My Irish Connection

Windy in Dingle
Windy in Dingle

A few weeks ago, I was bemoaning how to relate my trip to Ireland in May to my Hemingway obsession and I just came across an article about a new biography of Maeve Binchy, the great Irish novelist who cultivated the cozy neighborhood story to high art and who passed away recently.  She wrote many novels, usually about the west country of Ireland which is where I was.  Her writing style, her topics, and her resolutions are/were about as far from Hemingway as you can get but the article was fun and began with a famous Hemingway belief.

Dingle Peninsula
Dingle Peninsula

“It was famously laid down by Ernest Hemingway that the first condition for a writer is to have an unhappy childhood. I assumed that Maeve Binchy was the exception to the Hemingway principle, as she always spoke about the idyllic nature of her childhood.”

http://www.independent.ie/entertainment/books-arts/memories-of-maeve-29469292.html

So, I qualify!  My childhood is a story for some other longer post, probably in some other blog that focuses on Dickensian beginnings.  I was born in NJ; my parents died 5 months apart when I was seven; the court became involved, and the story goes downhill from there in certain ways but also uphill in other ways.

Anger
Anger
My life falls apart when I'm awake!
My life falls apart when I’m awake!

Hem in some ways had a good childhood in the sense that his family was large; his father took him hunting and fishing; and there were family vacations at a lake in Michigan yearly that formed the basis of many of the short stories. Hem got his love of the outdoors and nature while on the lake in Michigan with many friends and family.  However, Hem’s relationship with his mother was always a struggle and his father was a more shadowy figure in Hem’s life, who ultimately killed himself.  His mother later sent the gun to Ernest as a gift. Huh? .

So tell me about a great writer who had a great Rockwellian childhood! I’d like to hear about it.

Love crazy
Love crazy
Intelligent and happy?
Intelligent and happy?
Cliffs of Moher
Cliffs of Moher
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New Hemingway documentary film in Cuba

http://www.screendaily.com/news/production/hemingway-car-documentary-now-shooting/5061009.article?blocktitle=HEADLINES&contentID=40295

Who knew that David Soul was a Hemingway fan.  I am not sure exactly how this will be filmed but I’m always eager to view anything with a Hemingway connection.

Hem in Tweed
Hem in Tweed

 

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Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald

Zelda in ballet slippers
Zelda in ballet slippers
Scott
Scott
Rue Gertrude Stein, Paris
Rue Gertrude Stein, Paris

 

I just finished a book about the life of Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald called “Z.”  It was interesting.  Zelda’shatred for Hemingway came across loud and clear.  I know that it’s historically true.  However, there’s a claim that Hemingway came on to her, which didn’t strike me as true based on all that I’ve read and Hem’s feelings toward/against her. And there’s another portion in which she wonders if her husband, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Hemingway were closet homosexuals who had an attraction to each other.  I don’t know that much about F. Scott Fitzgerald, but there’s not anything in the volumes that I’ve read about Hemingway and his past that would even slightly suggest that. I’ve read all of the hypotheses that Hemingway went ultra-macho to compensate for homosexual feelings. I don’t see that but everyone can have an opinion. Those comments aside, I found that I had sympathy for Zelda’s plight and her frustration in her life with F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Zelda and Scott
Zelda and Scott

 

I also couldn’t help comparing Fitzgerald, of course, to Hemingway.  When Hemingway met Fitzgerald, Fitzgerald was the star, having come off of  a great success with The Beautiful and Damned. His short stories were successfully being sold and some were going to Hollywood.  F. Scott Fitzgerald was generous with his time and advice to Hemingway and they remained really close friends for a long time before something of quiet falling out occurred, probably due to normal as opposed to cut-throat literary rivalry and partly due to Hemingway’s disgust with F. Scott Fitzgerald’s drinking and Zelda.  Whatever else you can say about Hemingway and his later serious problems with the bottle, for most of his career, he was very disciplined when it came to writing.  He often stopped drinking for some significant periods of time while writing and he didn’t drink during the day while he was getting his words down on paper.  Fitzgerald began to drink daily from morning on and for many years, didn’t even try to write.

Martini anyone?
Martini anyone?
Heim in Midnight in Paris
Hem in Midnight in Paris

 

I also gathered from “Z” that the ragefulness between Zelda and Fitzgerald went on for years and they both treated each other badly.  It was a sort of recreational warfare.  That behavior certainly didn’t occur between Hemingway and Hadley.  I think there was some bitterness in his fighting with Pauline (second wife) in the end, but not the low blows Zelda and Scott hurled.  Hemingway generally felt guilty at the end of a relationship and didn’t rant and rave at his soon to be ex-wife.

The Sun Also Rises
The Sun Also Rises

His relationship with Martha (third wife) was an exception because it did become volatile.  Certainly there was anger and insults with Mary (fourth wife) and they might have divorced had Hem lived longer.  With the exception of Martha, Hem’s other three wives never tried to compete with him and perhaps that was what he was looking for in a woman. He tended to prefer stable, smart, but non-challenging women. Further, he was married four times, whereas Fitzgerald and Zelda were only married once, although affairs did occur in the marriage.

Hemingway and Gellhorn
Hemingway and Gellhorn
Married to a writer
Married to a writer
Anger
Anger

I liked the book and I felt for Zelda, which I didn’t expect.  It was interesting to read another perspective on the jazz age, and the whole lost generation crowd in Paris, including the Murphys, Gertrude Stein, John Dos Passos, Ford Madox Ford, Picasso.

You might try it.  It’s an easy read and Hemingway features prominently.

I don't get it.
I don’t get it.

 

Paris 1927
Paris 1927

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The play: Fitzgerald and Hemingway

http://www.bostonglobe.com/arts/theater-art/2013/08/17/imagining-joust-between-two-literary-giants/9Ik9oDj20EgVprB6911y4I/story.html

Hem in Tweed
Hem in Tweed
Scott
Scott

 

I’ll be posting about the Hemingway/Fitzgerald connection in a few weeks. However, this is timely.

I just read the above review in the New York Times. I’m a few weeks behind on my reading but this is the review of a play depicting a last meeting between Hemingway and Fitzgerald. It’s fictional and takes place in 1937, about 4 years before Fitzgerald died of a heart attack and Hem was working fairly well around that time. There is a comment that Hemingway is “slyly” trying to undermine Scott’s comeback.  I don’t know why so many commentators feel the need to emphasize–unfairly and incorrectly, in my opinion–Hemingway’s bluster and dominance.  He was all that but I see little effort to equally point out his generosity and kindness.  And while there is no question that he felt literary rivalry with Scott, there is little if any evidence that he tried to undermine him or sabotage his success. While he took a swipe at Scott in A Moveable Feast, let’s recall that Hem never edited or finished it.  It was published post-humously and edited first by Mary and a subsequent edition by his grandson. That whole section may have gone out or been amended significantly had Hemingway lived to complete it himself.

Superman
Superman

Anyway, both Hemingway and Fitzgerald continue to be a draw and to fascinate the next generation, perhaps equally for their lives and their legend as for their writing.

The Greek chorus: they love both men.
The Greek chorus: they love both men.
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Hemingway Documentary in Production

http://www.petoskeynews.com/community/pnr-production-resumes-on-hemingway-documentary-20130812,0,5488803.story

This documentary is tracking Hem’s early years  and the time spent on Walloon Lake in particular.  The Lake in some ways, as the documentary believes, served as his muse for many of the early short stories.

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