A Moveable Feast describes well the foods, the sights, and the smells in Paris in those early years.  It was my dream to go and see these places while knowing they had changed, and it exceeded my expectation.Gertrude stein rue2014-06-16 06.51.28

 

Aside from the Hemingway connection, I found Paris to be the most lovely city I’ve ever been in and I can’t wait to go back.  I truly fell in love with it.  I did not meet one surly French person.  I speak a little French but far from well.  Still, everyone was simply wonderful; the food was terrific and we weren’t eating at five-star restaurants and I felt welcome and everyone we met was very friendly. I am obsessed with the Eiffel Tower, the Seine, the Love Lock Bridge, the Pont Neuf, the Rodin Museum. I would go back in a split second and I will. To Hemingway’s Paris, then and now.2014-06-15 06.44.43 Below: me at the Place des Voges.

 

Hemingway’s Seminal Novel issued with new Beginning

The Sun Also Rises did have a different beginning when Hemingway first wrote it. Apparently, Scott Fitzgerald suggested that Hemingway begin later in the story and crossed out the beginning Hem had slated for the novel. He followed that advice and the rest is history.

Or not. A new edition shows Hemingway’s original placement of paragraphs. For background, please see  Hemingway reworked.

Hemingway Places

Nice article about places to visit and feel Papa’s memories. I did not know that his usual seat at La Flordita in Havana was blocked off and a daiquiri placed on the counter daily near his statue. I have it on good authority that his favorite drink however was a mega-cold Martini. However, a daiquiri will do. Hem Places

The Best of Hemingway Novels

Hem at typewriter

Catherine and Frederic

Catherine and Frederic

I mentioned last post that I’ve been re-reading Hemingway’s novels. I finished A Farewell to Arms and Across the River and into the Woods. I found so much more to love in A Farewell to Arms than my first few times around. While Catherine is dated in her attitude and her fawning for love, she still was working, living on her own, and in love. Frederic goes from looking for a fun time so loving Catherine deeply. I loved the scenes with Rinaldi and when he calls Frederic “baby.”  Wonderful novel.

Across the River was not on the “best” list, At times, I found it hard to get through but it picked up in the end and I liked it but didn’t understand what The Colonel saw in Renata. She was young and beautiful but vapid and not even very spirited. However, Hemingway too was in love when writing it and Adriana, his prototype for Renata,was being seen through his eye. Still  not a favorite. I liked the sense of Venice but not too much else.

Venice nights

Venice nights

Read “Hemingway’s Best Novels” for yourself. Link below.

http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/tip-sheet/article/62748-best-hemingway-books.html

This was a fun article to read. The comments were just as much fun because everyone has an opinion. It is interesting to see which novels are preferred, and whether only purists love the short stories best. I found the insights to be illuminating. My favorite novel is For whom the Bell Tolls, and among the short stories, I love The Snows of Kilimanjaro and A Clean Well-Lighted Place. The end of Something is also one I reread often.

The end of Something

The end of Something

You?

 

Re-Reading Hemingway

 

            I decided it was time to re-read Hemingway. I’ve read all of it but lately have been reading more books about him instead of reading him. I just finished Mary (wife 4) Hemingway’s How It Was. It had been widely criticized as self-serving and not insightful. For me, it still was very interesting to see Mary’s point of view and I thoroughly enjoyed hearing about events that I knew much about but this time from Mary’s perspective. She is a complicated figure and that’s for another post. She put up with a lot of verbal abuse from Hem but also seems to have wanted to be “Hemingway’s Wife,” and for that, she endured.

Mary in older age

Mary in older age

Mary's book

Mary’s book

 

Within the past six months, I also have read Hemingway’s Cats and Hemingway and FItzgerald..  I loved the animal book as much as anything I’ve read about Hemingway! No, it’s not scholarly but it’s human and I am an extreme animal person so I completely melted into the book. I love that Hem loved his animals like family members and he valued their presence in his life.

Hem, boys, and cat

Hem, boys, and cat

A month ago,I began reading the short stories again. I read slowly and

Scott

Scott

found new meaning and layers in this go-round. Favorite: The Snows of Kilimanjaro.  I’m now tackling A Farewell to Arms. I’m listening to it on an audio tape because I find it lets me listen and focus on the words and the sentence structure as opposed to being distracted by the dog, dinner, building a fire, and my office work that’s sitting in a pile on my table.

 

Hem, Martha, boys

Hem, Martha, boys

In listening, I am finding that there is so much that I missed or that I’d forgotten.  Despite my affinity for Hemingway, I don’t like war stories as a rule.  However, listening to the dialogue, I became completely engrossed in the maneuvers of Hemingway’s unit/Frederic Henry’s unit and his cohorts with him. I love Rinaldi and the way he calls Frederic “baby.”

The descriptions are beautiful and immediate and while by modern standards, the romance and the dialogue between Frederic and Catherine are dated, the emotional wallop is still there.

A Farewell to Arms

A Farewell to Arms

Next up is Across The River and into the Trees, Hemingway’s most maligned novel for which Adrianna Ivancich was his muse.  As he was writing it, Hemingway apparently thought it was going to be one of his best.  The reviews were brutal.  I haven’t read that one in a long time and I want to see if it’s as bad as all that.

 

So:  Do you have a favorite short story?  A Clean, Well-Lighted Place is probably my favorite but The Snows of Kilimanjaro is the pinnacle for me.

Kilimanjaro

Kilimanjaro

 

 

Hemingway movies coming up!

It is not surprising to me that there continues to be so much interest in Hemingway even 53 years after his death. As far as I know, the following movies are in the works.

The Sun Also Rises

The Sun Also Rises

Catherine and Frederic

Catherine and Frederic

1) A Moveable Feast, being either directed or produced by Mariel Hemingway. No word on who will be in it.

2) Hemingway and Fuentes, being produced and directed by Andy Garcia. Gregorio Fuentes was Hemingway’s Captain of the Pilar and also good friend. Hemingway was to be played by Anthony Hopkins, now replaced by Jon Voigt. I believe that Andy Garcia will be playing Gregorio Fuentes.

3) I don’t know the title but there is a movie in production about Maxwell Perkins, Hemingway’s editor (also Fitzgerald’s editor) to be played by Colin Firth. It focuses however on Perkins’ tempestuous relationship with James Jones  (From Here to Eternity) more than on Hemingway or Fitzgerald but I’m sure both will figure prominently.

Midnight in Paris

Midnight in Paris

Two fairly recent books have come out: Rene Villarreal, Hemingway’s Cuban Son. I just bought it and have not had a chance to read it yet. Rene was Hem’s major duomo at his Cuban home, The Finca Vigia. It sounds like a sweet and lovely portrayal.

Hemingway and Gellhorn

Hemingway and Gellhorn

Hemingway Wives: This is a book about Hem’s wives through each one’s point of view. Apparently the author most identified with Pauline which is a change from most books. Most relate to Hadley or Martha. I have mine on pre-order.

I myself am working on a Hemingway themed novel. When far enough along, I’ll share some. I am pretty excited about it and hope that I can write it as well as I see it in my mind.

And that’s meItaly and home 189 following the Hem trail in Italy. I am not sure there is a Hemingway trail but of course there is Venice, the places that he went in the war, and Rapallo where I did spend time. I enjoyed the hotel where he wrote “The Cat in the Rain,” one of my favorites.

 

 

 

HEMINGWAY TIDBITS

 

Younger Hem

Younger Hem

 

              As usual, Hemingway is in the news everywhere.  So what’s new?

 

1.)  There apparently is news that there is a computer program that can predict whether you or I are the next Hemingway.  You can send in a sample of your writing and the computer can tell you if you are in line with his style or just another wannabe.  Hem, Mary

 

I'd like to see Paris before I'm too old

I’d like to see Paris before I’m too old

 

 

 

We all know that there is so much more that went into his writing than on the surface.  One of the prime theories that Hem put to the test was the iceberg theory.  For every sentence that he wrote on the paper, there were ten that didn’t get down on the paper but that were distilled into making that one sentence. When Hemingway wrote about a waiter, he–in his head–knew the waiter’s whole history and it was his theory that by knowing that history, even though it didn’t make it to the paper and the story, it added some texture to what eventually got into the story.  He wrote the ending to A Farewell to Arms thirty-nine times and he wrote the last sentence of the The Sun Also Rises “Isn’t it pretty to think so?” many, many times until it had the exact inflection he wanted.  No program can take that into account.  So good luck with that computer

 

The Old Man and the Sea

The Old Man and the Sea

 

program!

 

 

                2.)  The John Fitzgerald Kennedy Library has received a shipment of new documents that it has added to its Hemingway collection.  One that is particularly interesting is the telegram by which Hem was advised that he’d won the Nobel Prize for literature.  It was sent to him on October 28, 1954 at 11:00 a.m.  It said: 

       At its session today the Swedish Academy decided to award you the 1954 Nobel Prize for literature and I would accordingly request you to notify me if you accept this award and whether in that case it would be possible for you to be present in Stockholm on Nobel Bay December 10 to receive the prize from the hands of His Majesty the King.  Anders Obersterling, Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy, 7:00 p.m. 

 

                Hemingway was not in good enough health to go to Sweden.  He’d just survived two plane crashes in Africa and, while he put on a brave face, the second crash left him impaired for life with pain that never went away.  He wrote a brief statement that was read by John C. Cabot, the then U.S. Ambassador to Sweden.  

 

                While Hemingway told the press that Carl Sandburg, Isak Dinesen, and Bernard Berenson were far more deserving of the honor, but he could use the prize money so he accepted, I have to believe he was pleased.  He should have won it for For Whom the Bell Tolls and fortunately he won it eventually for The Old Man and the Sea.  

                It’s wonderful to listen to him making the speech, which he made after the fact and recorded.  The beginning of it goes as follows: 

“Having no facility for speech making and no command of oratory nor any domination of rhetoric, I wish to thank the administrators of the generosity of Alfred Nobel for this prize. 

 

                No writer who knows the great writers who did not receive the price can accept it other than with humility.  There is no need to list these writers.  Everyone here may make his own list according to his knowledge and conscience….Writing, at best, is a lonely life.  Organizations for writers palliate the writer’s loneliness, but I doubt if they improve his writing.  He grows in public stature as he sheds his loneliness and often his work deteriorates.  For he does his work alone and if he is a good enough writer, he must face eternity, or lack of it, each day….I have spoken too long for a writer.  A writer should write what he has to say and not speak it.  Again, I thank you.”

 

A Farewell to ArmsContentment
A Farewell to Arms

                 At his best, he was an amazing class act.