IRMA AND THE HEMINGWAY HOUSE: KEY WEST

May the Hemingway house and all people in the path of Irma stay safe.  Best, Christine

Managers at Ernest Hemingway’s Key West home not heeding Mariel Hemingway’s plea to take the cats and go!

A six-toed cat, one of many that reside at the home of author Ernest Hemingway, is seen February 18, 2013 in Key West, Florida. Hemingway was given a white six-toed cat by a ship's captain and some of the cats who live on the museum grounds are descendants of that original cat, named Snow White. AFP PHOTO/ Karen BLEIER (Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)
A six-toed cat, one of many that reside at the home of author Ernest Hemingway, in 2013 in Key West, Florida. Hemingway was given a white six-toed cat by a ship’s captain and some of the cats who live on the museum grounds are descendants of that original cat, named Snow White. (KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)
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UPDATE: At around 1 p.m. PST, Dave Gonzales, executive director of the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum in Key West, confirmed to CNN that he and nine other employees were staying through the fierce winds and rain expected with Hurricane Irma, saying the legendary author’s 1851 house, with its 18-inch-thick limestone walls is “the strongest fortress in all the Florida Keys.” Original story follows: 

Actress Mariel Hemingway thinks it’s noble that the 72-year-old general manager of her grandfather’s historic Key West home wants to stay and try to safeguard the property and its famous six-toed feline residents as Hurricane Irma comes barreling in.

But she’s begging Jacqui Sands to leave the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum to protect her life.

The Ernest Hemingway House is seen in this February 16, 2016 photo in Key West, Florida. / AFP / Karen BLEIER (Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)
The Ernest Hemingway House is seen in this February 16, 2016 photo in Key West, Florida. / AFP / Karen BLEIER (Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images) 

“I think you’re wonderful and an admirable person for trying to stay there and to try to save the cats and the house,” the Academy Award-winning actress said in a video posted by TMZ. 

“This is frightening. This hurricane is a big deal,” she said, adding that she should, yes, save the cats if she can.

“Get in the car with the cats and take off,” she said.

The legendary author’s home, where he wrote “A Farewell to Arms” and “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,”  is in the path of Irma, which is now categorized as a category 4 hurricane and is expected to hit the Florida Keys and other parts of southern Florida Saturday evening.

General manager Sands is tasked with securing the property and ensuring the safety of the 55 cats that freely roam there. Many of the cats are believed to be descendants of the author’s cat Snow White and have the distinctive six and seven toes on one paw.

1954: American novelist Ernest Hemingway (1899 - 1961) on safari in Africa. (Photo by Picture Post/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
American novelist  on safari in Africa in the 1950s. (Photo by Picture Post/Hulton Archive/Getty Images) 

Sands won’t be there alone with the cats. She’ll be joined by nine other employees, who have helped to stock up on food, water and medication for the cats and to board up windows and doors. They also have three generators to keep the power and air conditioning going. The other employees couldn’t leave because either they don’t have a car or couldn’t find a flight out, she said.

 

That confidence was echoed by the museum’s executive director Dave Gonzales, who told the Houston Chronicle that the 1851 French colonial home has 18-inch thick limestone walls that allow it to withstand dangerous storms.

“This isn’t our first hurricane. We’re here to stay,” Gonzalez said.

In an interview with CNN Friday afternoon, he added that at 16 feet above sea level, the house is not in a flood zone. As for the cats, he said they are adept at surviving storms, and the home has never lost a cat to a hurricane.

“Cats know naturally when to go. As soon as the barometric pressure drops, they come in,” Gonzalez said. “They know before humans do when it’s time to get in.”

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 10: Actress Mariel Hemingway attends the 2015 Hope For Depression Research Foundation Luncheon at 583 Park Avenue on November 10, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Ben Gabbe/Getty Images)
Mariel Hemingway in 2015 (Photo by Ben Gabbe/Getty Images) 

But Mariel Hemingway isn’t so confident and points out that “it’s just a house.”

She acknowledged that “none of us likes to lose things we treasure” but “ultimately you’ve got to protect your life.”

Hemingway then referred to that famous idea espoused by her grandfather in his prose.

“Courage is grace under pressure,” she said. In this case, “I think this is taking things a little too far.”

Boring Routine Has Been Dubbed Key To Creativity

Abbe Driver wrote a post recently about why having a “boring” routine is a key to creativity. It was printed in www.refinery29.uk, if you wish to view the original. Interesting!  Best, Christine

 

Had his routines.

People who don’t write usually think that fiction writers get inspiration and then begin to scribble when that inspiration hits. While there can be patches of that lightening striking, most of the time it’s being disciplined enough to sit down and write, discard what doesn’t work, and keep what does. Before I started writing, I thought that you sat by a sunny window and ideas floated in for the seizing, but that’s not how it works for most of us.

inspiration

Novelist Haruki Murakami gets up at 4:00 a.m. each day and writes for five hours. He then runs a few miles and swims a few miles and spends his evening listening to music or reading. His bedtime is set at 9:00 p.m. He told The Paris Review that repetition becomes the important thing. “It’s a form of mesmerism.  I mesmerize myself to reach a deeper state of mind.”

Those who read this blog regularly know that Hemingway awoke early when he was writing (at about 6:00 a.m.) and would write until the early afternoon. He’d then take a swim or relax and that was it for the day. He didn’t like to stop until he knew what was going to come next. However, he kept that schedule when he was writing and didn’t vary much from it. He usually cut down on his drinking while working on a novel.

Kurt Vonnegut made sure he did his pushups and sit-ups each day. Maya Angelou writes from a specially decorated hotel room she keeps solely for that purpose.

vonnegut

While this isn’t a very deep conclusion, it nevertheless seems to be true:  by keeping routines, your creativity can funnel into the work as opposed to scattering into thinking about what you’re going to have for dinner or do next. It’s a little like Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs wearing only black uniforms. None of their creativity has /had to go into wardrobe selections for the day.

steve jobs

As Ms. Driver noted in her article, we don’t like to think about this boring routine resulting in some masterpieces or at least in some decent novels. “There is nothing sexy about sitting at your laptop and putting in cold, hard time; far more alluring is the wild-haired genius who doesn’t have to try. But that is deeply flawed logic and a dangerous belief to hold… Routines might work, but they don’t jive with our cultural obsession with the talented prodigy.”

Another observation was that having a routine guarantees you some down time. “Whether you’re doing yoga, listening to jazz or relaxing in the bath, making time for activities which aren’t too cognitively taxing allows your brain to shift gears.”

Gustave Flaubert said, “Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.

more sweat than lightening striking

A New Museum for Literary Greats in Chicago: The American Writers Museum

I’m writing this article based on an article by Karen Heller, dated June 23, that she published in The Washington Post. I’m quoting significantly from her but please read her original in The Post.

The American Writers Museum just opened in Chicago. It is the brainchild of Malcolm O’Hagan, 77, an Irishman who had the idea for this museum about eight years ago. It’s “a very visual place, a social environment where people interact.” There is a reading room for children and another for adults, play tables with catchy graphics that purport to go inside the mind of the writer and the use of music and film to make some points. Scents highlight the work of M.F.K. Fisher (strawberry jam) and James Beard (onions). On display are a pair of vintage Royal typewriters that invite visitors to type and create a story.

Writers’ room

There are 11,000 square feet of galleries. The museum cost almost $10 million to get off the ground, an amount that includes substantial funding from the Washington D.C. co-founders and friends. The founders chose not to use the donations to create a dazzling building. Rather, they are hoping that the museum grows in phases with a permanent building later, or perhaps not.

Featured writers

The founder is an Irishman who was reared in Yeates country. Mr. O’Hagan emigrated to the U.S. in 1968. “Growing up in Ireland, I loved the American writers—Steinbeck, Fitzgerald, Hemingway—that made me love America.” Co-founder Lawyer Werner Hein, 74, grew up in Germany after the War and noted that America caught his imagination through the works of James Fenimore Cooper, Mark Twain, and Hemingway. Hein and O’Hagan met in Washington D.C. where they are members of a writing club. They noted that there is no place in America that specifically honors the nation’s authors. The third co-founder is business executive Jay Hammer, 62, and also a book club colleague.

Mr. O’Hagan

All three grappled with where to put this museum. Chicago has a fine tradition of writers and is in the center to the country. It’s the original home of Hemingway. The Director of Operations, Christopher Burrow, noted that “books can be kind of stale. We’re trying to bring them back to life.”

The Writers Hall honors 100 “significant” writers of fiction and non-fiction. They’ve tried to include diversity, women, and varied styles. Honors have been bestowed on Tupac Shakur, Julie Child, Richard Pryor and Herman Melville among the many others. So, Chicago is now home to a “dream born of Mr. O’Hagan’s Irish ardor for the American language and the written word.” The next project:  Turning the restrooms into additional gallery space while still keeping them functioning as bathrooms.

So if in Chicago, check it out. It looks very intriguing to me.

Vintage typewriters

Ms. Keller is a national General Features writer for Style. You can follow her on Twitter   @kheller.

 

 

 

Hemingway’s Last Home in Ketchum, Idaho

The house on a Hill: Hemingway’s home

Hemingway owned a house in Ketchum, Idaho at the time of his death.  He killed himself there and he was buried in Ketchum. He lived simply in that home with few adornments.

The ownership of the house after his death was gifted by his wife, Mary, to the Nature Conservancy.  It was a modest two story 2,500 square foot house which he loved.  The Nature Conservancy just transferred the house as a gift to the Community Library, a privately funded public library.  The library has indicated that an apartment in the house will be renovated for a residency program for visiting writers, scholars and artists.  The house still has many of Hemingway’s personal possessions and some will be put on display at the Sun Valley Museum of History.

Interior

Hemingway owned the house from April 1959 until his death, July 1961, at the age of 61.  The house was given by Mary Hemingway to the Nature Conservancy with the restriction that it was precluded from operating as a public museum.  The Nature Conservancy used the house as a field office before outgrowing it.  The property is 13.9 acres and while the property is worth millions, the house is “small and outdated compared with the mega mansions common in the area.”

Grave

The Carr Foundation supplied the money to make the purchase of the Hemingway house by the Community Library possible.  It appears that philanthropist Gregory Carr, who was born in Idaho and owns a home in the Ketchum area, made the donation.  Jenny Emery Davidson, who is the executive director of the library, noted that “people are interested in Hemingway but the people who have stepped up so far are people who care about Idaho.”  She also said the house is a perfect fit for the library, which has a regional history division, and is keen to promote the area’s literary icon.  The house will not be open to the public like Hemingway’s other homes in Key West and Havana, but there will be some access. (At this time people cannot enter the house in Havana but can view it from the outside.  It’s being restored and it is unclear if there will be access to the interior in time.)

Hem and Mary

Davidson noted that “we plan to treat it as a home.  Sometimes people invite small groups of people to their home.”

So time moves on but Ketchum, Idaho maintains its love and respect for the Hemingway property.

Hem’s view while writing

Praying for Hemingway, by Augustine Himmel

Guest Post by Augustine Himmel: Very thought provoking. Augustine details his personal journey through Hemingway study. I added a few photos.

working

 Best, Christine

Praying for Hemingway

Augustine Himmel
July 01, 2017
In graduate school, a friend and I, both Hemingway aficionados, would try to stump each other by quoting lines from the famous writer’s fiction. I had a bit of an advantage because I was a few years older than my rival and had already taught Hemingway to high school students. And so, familiar with even obscure works like “A Man of the World,” which adolescents enjoyed, I never lost one of our good-natured contests. Yet despite my devotion to the Nobel Laureate, I never thought two decades later I’d be praying for his soul.

My devotion influenced my first published story, “The Man Who Thought He Was Hemingway,” and the summer after graduate school another friend and I made a pilgrimage to northern Michigan, retracing the steps young Ernest would have taken when vacationing with his family. We went to Walloon Lake in Petoskey, to Horton Bay where he loved to fish, and then on to the Upper Peninsula, to Seney and the nearby Fox, a.k.a. “Big Two-Hearted” River. After visiting Hemingway shrines during the day we would spend our evenings in the local taverns, and then around 2:30 a.m., back in the tent while my poor friend tried to sleep, I would turn on a flashlight and read Hemingway stories aloud as if they were Compline.

Michigan with Gregory

I was not Catholic then and had never heard of Compline; I did not know the Scripture verses prayed at night were selected by the church to encourage peace in the soul. Yet in my own fumbling way I sought this peace through what I was reading. And to some extent, I succeeded. For it is impossible to encounter the best of Hemingway’s stories, “Indian Camp” or “Now I Lay Me,” “The Undefeated” or “In Another Country,” without being soothed by their transcendence. Fiction is not divinely inspired, but Ralph Ellison thought so much of “In Another Country” he could recite its opening paragraph verbatim.

Pauline giving haircut

A few years after that pilgrimage I converted to Catholicism, and as I tried to move closer to God I found myself moving away from Hemingway. For a long time, before, during and after graduate school, I did not have any faith—in spite of having been blessed with a solid Lutheran upbringing. In retrospect I partially blamed the man who, in The Sun Also Rises, taught me “a bottle of wine was good company.” I knew my atheism had been a response to my mother’s rheumatoid arthritis, which struck her at 55 and turned her into an old woman overnight. I had watched her exhaustingly take care of her own mother, afflicted with the same disease, and the irony of my mother’s suffering, commencing just a year after my grandmother’s death, could not be reconciled with a loving God.
Still, hadn’t Hemingway also played a role? In addition to the lousy example he set as a hard-drinking womanizer, hadn’t he, in “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place,” penned the nihilistic and blasphemous lines of the old waiter? They are as sharp and clear as anything he ever wrote:

It was all a nothing and a man was nothing too. It was only that and light was all it needed and a certain cleanness and order. Some lived in it and never felt it but he knew it all was nada y pues nada y nada y pues nada. Our nada who art in nada, nada be thy name thy kingdom nada thy will be nada in nada as it is in nada. Give us this nada our daily nada and nadaus ournada as we nada our nadas and nada us not into nada but deliver us from nada; pues nada. Hail nothing full of nothing, nothing is with thee.

As a writer, I understood a character’s words and actions cannot be ascribed to their author. The old waiter is a fictional invention. He is not Hemingway any more than the Misfit in “A Good Man is Hard to Find” is Flannery O’Connor—even if the Misfit’s lament, “I can’t make what all I done wrong fit what all I gone through in punishment,” might well have been echoed by O’Connor or my mother and grandmother. More importantly, the old waiter’s insomnia could be viewed as resulting from his nihilism, and a reader could interpret the tale as a condemnation of that philosophy. Nonetheless, those lines from “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place” haunted me. I felt guilty for having taught that story to impressionable students.

Swimming with Pauline

So I avoided Hemingway like the other fishermen avoid Santiago in The Old Man and the Sea. Now, however, roughly a decade later, I realize I did so out of ignorance. I had bought into the myth of Hemingway propagated by our culture and, indeed, many of his biographers, rather than the truth revealed in his life and work. Far from being a nihilist, he had an interest in Catholicism even before his 1927 marriage to Pauline, and though he practiced the faith imperfectly, to say the least—four wives, several affairs—it always remained important to him and permeates much of his fiction. Santiago, after all, means St. James, and in 1954 Hemingway formally presented his Nobel Prize Medal to Our Lady of Charity, the Patroness of Cuba.

Yet I do not pray for Hemingway because he was Catholic, but rather because through his writing he has been a friend of mine, and in 1961, two years before I was born, he put the twin barrels of a shotgun against his forehead and committed suicide. He had received electro-shock treatments to combat depression, and these, combined with the serious concussions he had previously suffered, left him unable to think clearly, much less pursue the craft for which he won the Nobel. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that psychological factors like this can mitigate one’s culpability. Furthermore, it says: “We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. The Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives” (No. 2283).

Pauline and HEm

In short, there is hope for Ernest Hemingway, for all suicides, and this hope is rooted in God’s timelessness as well as his mercy. Our prayers are effective because everything stands before God in an ever-present now. God has always known that I would offer prayers in 2017 for that terrible moment in 1961. He can, therefore, assign the grace of those prayers to Hemingway in that moment, in the final millisecond of life after the trigger was pulled. My petitions before God, even 56 years after Hemingway’s death, can foster a disposition of the writer’s soul that will lead to salvation.

Hem’s bedroom

Dorothy Day understood this and prayed frequently for suicides, and we should do the same. These are souls on the margins, spiritual outcasts in need of our compassion. We should have Masses said for them, pray the Rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet for them and offer up our trials so they may attain the beatific vision. And whether we are tied to them by kinship, friendship, admiration for their brilliant writing, or just the metaphysical bond of our shared humanity, we must trust in the boundless love of God whom we know “desires all men to be saved” (1 Tim 2:4).
More: Spirituality / Books

Augustine Himmel
Augustine Himmel’s stories have been published in the Beloit Fiction Journal, South Carolina Review, Long Story, Arizona Mandala and other publications. He is currently shopping around his literary novel, If I Needed You.

 

 

 

 

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Classics simplified for kids: Not so fast!

Those of you who follow this blog may recall my post about the simplification of some of the classics for children. As I mentioned, Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, among others was put into “simple” language.

This week, a federal judge ruled that the publisher of these popular kids’ versions are infringing on the copyrights of the famous novelists. The idea was to make literary classics accessible to children as young as six. However, the estates of four literary lions (Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, Kerouac’s On the Road, Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and Arthur Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey) joined Simon & Schuster and Penguin Random House in a suit after the publisher of the kiddy books refused earlier demands to stop publishing.

The ruling was clear that this was an infringement on the copyright holders’ rights to exercise control of the publication of their works. KinderGuide Books, the division of Moppet Books that published the child versions of the classic, plans to appeal the ruling by U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff.

Breakfast at Tiffanys

KinderGuide however is continuing to move forward in publishing children’s editions of Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice, Homer’s The Odyssey, as well as biographies of Steve Jobs and Oprah Winfrey. The publisher had originally planned to do child versions of 50 classic novels, but given the legal challenges it’s facing, it has already dropped plans to publish illustrated versions of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye. Catcher in the Rye was published (sort of) by KinderGuides’ co-founder Frederik Colting in 2009 when Colting published an unauthorized sequel to Catcher in the Rye in the United Kingdom entitled 60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye. In 2011, just before his death, J.D. Salinger obtained a court order blocking the book from ever being published in the U.S.

So for the moment, the simplification, or as some have called it, the “dumbing down” of these classics has been halted.

BELOW MY DECEMBER 2016 POST ABOUT  THIS

Four classics so far have been made child friendly by KinderGuides: On The Road, by Jack Kerouac; Breakfast at Tiffany’s, by Truman Capote; Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey—and Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. The stories have been dramatically abbreviated and have large, colorful illustrations. Among the next four classics to be published by KinderGuides are Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, and Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice. Bear in mind, these are being read to 6 to 12-year olds. On the Road, by Jack Kerouac, blessedly omits the drugs, prostitutes and wild parties.

Jack Kerouac
Jack Kerouac
Spencer Tracy as Santiago
Spencer Tracy as Santiago

Forbes just published an article by Frank Miniter entitled “A Startling Example of How the Politically Correct Currents Pull Strongly Toward Mediocrity.” It starts out asking if Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, actually can be watered down for young readers, noting that the great dumbing down of the American mind isn’t just underway, but has become a parody of itself.

The Old Man and the Sea
The Old Man and the Sea

The KinderGuides’ version of The Old Man and the Sea begins with, “Santiago is an old fisherman who lives in a small village by the sea, on an island called Cuba. Every day he takes his boat far out into the ocean to catch fish. But after 84 days of trolling, he hasn’t caught any fish at all. He is sad.”

Frank Miniter’s article notes further that The Old Man and the Sea is a concise novella as it is, exploring man’s struggle, not just with a fish, but with his mortality. The prose in the original is hardly difficult. The real Hemingway begins, “He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the gulfstream and he had gone eighty-four days now without a fish.” If the word ‘skiff’ is a new and challenging word, there is always the dictionary. At the Forbes article goes on to note, the theme of a man’s struggling, knowing his body is failing him and that inevitably he will be a tragic figure, but that nevertheless he must face his mortality with grace, regardless, is lost in the KinderGuides’ version.

Miniter writes, “Instead of raising children’s knowledge and understanding of these things, this is another example of watering down the education of our youth. Should great paintings also be simplified into cartoon characters? How about plays and music?”

FOOD FOR THOUGHT!!

Hemingway’s First Love

Hello! This is a sweet first love letter from Hemingway to a woman with no regrets: Read on for the article below. Best, Christine

Hemingway Letters Pining For High School Love Interest Found In Marblehead

Front and rear of an envelope addressed to Frances Coates from Ernest Hemingway in 1918. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)closemore

Ernest Hemingway, the legendary author and tortured Nobel laureate, is known for works like “A Farewell to Arms” and “The Old Man and The Sea.”

His image was that of a bold adventurer and world traveler. He was an avid big game hunter, often posing next to his prey in pictures.

There’s another — and perhaps more relatable — side to the legendary author, though. It’s one of an awkward teenage suitor trying desperately to impress a girl who captured his high school heart.

Her name was Frances Elizabeth Coates. She sang opera and went to the same Oak Park, Illinois high school Hemingway attended. He played cello at the time and was enamored by Coates and her love of art.

Coates’ granddaughter, Betsy Fermano, lives in Marblehead, Mass. She kept Hemingway’s letters to her grandmother since Coates’ death in 1988. She seals the letters in a quart-sized plastic bag and was keeping them in a trunk. She only recently started dropping them off in a vault at a nearby bank when she learned they could be of value. They’re slightly yellowed but in surprisingly good condition for papers that are essentially a century old.

Betsy Fermano opens a plastic bag containing letters from Ernest Hemingway to her grandmother Frances Elizabeth Coates. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Betsy Fermano opens a plastic bag containing letters from Ernest Hemingway to her grandmother Frances Elizabeth Coates. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

“I remember my grandmother telling me about these letters, and she was very embarrassed to talk about her relationship with Ernest Hemingway — or Ernie as she always called him,” says the retired fundraising and development executive. “Because they were really close friends … and I guess Ernie wasn’t with, so I’ve heard, a lot of women, and he was really close to my grandmother, to Frances, and they spent a lot of time together.”

Elder (A Hemingway Scholar) says the preservation of Hemingway’s letters is remarkable.

“Letters from that era — from 1918, 1919 — outside the family are extremely rare,” he explained. “It’s just his voice. He is just sort of free and flirtatious with her because he’s not writing to family.”

A portion of a letter written by Ernest Hemingway to Frances Coates in 1918. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

A portion of a letter written by Ernest Hemingway to Frances Coates in 1918. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

In the letters, a young Hemingway writes from Milan, Italy during World War I. We asked Fermano to read one of the letters Hemingway wrote from his hospital bed there in 1918 as he recovers from injuries suffered while volunteering as a wartime ambulance driver. He wrote:

“Dear Frances, you see, I can’t break the old habit of writing you whenever I get a million miles away from Oak Park. Milan is so hot that the proverbial hinges of hell would be like the beads of ice on the outside of a glass of Clicquot Club by comparison. However, it has a cathedral and a dead man, Leonardi Da Vinci and some very good-looking girls, and the best beer in the Allied countries.”

Elder said Hemingway seems to be “trying to make [Frances] jealous. He’s trying to say, ‘look at all these beautiful women around me,’ and then he’s bragging about trying beer, which would’ve been sort of the ultimate sign of rebellion, because he grew up in Oak Park, which was a town sort of founded on the temperance movement and was a dry town.”

Was Coates Hemingway’s First True Love?

Photograph of a young Ernest Hemingway and Frances Elizabeth Coates on a canoe trip. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Photograph of a young Ernest Hemingway and Frances Elizabeth Coates on a canoe trip. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

“Given some of the evidence here, I think Frances Coates cared for him, but he was squarely what we call in the ‘Friend Zone,’ so if it was his first love, it was very one-sided,” explains Elder.

It was, it appears, unrequited love, then. In fact, in a letter that Francis Coates wrote to a Hemingway biographer, she described her once close friend as awkward and sensitive.

Coates went on to marry a classmate named John Grace, a future railroad executive. But Elder says apparently Hemingway, who pined over Coates as teenager, never forgot Coates — and maybe never got over her because, in fact, her name appears as a character in some of his now classic novels.

“Hemingway was good at holding grudges, and this is not really a grudge, but she is certainly someone he never forgot,” Elder says.

Hemingway apparently references Frances as a character when he’s talking about her husband, in which he writes in his novel, “To Have and Have Not”:

“He’s probably a little too good for Frances, but it will be years before Frances realizes this. Perhaps she will never realize it with luck. [This type of man] is rarely also tapped for bed. But with a lovely girl like Frances, intention counts as much as performance.”

Woo! Elder says “whether or not that was directed at [Coates], Frances definitely saw herself in that — she wrote about it, calling it a wry scene.”

Coates didn’t forget Hemingway either.

She kept his high school portrait in a gold frame in her drawer, and all of the pictures he sent her in a small envelope. Some of those are now in Marblehead as well.

So, did Francis Coates ever regret letting go of the young writer she called Ernie who later became a larger-than-life author — but who also went on to four marriages and three divorces?

Well, a little scribble on the back of an envelope may help answer that question.

“Oh, this is what she says on this envelope, ‘Ernie’s pictures. And 25 years later, ooh! Am I glad I married John!’ ” Fermano reads, laughing.

A note written by Frances Coates on the back of an envelope containing photographs of Hemingway. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

 

 

More on Hemingway’s Brain and link to Findings of NFL Research on Concussion: Different take on it all

This is a long article but the points are interesting. Some of the formatting and photos of brain functioning could not be captured so my apologies.
As those of you who follow this blog know, Hemingway was outrageously accident prone–from a young age even before you could blame it on drinking: sky lights falling on him; car accidents when he was not driving; 2 plane crashes when he was a passenger. No question, with what we know now, these episodes could well have affected his ultimate health and functioning. Please read what you have time for. This was published in the Washington Post, writer Avi Selk.
Best wishes, Christine
April 28 at 8:30 AM

In one of Ernest Hemingway’s first published stories, a man goes into the woods and meets a disfigured prizefighter — insightful, though prone to fits of paranoia and violence.

“You’re all right,” says the visitor after they’ve chatted a while.

“No, I’m not. I’m crazy,” the fighter says. “Listen, you ever been crazy?”

“No. How does it get you?”

“I don’t know. When you got it you don’t know about it.”

Nearly a century after “The Battler” was written, psychiatrist Andrew Farah contends, we would recognize that the prizefighter suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE — the same concussion-induced brain disease now infamous in sports, particularly professional football.

And the prizefighter’s renowned author had CTE, too, Farah argues in his new book, “Hemingway’s Brain.”

The psychiatrist from High Point University in North Carolina writes of nine serious blows to Hemingway’s head — from explosions to a plane crash — that were a prelude to his decline into abusive rages, “paranoia with specific and elaborate delusions” and the final violence of his suicide in 1961.

Hemingway’s bizarre behavior in his latter years (he rehearsed his death by gunshot in front of dinner guests, for example) has been blamed on iron deficiency, bipolar disorder, attention-seeking and any number of other problems.

After researching the writer’s letters, books and hospital visits, Farah is convinced that Hemingway had dementia — made worse by alcoholism and other maladies, but dominated by CTE, the improper treatment of which likely hastened his death.

“He truly is a textbook case,” Farah told The Washington Post. “His biography makes perfect sense to me in the context of multiple brain injuries.”

Farah is not the only person to make the link. A shorter discussion of head trauma in Paul Hendrickson’s biography, “Hemingway’s Boat,” convinced a reviewer that the famous writer “was probably suffering from organic brain damage.”

But Farah’s book goes deeper, mixing biography, literature and medical analysis in what he writes is “a forensic psychiatric examination of his very brain cells — the stressors, traumas, chemical insults, and biological changes — that killed a world-famous literary genius.”

Farah dates Hemingway’s first known concussion to World War I, several years before he wrote his short story, “The Battler.”

A bomb exploded about three feet from his teenage frame.

Another likely concussion came in 1928, when Hemingway yanked what he thought was a toilet chain and brought a skylight crashing down on him — causing what Farah describes as “giddy concussive ramblings … about his own blood’s smell and taste.”

Then came a car accident in London — then more injuries as a reporter during World War II, when a German antitank gun blew Hemingway into a ditch.

The psychiatrist describes his reported symptoms: double vision, memory trouble, slowed thought. And headaches that “used to come in flashes like battery fire,” Hemingway wrote in a letter.

“There was a main permanent one all the time. I nicknamed it the MLR 2(main line of resistance) and just accepted that I had it.”

These were “classic and typical” symptoms of head trauma, Farah writes.

And not the last Hemingway would suffer.

After the war: another car accident. Then a fall on his boat “Pilar,” two years before he published “The Old Man and the Sea,” which a book reviewer called Hemingway’s “last generally admired book.”

Farah did not include in his list of concussions Hemingway’s flirtations with boxing, or accounts of head injuries he could not verify or which he suspected were the author’s tall tales.

But by the time Hemingway survived two consecutive plane crashes on a 1954 safari trip — escaping the second wreck by “batter[ing] open the jammed door with his head,” Farah writes — his remarkable brain was beyond repair.

“The injuries from earlier blows resolved, but, with additional assaults, his brain developed CTE,” Farah writes.

Often — though not always — caused by concussions, chronic traumatic encephalopathy is a degenerative brain disease that can manifest as memory loss, anger, dementia and suicidal behavior — usually decades after the head blow, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

What is a concussion?

 

Play Video0:31
This video from the CDC illustrates and explains the science behind a concussion and the importance of recovery time for the human brain. (CDC via YouTube)

Unknown in Hemingway’s day, it has been found in the brains of at least 17 dead athletes, and researchers will look for it in the brain of Aaron Hernandez, a former NFL star who killed himself in prison last week while serving a murder sentence.

 

Less bizarre but perhaps more devastating to the author: his deteriorating ability to arrange words.

“The genius who had written masterpieces such as ‘A Farewell to Arms’ and ‘The Snows of Kilimanjaro’ was now paralyzed, fully in the grip of a severe mental illness” as he struggled to assemble simple sentences for his memoirs in 1961, Farah writes.

“Only an autopsy can put the 100 percent stamp of approval” on a diagnosis, Farah acknowledged to The Post. But he didn’t back down from his conclusions in the book. “The symptoms are just so obvious,” he said.

CTE accounted for about three-quarters of Hemingway’s dementia, Farah said. “The concussions, alcohol, hypertension, and pre-diabetes all contributed to the changes in Hemingway’s brain,” he writes in his book.

And a long history of suicide in Hemingway’s family couldn’t have helped the author cope with his condition, Farah said.

But he is sure that by the end of his life, Hemingway had concussion-driven dementia, not psychotic depression as his doctors believed — to tragic consequences, he writes.

But depression was not Hemingway’s main problem, Farah argues. The traumas and resulting CTE had physically changed his brain — demented and weakened it.

After a round of shock treatments in early 1961, Farah writes, Hemingway “grew more and more abusive to” his wife, “berating her because of his paranoia.”

She and some friends had to physically restrain Hemingway from shooting himself that April.

He went back to the hospital for more shock treatments.

A few days after being discharged a second time, on July 2, 1961, Hemingway woke before sunrise. He fetched his shotgun from the basement, this time with no one to stop him.

All his vulnerabilities coalesced in one final instant,” as Farah puts it.

Had he lived in the 21st century, Farah writes, Hemingway would have had an MRI scan, which might have revealed his much-abused brain was shrinking.

He would have been sent to a therapist, and told to stop drinking, to focus on his health, and “remind himself he is safe.”

He likely would have been prescribed antidepressants and vitamin B pills, and kept clear of stresses such as electric current.

Modern medicine could have saved Hemingway’s life, Farah said.

Even if not: “We would have at least understood him.”

“Hemingway’s Brain” by Andrew Farah was published in April 2017 by the University of South Carolina Press.

Hemingway’s 100 year anniversary (from High School graduation)

Young man with all of it ahead

On Saturday, June 24th, the Hemingway Foundation in Oak Park, Illinois, hosted a party to celebrate Hemingway’s graduation from high school in 1917 – 100 years ago – from Oak Park and River Forest High School.  The Foundation provided some jazz, some spoken word performances, a silent auction, and cocktails.  It has long been debated what Hemingway’s favorite drink was.  Contenders are a daquiri, a mojito, a bloody mary, and the ever-popular martini.  Solid authority supports a dry, very cold martini as his favorite. 

super cold martini
Graduation

 The Foundation also introduced their second annual publication of a collection of short stories called Hemingway Shorts, by rising writers.  The Hemingway Foundation chairman, John Barry, presented several lesser known facts about Hemingway.  If you read this blog regularly these will not be lesser known to you but bear with them. 

Intense writer

 

  1. Hemingway suffered several concussions.  There was the shell explosion in World War I, the skylight handle in Paris he mistakenly pulled which brought the window down to crash over his head leaving him with a lifelong scar that is very visible in his photos (no, he wasn’t drunk at the time!), and two plane crashes, the second of which caused the press to believe he was dead. 
Scar on left side (right as you view this)
wounded again

 2. While he was born in Oak Park, he counted downtown Chicago and Upper Michigan as home.  He honeymooned with his first wife, Hadley Richardson, in Upper Michigan on Lake Walloon, and after the war moved to Chicago for several months. 

 

 3. He burnt the candle at both ends.  Hemingway stayed up late but got up early.  His usual habit when he was writing well was to get up early and work until the early afternoon.  He’d then take a swim, go out on the Pilar, his boat, and relax with friends.  While working on a book he was very disciplined.   

Almost married to Hadley

 

  1. He wrote/typed standing up.  Due to the leg injury from shrapnel in World War I, he was more comfortable standing than sitting when working.  After the plane crashes, it was even more common for him to write while standing. 
Standing and Writing
Hem Standing
  1. He knew a fair amount about loss and starting over.  When Hemingway was married to Hadley and they were living in Paris, he was reporting for the Toronto Star.  He had been assigned to cover the Conference of Lausanne being held in Switzerland.  While there, he thought he could do some work as well as share some of his work with other journalists who might be interested.  He sent a telegram to Hadley asking that she bring some of his work.  She put all of his manuscripts in a suitcase along with the carbon copies.  Once on the train, she stepped off to buy a bottle of water and when she returned the suitcase had been stolen.  It was more than a year and a half’s work and all that was left were two short stories that were in the back of a drawer at home.  Scholars have debated whether it actually served Hemingway well to have to begin again and helped him perfect the lean style for which he is known or if it’s a huge loss to the history of his evolving style.  If anyone finds them…He did forgive Hadley, but it remained a sore spot for a long time. 
Hem, Hadley, Bumby skiing in Europe

So happy 100th anniversary of high school graduation of Ernest Hemingway.