“All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you…. If you can get so that you can give that to people, then you are a writer.”
Ernest Hemingway, “Old Newsman Writes: A Letter from Cuba,” 1934
“She shot very well this good, this rich bitch, this kindly caretaker and destroyer of his talent. Nonsense. He had destroyed his talent himself. Why should he blame this woman because she kept him well? He had destroyed his talent by not using it, by betrayals of himself and what he believed in, by drinking so much that he blunted the edge of his perceptions, by laziness, by sloth, and by snobbery, by pride and by prejudice, by hook and by crook.”
Ernest Hemingway, “The Snows of Kilimanjaro”
“Nick slipped off his pack and lay down in the shade. He lay on his back and looked up into the pine trees. His neck and back and the small of his back rested as he stretched. The earth felt good against his back. He looked up at the sky, through the branches, and then shut his eyes. He opened them and looked up again. There was a wind high up in the branches. He shut his eyes again and went to sleep.”
Ernest Hemingway, “Big Two-Hearted River: Part I”
“If a writer of prose knows enough about what he is writing about he may omit things that he knows and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things.”
The above cite purports to know what should/would be on Hem’s ipod. Hmm, being a skeptic, I have to ask, “How do they know?” Still we can speculate.
I see Hem listening to Sinatra. I don’t know why. Maybe because it’s so 30’s and 40’s elegant. Hemingway called Josephine Baker, the African-American entertainer who emigrated to France around the same time as Hemingway was there, “the most sensational woman anyone ever saw.”
Hem claims he met Josephine Baker in Paris at the best jazz club ever called Le Jockey and that she was there one night: “tall, coffee skin, ebony eyes, legs of paradise, a smile to end all smiles. Very hot night but she was wearing a coat of black fur. She turned her eyes on me and I cut in. Everything under that fur communicated with me. I introduced myself and asked her name. “Josephine Baker,” she said. We danced nonstop for the rest of the night. She never took off her fur coat. Wasn’t until the joint closed she told me she had nothing on underneath.” (Papa Hemingway, A.E. Hotchner)
So I think we can presume that there is some great jazz on his ipod. I’ve seen photos of Papa dancing with Martha so he did enjoy music and dancing, it seems. That was the early 40’s.
In The Snows of Kilimanjaro, Harry references a 1933 Cole Porter tune called “It’s Bad for Me”. I have to think that if he referenced it, he was familiar with Cole Porter’s music and he admired it. In Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris,Cole Porter is present at one of the impromptu parties all of which suggests that Cole Porter and Hem crossed paths in a good way in Paris and maybe in NY, although Hem didn’t love NY.
From Hem’s love of Cuba, I see a love of the Spanish blend with Jazz. So what do you think is on Hem’s ipod? some cat songs? Speaking of which I’m in the middle of reading Hemingway’s Cats. Loving it, honestly. There is also mention of his dogs. I’ll post on this subject some other day.
We know that Hemingway’s mother had him playing the cello–badly if he is to be believed–and I’m sure chamber music was prevalent in the Hemingway household of his youth. Perhaps, in light of Hem’s dislike of his mother, he never listened to classical music after he left the family womb.
I just read a great article in The Paris Review describing Hem’s work room in Cuba. He stood up to write most of the time, with Black Dog sleeping at his feet for as long as it took. I believe the standing up thing was due to his bad back from the crazy plane crashes he was in. The article describes the room in great detail down to the book cases, the desk, the shutters but no mention is made of a radio or a phonograph. I can only conclude that Hem wrote with no accompaniement. Actually, I just read that although he built himself that studio at the Finca (as part of the cat house) to write (the cats occupied the second floor, his studio was on the third floor), in actuality, he reverted to writing in the house. He missed the animals and was more comfortable there.
Hem’s great pal, A.E.Hotchner, recalls Hem liking music but does not recall him going to concerts or music events. “He did not like theater, opera or ballet, and although he liked to listen to music he rarely, to my knowledge, attended a concert or any other musicial presentation, longhair or jazz.” A.E. Hotchner Papa Hemingway Page. 28.
Still he frequented many a jazz bar with Hem in Cuba.
Hem liked cigars, women, booze, and pals. He was a great raconteur. I have to think that music went with it all. I see his ipod being loaded with Sinatra, Santana (if he were around then), Cole Porter, Ella Fitzgerald, Josephine Baker, and Duke Ellington. What do you think? He might even go for a bit of Tim McGraw while out in Ketchum. Then again, I sure can see a bit of Parrot Head music while in Key West and Cuba. Take it away, Jimmy Buffett. Wasting away again in Margaritaville, looking for . . . . Who do you think is on Papa’s Ipod?
A new movie, Can You Ever Forgive Me, starring Melissa McCarthy, just came out. She plays a con artist and in essence a criminal who, in order to make money, spent 2 years in the early 1990’s writing forgeries of letters by the likes of Noel Coward, Hemingway, and Dorothy Parker. She then auctioned them off to collectors for quite hefty sums. The character is based on the real-life character, Lee Israel, who had originally been a New York based writer and she’d had some early successes penning biographies of Tallulah Bankhead and the game show panelist Dorothy Kilgallen. However, before she turned to fraud, she was on welfare and had no literary prospects.
It will be interesting to see which Hemingway letters she worked off of or if she simply made up things whole cloth and was able to capture his voice. She must have been good because experts at the auctions must have accepted that these were the real thing.
McCarthy, who is best known for her comedy roles, her SNL take on Sean Spicer, Bridesmaids, and similar comedies, is receiving early praise for this serious role. It could be a good movie to see over the holidays!
Ernest Hemingway survived anthrax, malaria, pneumonia, skin cancer, hepatitis, diabetes, two plane crashes (on consecutive days), a ruptured kidney, a ruptured spleen, a ruptured liver, a crushed vertebra, a fractured skull, and more.
In the end, the only thing that could kill Hemingway it would seem, was himself…
On a trip to Africa in 1954, Hemingway and Mary were in not one but two plane crashes. Both were bad but the second was worse. I’ll write a post on that incident soon. However, it was fear both Hem and Mary died. He delighted in reading the obits about himself. However, there was nothing funny about the wounds he received which lasted the rest of his life. He was always accident prone and had suffered several concussions before the crashes. It was very bad. The below is one of the many new headlines proclaiming the fear that he had perished in the crash. By the way, I hate the game hunting and take some solace in the fact that later in life he had regrets and noted that he preferred shooting wildlife with a camera, not a gun. Best, Christine
In 1954, while in Africa, Hemingway was almost fatally injured in two successive plane crashes. He chartered a sightseeing flight over the Belgian Congo as a Christmas present to Mary. On their way to photograph Murchison Falls from the air, the plane struck an abandoned utility pole and “crash landed in heavy brush.” Hemingway’s injuries included a head wound, while his wife Mary broke two ribs. The next day, attempting to reach medical care in Entebbe, they boarded a second plane that exploded at take-off, with Hemingway suffering burns and another concussion, this one serious enough to cause leaking of cerebral fluid. They eventually arrived in Entebbe to find reporters covering the story of Hemingway’s death. He briefed the reporters and spent the next few weeks recuperating and reading his erroneous obituaries.
Dear Readers: I just read Night at Key West and it was truly great fun. It takes place in Key West in the Thirties when our main character, Simon, dispatches to Key West to solve a disappearance that becomes a murder investigation. I saw Simon as a bit of an Aaron Hotchner sidekick and a Nick Adams sort of reporter of the odd events around him. It is really a kick and Hemingway features prominently. Below is my review on Amazon and link.
I just finished reading Murder in Key West by Craig A. Hart and I enjoyed it immensely. I initially read it because Hemingway is a main fictionalized but based on reality character, and I read almost everything Hemingway-related. However, the book was wonderfully involving, funny, fun, and yes, a real mystery to figure out with trips and twists at most page turns. There’s enough Hemingway for old hands to enjoy with inside jokes about the pool in Key West and Scott Fitzgerald’s editing of The Sun Also Rises as well as fun anecdotes for readers who know nothing about Hemingway.
The writing itself is terrific. I laughed at some of the funny phrases such as “largely ineffectual energy” and “like a chihuahua watchdog” and i really enjoyed the sense of Key West in the 1930s and the small town characters at the courthouse, the police station, and the diner. It was a fun Sam Spade mystery, not too heavy (Simon the narrator is a bit of a Nick Adams persona) and I highly recommend it to mystery readers, lovers of fiction set in the ‘30s, and Hemingway fans. Great fun and good writing in one delightful package.
I finished reading Paula McLain’s new novel called Love and Ruin: A Novel.It’s the story of Martha Gellhorn, Hemingway’s third wife, and begins in 1937 when she is struggling to become a war journalist – which for a woman in those days was a formidable challenge – and her meeting fortuitously or unfortunately depending upon how you look at it with Ernest Hemingway.
I enjoyed it, and to tell you the truth, I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it as much as I did. For starters, I know too much about all of this. Second, I didn’t love The Paris Wife.
Love and Ruinfocused a great deal on the Spanish Civil War and that may become tedious for some readers. However, it truly was extraordinary that Martha Gellhorn was able to cover those sorts of stories. I didn’t feel that Paula McLain portrayed Hemingway as a villain. Since the book stopped at the end of the marriage to Hemingway while giving a wrap up, I will let all of you read more about Martha and come to your own conclusions about her. She was an extraordinary woman and while Hemingway definitely wanted her in his life more as a wife than as an independent journalist, the association was definitely beneficial to her.
I very much enjoyed the portions of the book about Martha’s discovery of the Finca Vigía, Hemingway’s Cuban home, and her efforts to restore it. It must have been hard for her to leave when they divorced and to know it was taken over by Mary Welsh, her successor and Hemingway’s fourth wife. I also admired (and have read this many other times) Martha’s relationship with Hemingway’s sons. It was very good. She was kind, generous, and caring toward the boys.
(That being said, she knew very well that Hemingway was married to Pauline when they began their affair but could not resist his magnetism and of course he knew he was still very much married with children.)
In reading some of the reviews on Amazon, it seems well received. I have to note that many people just don’t like Hemingway. I think that there is so much written about him but I hardly read anywhere that he had a good sense of humor, or that he was driven and a hard worker, or that he loved his first wife to the end even though he knew he’d been a poor husband, or that he loved his animals and was kind and generous to veterans, his staff, charities. Perhaps it is easier to focus on his bad points, which again are not hard to find. His drinking, his insecurities, his desire to dominate are not pretty.
I do recommend it however as it’s good easy reading, interesting, and adds dimension and texture to Martha’s legacy.
So what do we make of this?The Bible is foolish and Hemingway’s sentences “too short.” Really? Read this and see if you agree. The below is quoting from the full article with a few comments. Check out the list directly. Best, Christine
GQ magazine: The Bible is “foolish” and “ill-intentioned”
The Bible’s been around for centuries but GQ magazine is like, eh? What’s so great about it? Instead of Scripture, it has a fiction recommendation for you.
The Good Book makes the mag’s list of “21 Books You Don’t Have to Read.”While allowing “there are some good parts,” the post warns that it’s “repetitive, self-contradictory, sententious, foolish, and even at times ill-intentioned.” ( This is me: Click above link to see the 21 books. Lonesome Dove? Really. One of the greatest westerns ever. Also on list is The Old Man and the Sea, and A Farewell to Arms. GQ goes on to suggest alternatives).
Instead, GQ suggests that instead of THE BIBLE, how about “The Notebook? by Agote Kristof, not the Nicholas Sparks book of the same name. Kritsof’s book is billed as “a marvelous tale of two brothers who have to get along when things get rough.” Ok, i have not read it and it is likely great but i am not convinced yet.
The Bible finds itself in the company of works by J.D. Salinger, Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway on the list of books GQ is just not that into. “Catcher in the Rye” is dinged as being “without any literary merit whatsoever.” “Huckleberry Finn” is tedious, meandering and hamfisted. Hemingway’s sentences? Too short.
BOSTON — A new Ernest Hemingway exhibition puts a fresh spin on the author’s colorful life and legacy by displaying his own books and belongings alongside pop culture items from his time.
“Ernest Hemingway: A Life Inspired” opened Thursday at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, which has become the leading research center for Hemingway studies.
Visitors to the expanded show will see manuscripts for “A Farewell to Arms,” “The Sun Also Rises,” “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and other Hemingway works — but they’ll also glimpse popular paperback books from the first half of the 20th century, as well as magazines, photographs and other mementos pulled straight from his world.
It’s an elaborate attempt to portray “Papa” in his proper context.
“It is now our pleasure to present a permanent Ernest Hemingway exhibit that tells the writer’s story by weaving together his literary masterpieces with his worldly inspirations,” said James Roth, the JFK Library’s deputy director.
“The exhibit places the viewer in Hemingway’s shoes, seeing the people and places that inspired his greatest works,” he said.
It includes many of the papers, photos, fishing rods, mounted animal trophies and other quirky personal belongings that Hemingway’s widow, Mary, retrieved from the author’s former estate in Cuba with help from JFK after her husband died in 1961. She later offered a trove of items to Jacqueline Kennedy for safekeeping and display at the Boston library, which opened in 1979.
It’s since become the world’s No. 1 repository of Hemingway lore.
Hemingway and Kennedy never met, but the late president was an admirer. He wrote Hemingway for permission to use his oft-quoted phrase “grace under pressure” in the opening to JFK’s own Pulitzer Prize-winning “Profiles in Courage.”
The new permanent display builds and expands on a 2016 temporary but ambitious exhibition, “Ernest Hemingway: Between Two Wars.” Curated by Hilary Justice, the presidential library’s Hemingway expert, the latest presentation draws from virtually every aspect of JFK’s vast Hemingway collection.
On show are first editions of Hemingway’s major works; personal photos from his own collection; and photos of the women who inspired him. (Spoiler alert: Hemingway had a reputation for being a “man’s man” and a misogynist, but strong women helped shape his art.)
There are also pages from early drafts of some of Hemingway’s most celebrated books.
“The Old Man and the Sea,” his last major work of fiction, figures prominently. A Live magazine edition of the novel is on display, along with 32 covers of translations done around the globe.
Dear Readers: Hemingway still inspires. Best, Christine
THE GOOD SOLDIER
John McCain Found Lifelong Inspiration From a Hemingway Hero
The late senator first read ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls’ when he was 12 years old, and the book’s hero, Robert Jordan, became an enduring role model.
No literary figure, Senator John McCain often pointed out, had more influence on how he conducted his life than Robert Jordan, the hero of Ernest Hemingway’s 1940 novel about the Spanish Civil War, For Whom the Bell Tolls.
In his most recent book, The Restless Wave, written in collaboration with Mark Salter, McCain wrote about his impending death by observing, “’The world is a fine place and worth the fighting for and I hate very much to leave it,’ spoke my hero, Robert Jordan, in For Whom the Bell Tolls. And I do, too. But I don’t have a complaint. Not one.”
McCain first read For Whom the Bell Tolls when he was 12, and he returned to it in succeeding years. “It’s my favorite novel of all time. It instructed me to see the world as it is, with all its corruption and cruelty, and believe it’s worth fighting for anyway, even dying for,” McCain observed earlier this year in an interview. The title of McCain’s 2002 memoir, Worth Fighting For, comes from the same For Whom the Bell Tolls passage that he quotes in The Restless Wave.
With so many literary heroes to pick from, McCain’s choice of Robert Jordan is revealing. Robert Jordan is no superhero, capable of overcoming all odds. Even in the 1943 movie version of For Whom the Bell Tolls, starring Gary Cooper and Ingrid Bergman, Jordan dies alone. In the passage McCain cites in The Restless Wave, Jordan lies concealed behind a tree with a submachine gun, hoping he can delay the heavily armed fascist troops who have been pursuing him and the guerrilla band he is with.
Jordan has gotten himself into this position by traveling from America to Spain to flight with the Loyalist forces supporting the democratically elected government of the five-year-old Spanish Republic, which in 1936 came under siege from a fascist military coalition led by General Francisco Franco, who ruled Spain from the end of the Spanish Civil War in 1939 until he died in 1975.
Jordan knows that his own death is a certainty. He has sustained a broken leg as a result of the horse he has been riding falling on him. No matter what he does, he cannot flee. The best that he can do is sacrifice his life so that others, including the woman he loves, may live. “You’ve had as good a life as anyone because of these last days,” Jordan tells himself. “You do not want to complain because you have been so lucky.”
As he faces the end of his life, Jordan’s bravery reflects his character, but just as important are the choices that have brought him to this point. He is not a professional soldier, although he comes from a family in which his grandfather fought in the Civil War for four years. Until now Jordan has led a quiet life as an instructor in Spanish at the University of Montana. As a child he saw a lynching, but he was too young to do anything about it.
What has led Jordan to abandon the comfortable life he was leading in America is the prospect of the Loyalist defenders of the Spanish Republic being overwhelmed by a fascist cabal relying on foreign aid. During the Spanish Civil War, America was neutral as a result of a bill President Roosevelt signed on May 1, 1937, banning the export of arms and ammunition to the warring parties in Spain.
By contrast, neither Germany nor Italy saw any reason to remain neutral when they believed they had much to gain from helping a fascist ally. As historian Adam Hochschild notes in Spain Is in Our Hearts, his account of the Americans who fought in the Spanish Civil War, the German and Italian contributions to Franco were immense and gave both nations a chance to test out weapons they would use in World War II.
Some 19,000 German troops and instructors saw action in Spain or helped train Fascist troops, and nearly 80,000 Italian troops fought for Franco between the start of the Spanish Civil War and its conclusion. The Soviet Union, which for a period identified itself with the Loyalists, provided only limited aid by comparison.
For Hemingway, who made four trips to Spain to report on its Civil War for the North American Newspaper Alliance, Jordan was an admirable figure who reflected what was best about the 2,800 Americans who went to Spain to fight on the Loyalist side. Jordan knows that the Loyalist side he is on is capable of great cruelty. He is no fan of the Communists who are part of the Loyalist alliance. But Jordan sees the flaws in the fascists as so much greater than those of the Loyalists that he does not back away from the commitment he has made to the war.
In this commitment Jordan mirrors Hemingway, who in a 1937 letter described the Spanish Civil War as “the dress rehearsal for the inevitable European war.” Hemingway raised money in support of the Loyalist side, and with his future wife, the correspondent Martha Gellhorn, who travelled to Spain with him, he went to the White House for a showing of the pro-Loyalist film, The Spanish Earth, before President and Eleanor Roosevelt.
In the end Hemingway had to content himself with doing his best rather than getting the outcome in Spain that he wanted, and so finally must Robert Jordan. What makes Jordan admirable is what made McCain admirable—his unwillingness to sit on the sidelines and watch democracy be undermined.
The publication of Ernest Hemingway’s 1956 short story, “A Room on the Garden Side,” in the current issue of The Strand Magazine, a literary quarterly, has generated widespread interest. Until now “A Room on the Garden Side” was available only through the Hemingway Collection at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston.
“A Room on the Garden Side” is a find for anyone interested in Hemingway, but what is surprising about the story, which is set during World War II, is how much it speaks to the present moment when America’s obligations to other nations, especially our European allies, have been thrown into question by the Trump administration.
The turning point in “A Room on the Garden Side” comes when Robert, the story’s narrator and a Hemingway stand-in who, like Hemingway, is called “Papa,” explains why he is engaged in combat that he might easily avoid. Robert’s explanation for the obligation he feels to take part in the war reflects the life he has chosen for himself, and the art of “A Room on the Garden Side” lies in the way we are gradually brought to identify with Robert.
To help readers come to terms with “A Room on the Garden Side,” The Strand has published it with a thoughtful afterword by Kirk Curnutt, a board member of the Ernest Hemingway Society.
The title of “A Room on the Garden Side” refers to the location of the room Robert has been given at the Ritz hotel just when Paris has been liberated from Nazi control. The situation parallels that of Hemingway, who arrived in Paris on August 25, 1944, with a group of irregular troops he had gathered in the small French village of Rambouillet.
At the time Hemingway was officially a correspondent for Collier’s, but in Rambouillet he went far beyond his journalistic role, casting aside the doubts he expressed about himself earlier in the year when he wrote his wife, thejournalist Martha Gellhorn, “Just feel like horse, old horse, good, sound, but old.” In conjunction with Colonel David Bruce of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the forerunner of today’s CIA, Hemingway and the French irregulars with him at Rambouillet did their best to defend the village and locate the scattered German forces around it. When General Jacques LeClerc, whom the allies had given the honor of liberating Paris, arrived, they gave him the information they had gathered and then followed LeClerc’s Second Armored Division to Paris before entering the city on their own.
In his diary, OSS Against the Reich, Bruce, who later served as ambassador to France and England, records how, when he, Hemingway, and their driver entered Paris in their jeep, the Champs Elysees was free of traffic and they were able to make their way to the Travellers Club and from there to the Ritz, where Hemingway was fondly remembered from the time he spent as a young writer in Paris in the ’20s.
“A Room on the Garden Side” takes place within the confines of the Ritz. It includes much that is factual. Hemingway uses the first names of partisans who were with him and recounts an actual meeting that he had at the Ritz at this time with the French novelist Andre Malraux. But the heart of the story hinges on conversations with himself and others that Robert has about writing and warfare. We don’t get much about wartime Paris or the charms of the Ritz in “A Room on the Garden Side.”
Robert, who is relaxing by reading Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal, speaks about such French writers as Marcel Proust and Victor Hugo and in doing so, he is forced to acknowledge that, although a writer, he is now using his time to fight rather than write. By way of justifying himself, Robert, who admits that he enjoys combat, observes, “I did it to save the lives of people who had not hired out to fight. There was that and the fact that I had learned to know and love an infantry division and wished to serve it in any useful way I could.”
The justification is brief in terms of the space it takes up in “A Room on the Garden Side” and departs from Hemingway’s own history, making no mention of the difficulty he got into as a result of what he did in Rambouillet. It is against the protocols of the Geneva Convention for war correspondents to take part in fighting, and rival correspondents, resentful of Hemingway’s actions in Rambouillet, reported him to the military.
In early October 1944, Hemingway was ordered to report for a hearing at the headquarters of the inspector general of the Third Army, but the last thing the Army wanted to do was punish America’s leading novelist and send him home. Hemingway was acquitted of all the charges against him at a hearing at which, he later acknowledged, he was coached ahead of time on how to give answers that would keep him out of trouble.
The impact of the hearing on Hemingway was to make him even more confident that he was right to take up arms when he did. It was not, he believed, enough to bear witness to history. It was necessary to act.
Twelve years later, when Hemingway fictionalized the events of 1944, his convictions had not changed, but the bitterness that had prompted him to write a friend in the wake of his hearing, “Beat rap,” was gone. Robert has no hesitation about returning to battle, and nothing in “A Room on the Garden Side” suggests that Hemingway worried that in the future an American president might turn his back on the moral values Robert espouses.
In a 1956 letter to his publisher, Charles Scribner Jr., Hemingway, who two years earlier received the Nobel Prize for Literature, was confident enough about “A Room on the Garden Side” and four other short stories that he wrote at this time to assure Scribner, “Anyway you can always publish them after I’m dead.”