Hello Hemingway readers and fans! Every four months, I post my opening post for those just joining in. For those who stop in regularly, I sincerely and truly thank you for reading and for being interested in Hemingway 55 years after his death and 117 years after his birth. So here is my opening post to acclimate you to what will be happening here.
Love and thank you, Christine
There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” ― Ernest Hemingway
What Will Be Happening Here?
This will be a place to talk Hemingway and any topics related to him and his life. That gives us a lot of material: writing, Paris, divorce, relationships, Key West, Cuba, Idaho, fishing, boats, bulls, boxing, cats, horses, dogs, the Midwest, movies, other writers. Anything else? Oh right, drinking, awards, depression, friends, cruelty, generosity. Heard enough? Well, there’s still politics, women, religion, Fidel Castro, Gary Cooper, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Africa. Done yet? Uh, no. we’ve still got mothers, hair, sexual ambiguity, sons, daughters, actresses, sex, suicide, death, clothes, honor, hygiene, the IRS, psychiatrists.
And what would Papa say about a blog? Hmm, well, if I wanted to pull a page from Woody Allen, I’d say that he’d say: No subject is terrible if the story is true, if the prose is clean and honest, and if it affirms courage and grace under pressure. He was a journalist first and foremost and he kept up with the times so I think he’d be amused.
So what qualifies me to write this blog? Not too much that’s going to impress you. All I can say is that I love him, just as he was, flawed and fabulous, mean-spirited bully and most gracious of men, driven wordsmith and drunken raconteur, bigot and egalitarian, all of it. I’m no scholar. I’ll leave that to Timeless Hemingway, www.timelesshemingway.com, which does a superb job and is an unparalleled resource. However, I’ve read them all many times: the books, the short stories, the analyses, the biographies, the women, even the Hemingway cookbook which I actually cook from (the trout is delicious). I’m just an obsessed fan, uncluttered by the need to be neutral. I hope to learn from you too.
Finally, I find him fascinating, complex, and yes, manly but I think he actually “got” quite a bit about women contrary to popular myth. That’s a topic for another day. Also a topic for another day is why the mask above on the lovely woman. Also a topic for another day is what do we call him in this blog? Ernest, Ernesto, Wemedge, Nesto, Ernie, Oinbones,Papa, Tatie, Hem, Hemingstein, Hems, or just plain Hemingway? We’ll see. Perhaps we’ll put it to a vote. I have a Hemingway party on his birthday every year (July 21) and I’ll take a poll there too and let you know the results.
Of course, none of my friends “get” it and think Hemingway was that guy who wrote in short sentences and wanted to fight with everyone and run with the bulls. They are partially right and mostly wrong. But hey, you can’t throw away old friends just because they don’t really read or have an informed opinion about Hemingway–or can you?
These posts will be short and fun (I hope). I try to post at least every two weeks. I hope it’s enjoyable for Hemingway people as well as for casual observers. I’ve looked at the other blogs about Hemingway. Most are terrific but there still is room for a lighter take and for the unending discussion about why we continue to read him fifty-four years after his death. And if you have to ask . . .
Check me out when you have a chance. It’s going to be one hell of a ride.
Wonderful idea! Vets with writing skills perfect their techniques at a writing conference/retreat at the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and educational Center. Please read about it below as we near Veterans Day. Love, Christine
Military Veterans Attend HPMEC Writing Retreat
PIGGOTT, Ark. — Nine talented writers came together recently to hone their skills and to form a community in Northeast Arkansas at the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum & Educational Center (HPMEC) writing retreat for military veterans.
The weekend retreat, held at the site where Ernest Hemingway penned much of his iconic war novel A Farewell to Arms, was funded through a partnership with the Arkansas Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Dr. Rob Lamm, professor of English at Arkansas State, served as mentor for the retreat. A mentor at other HPMEC retreats, Lamm said, “These are very special people-veterans from many branches of service who share a love of literature. Ernest Hemingway would have been impressed by their writing talents.
“Even more, he would admire their courage, as some chose to revisit the drama and trauma of their experiences by writing memoirs, fiction and poetry. Courage was the unstated, yet ever-present theme, of the retreat. Some writers recalled battles we associate with war. Others wrote of battles for social acceptance and struggles with personal demons.”
Writers began each day with exercises to get started, often looking at samples of Hemingway’s writing as models for their own. They enjoyed lunch together at the educational center and ended the afternoon with a group meeting to reflect, share and discuss the processes used by each writer.
Between formal meetings, the writers had time to work individually, often in the same rooms where Hemingway wrote. The format allowed writers time to focus on their own creative interests, to receive feedback on their work and to form relationships with other writers.
Writers’ retreats for general audiences are held twice annually at the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum in Piggott. The next retreat is scheduled for Monday through Friday, Nov. 7-11, with Andrea Hollander of Portland, Ore., serving as mentor. Contact the museum for more information at (870) 598-3487 or email HPMEC director Dr. Adam Long, at email@example.com.
A bit of literary trivia starting with, of course, Ernest Hemingway.
Hemingway hated the cover art for The Great Gatsby. When Scott Fitzgerald showed the copy of The Great Gatsby to Hemingway, he did not like it at all. Fitzgerald told him not to be put off by it, “It had to do with a billboard along a highway in Long Island that was important to the story.” Apparently Fitzgerald told Hemingway that he, Fitzgerald, had initially liked the jacket, but now he didn’t. Hemingway wrote about this anecdote in A Moveable Feast.
Nancy Drew author Carolyn Keene wrote under a pseudonym. The books were actually ghost written by a number of authors and published under the collective pseudonym ‘Carolyn Keene’.
Louis May Alcott refused—despite public hunger—to have her heroine Jo March marry Laurie, the neighbor who was in love with her. Instead, she married Jo to Professor Bhaer and Laurie ended up with her sister Amy.
Emily Brontë only published one novel, i.e. Wuthering Heights. Brontë died at the age of 30 a year before the book’s publication so she was not around to see its success.
Jane Austin’s works were all published anonymously. Her first novel, Sense and Sensibility was published under the name “By A Lady.” Her next novel, Pride and Prejudice was labeled “By the Author of Sense and Sensibility”. It wasn’t until after her death that her brother revealed her name to the public.
J.R.R. Tolkien’s first name stands for John Ronald Reuel.
Vladimir Nabokov wrote Lolita on notecards. According to Life Magazine, the Russian author wrote most of his novels on 3 x 5 notecards and kept blank ones under his pillow whenever inspiration hit.
George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four was almost called “The Last Man in Europe.” The British author took awhile to name his 1949 dystopian novel. He also had trouble deciding what year to set the story and considered 1980 and 1982.
The monster in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein has no name. The monster from the 1818 gothic horror is referenced as “wretch, demon, and monster” among others. In the book, Frankenstein is the name of the young scientist.
John Steinbeck is credited with giving Route 66 its nickname. “66 is the mother road, the road of flight” John Steinbeck described in his Pulitzer prize-winning Grapes of Wrath.
William Golding had a hard time publishing TheLord of the Flies. According to Golding’s daughter, Judy Carver, “My earliest memory is not of the book itself, but of a lot of parcels coming back and being sent off again very quickly. He must have been grief stricken every time it returned.”
Starbucks coffee is named after a main character in Moby-Dick. The Seattle founded coffeehouse considered Pequod (Captain Ahab’s whaling ship) before settling on Starbucks a play on the Pequod’s chief mate Starbuck.
The penname Dr. Seuss was a way to escape punishment in college. After getting caught drinking in his room, Theodore Seuss Geisel was banned from the school’s newspaper and other activities. To continue writing, he started using the penname Seuss.
No one defined masculinity more thoroughly than Ernest Hemingway, particularly in his best years, i.e. the 30’s and 40’s. I just read a review of a new book out by Lesley M. M. Blume, called “Everybody Behaves Badly: The True Story Behind Hemingway’s Masterpiece, The Sun Also Rises.”
I always liked that quote from The Sun Also Rises. Maybe it’s just cynicism, but I prefer to think that it’s realism. The end of that quote is “Everyone behaves badly—given the chance.”
In addition to discussing the real life people upon whom the characters in the book are based, Ms. Blume’s book discusses the issue of sexuality in “The Sun Also Rises” as well as in Hemingway’s posthumously published 1986 novel, The Garden of Eden with its gender-bending main characters well ahead of their time. Hemingway was “one of the last authors to be a celebrity in his own right, back when ‘manly’ was a good thing.
Lesley Blume with Valerie Hemingway
The book attempts to answer the question of whether Hemingway’s persona of hyper-masculinity was real or fake and notes that “we haven’t solved the problem of how to be a man in the modern age and Hemingway was a caricature of the last generation’s attempt to do so, as Donald Trump may be of ours.” We no longer admire—thank God and for good reason—killing large animals in Africa or watching them die in bull fights. The concept of masculinity is complex and evolving.
Parenthetically, I highly recommend watching the documentary called The True Gen. It’s about Hemingway’s friendship with Gary Cooper. Gary Cooper apparently was always a gentlemen and Hemingway…wasn’t always restrained. Yet, somehow they had an extremely strong friendship that lasted for a lifetime—which was a rarity for Hemingway—with Cooper at times forcing Hemingway to stop with the image and be real. Despite personalities that were almost polar opposites, both worked hard, were more sensitive that you might suspect, and hid parts of themselves for the image each wanted to project. It worked for them. The movie is a gem and is well worth watching.I found it extremely touching. Cooper and Hemingway died 6 weeks apart: Cooper of cancer and shortly thereafter, Hemingway killed himself.
So the book by Lesley Blume sounds valuable and additive to Hemingway analysis. She knows the period well and I expect the book will ring true and be a load of fun to read.
I just read an article about writers who make themselves physically uncomfortable—perhaps consciously or unconsciously—as a spark to their creative juices. I wrote a blog post a couple of months ago about the strange writing habits of some writers and this is a variation on that theme. Below I will give you the cite for the whole article, but here are a couple of interesting points.
Some writers do all of their drafts in the font Courier for the “brutally utilitarian shape of its letters and mono spaced characters marching across the page.” Somehow they feel that when it gets transformed into New Times Roman or Arial in the final version, it looks vastly better and more professional and feels polished compared to the draft.
As you all know if you follow this blog, Hemingway often wrote standing up. This was in part due to pain from the plane crashes and in part, he liked it. However, just as often, I see photos of him working at a large rustic table or at his dining room table.
3 Vladimir Nabakov liked to write in his car, hopefully while parked.
Friedrich Schiller kept a bunch of rotting apples in his desk that filled the room with “eye watering stench.”
Wallace Stevens jotted lines on to scraps of paper while working.
Walter Scott wrote while on horseback. This is puzzling.
Victor Hugo hid all his clothes save for a grey shawl to prevent himself from leaving the home until he was done meeting his writing requirements.
Balzac drank 50 cups of coffee a day. I would think that would make him get up and down an awful lot.
Truman Capote “couldn’t think unless he was lying down and described himself as a completely horizontal author”.
The theory is that discomfort promotes creativity. I’m not sure.
Do you have any weird habits? I feel lucky if I can sit down in front of a fire with the dogs and just write. A glass of wine is welcome, but optional.
A bit surreal. Kim says she is like Hemingway as he kept a strict record of his weight daily (Hemingway wrote it on the door jam) and she too (gasp!) does the same! There is even a video of her tour with sister Kourtney into the Finca Vigia. Okay, it’s Sunday so I’m going on the light side today.
I missed the Democratic convention last night but my friend, Barbara, alerted me to VP Joe Biden’s citing of Hemingway (Quote from A Farewell to Arms) when talking about the challenges and love in his own life. Just an excerpt in reference to the tragic death of his son Beau.
“Thank you. His wife and his two kids are here tonight. As Ernest Hemingway once wrote, “The world breaks everyone, and afterwards, many are strong in the broken places.”
I’ve been made strong at the broken places by my love with Jill, by my heart and son Hunter and the love of my life, my Ashley. By all of you, and I mean this sincerely, those who have been through this, you know I mean what I say — by all of you, your love and prayers and support. But you know what, we talk about, we think about the countless thousands of other people who suffered so much more than we have, with so much less support. So much less reason to go on. But they get up every morning, every day. They put one foot in front of the other, they keep going. That is the unbreakable spirit of the people of America. That is who we are. That is who we are. Don’t forget it.”
Stafford’s Perry Hotel in Petoskey is hosting the second annual Ernest Hemingway Birthday Celebration.
Hemingway fans will celebrate the beloved Northern Michigan author’s birthday at Stafford’s Perry Hotel in Petoskey during the second annual Ernest Hemingway Birthday Celebration Thursday, July 21.
The evening starts at 6 p.m. and will feature an exclusive screening of the first rough cut of the new television documentary Young Hemingway: Finding His Muse in Northern Michigan by writer-producer George Colburn.
Local singer, Robin Lee Berry, will perform the documentary’s theme song which offers readings from Hemingway’s private letters featured in the documentary. Brian Kozminski, who portrays Hemingway in the documentary’s fishing scenes, will offer commentary on the Northern Michigan fishing scene that captivated Ernest Hemingway.
“Hemingway’s presence is a unique part of Northern Michigan’s history and we are excited to be celebrating him at the Perry Hotel for the secondyear in a row,” says Becky Babcock, marketing director for Stafford’s Hospitality. “His connection to the Perry Hotel makes this the perfect venue for the event, and we look forward to carrying it on as a tradition in the years to come.”
Guests will dine with Hemingway historians and enjoy a five-course Hemingway inspired dinner. The menu (see below) is tantalizing.
Tickets for the Hemingway Birthday Celebration cost $50 per person. A portion of the proceeds will benefit The Young Hemingway Documentary Project.
This MyNorth Media video features Paula McLain, New York Times bestselling author of The Paris Wife—a novel about Ernest Hemingway’s first wife—reading a postcard Hemingway wrote from a hospital bed in Italy.
My friend, George, cued me into this podcast. I just listened to it and loved it. Hotchner talks about his times with Hemingway, Hadley, bullfights, and the essence of Hemingway. It’s just wonderful. It’s about a half hour and if you are interested in Hemingway and someone who knew him well for 13 years to the very end, here you go! Enjoy! And Thank you, George!
I don’t commemorate Hemingway’s Death for obvious reasons. I have a party on his birthday later this month. However, I will reprint an article below that I enjoyed written at the time of his death by Sidney Feingold for the Daily News. It was published the day after his death on July 3, 1961. It’s long but please read what you wish.
Ernest Miller Hemingway gloried in toughness. He shrugged off brushes with death as being part of life. He counted his many wounds proudly. He lived it up boisterously and sneered at those who did not.
And he wrote about it all, earning a bankful of the world’s prizes for literature.
That he died by the gun was fitting. A man who had dared death to seek him out in three wars and on countless safaris in the wilds of Africa was not meant to die in bed or of old age.
Nobel Winner in ’54
Hemingway knew hospitals as baseball players know rival stadiums. He looked at them with the same competitive eye of winning.
Many considered him the greatest living American novelist and short-story writer. Hemingway – who did not exactly dispute their judgement – did indeed have the Pulitzer Prize for fiction (1953) and the Nobel Prize for literature (1954) to support their view.
Hemingway probably did more to influence the world’s literature than any other modern American writer. He worked hard at it. He would rewrite a page half a hundred times or more to get exactly what he wanted.
1 | 3New York Daily News published this on July 1, 1961.(New York Daily News)
He considered writing a job and a tough one and once noted: “Nobody but fools ever thought it was an easy trade.”
What he wrote about he knew. He was a master of writing the way people thought and talked and acted. He recognized that a braggart might also be a legitimate hero. Bullfighting was one of his favorite sports and he was considered an expert. He was pretty much an expert on danger, drinking and women, too.
Women, however, were probably the least dangerous of Hemingway’s pursuits, though he did get married four times and survived three divorces.
Began on Newspaper
Hemingway, a burly, barrel-chested, shaggy man with a good head of hair and a stubbly beard – both turning white – began as a newspaperman and his later work showed it. Scores of writers emulated his concise, short, expressive prose style. He used cuss words when he thought that was the best way to express himself.
Few critics criticized his style, though many assailed the hard-living philosophy he wore through his novels,
The critics looked for significance in Hemingway and they all found it – sometimes to his amusement.
Matter of Interpretation
They found all manner of meanings, for example, in one of his more recent novels, “The Old Man and the Sea (which followed by a Pulitzer Prize the next year and the Nobel Prize the year after).
It was a simply told story of victory and defeat, the tale of an aged fisherman’s long, agonizing struggle to land the gigantic marlin that would cap his long, hard life. He catches it, but sharks nibble away on the fish before he can bring it to shore. Finally, there is just skeleton left.
Critics had a field day delving into the deeper meanings of the story, but Hemingway would not admit there was any symbolism involved. Since the critics were having so much fun explaining it all, he said, why interfere?
Hunted With Dad
Hemingway was born on July 21, 1899, one of six children of an Oak Park, Ill., physician. Much of his boyhood was spent in Michigan. There he took to the outdoor life, including long hunting trips with his father. Hunting was to remain his steadfast love.
His father, Dr, Clarence Hemingway, committed suicide with a shotgun. Like the author, he had hypertension and incipient diabetes.
In high school, Hemingway played football and boxed. After graduation, he joined the Kansas City Star as a cub reporter, but soon after sailed to Italy to become an ambulance driver at the front in World War I.
He got two decorations, an aluminum kneecap, 247 wounds (by his own count) from mortar bursts, and a wealth of material for the novels which were to bring him world fame.
He shrugged off the medals, saying he got one for being an American and the other by accident. But from his experience he was to write what he himself considered one of the best war scenes ever described – the Italian retreat from Caporetto, which appeared in his classic novel of war and love, “A Farewell to Arms.”
Gertrude Stein Influence
He bounced around Europe after the war and was one of the young American writer influenced by the late Gertrude Stein, who was then holding court in Paris and displaying an astounding new technique at poetry to bemused world.
Hemingway’s first major published work was a short story collection, “In Our Time,” 1924.
Two years later, his first major novel, “The Sun Also Rises” – the story of an emasculated war veteran’s hopeless love – began his push into the literary world.
The pattern of much of his later writing – a bruising, brawling, drinking, dangerous life; deep and often frustrated love, a hero who bears the scars of war – was emerging.
Writer is Established
“Men Without Women,” also a collection of short stories, came out the next year.
In 1929, “A Farewell to Arms” was published and there was no doubt left that here was a major young American writer.
By that time, he had already married twice, first to Hadley Richardson (in 1921) and next to Pauline Pfieffer (in 1927). Both marriages ended in divorce, as did his third, in 1940, to writer Martha Gellhorn.
When he wasn’t writing, he tried fighting bulls in Spain and boxers in the ring. Even at advanced middle age, he reveled in his hard body (6 feet, 200 pounds) and liked to punch his friends in the stomach and be punched in return, to show everyone that he was still in shape.
He wrote “Death in the Afternoon,” a saga of bullfighters and the bull ring, in 1932; “Winner Take Nothing,” a collection of short stories, in 1933; “The Green Hills of Africa,” in 1935, and “To Have and Have Not,” a novel of smuggling and death in the Florida Keys, in 1937.
Hemingway had buzzed around covering minor wars in the Near East as a correspondent. When a real big one, the Spanish Civil War, came along, he was off like a shot to report it for the North American Newspaper Alliance.
Spain a Special Love
He loved Spain, had lived in it on and off for a dozen years and felt at home there. He was pro-Loyalist (as his novel, “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” published in 1940, demonstrated) and raised money to buy ambulances for the troops fighting Franco’s forces.
Among other Hemingway works relating to the Spanish conflict was “The Fifth Column.”
It was his only play and wasn’t much of a success, though it made the term “fifth column” a household word. He meant that the rebels had four columns advancing on Madrid and a fifth column of rebel sympathizers inside the city attacking the defenders.
Hemingway came close to death again in Spain. Three shells hit his hotel room, but he was unhurt.
Then Another War
Then World War II came along and again it was war correspondent Ernest Hemingway at the front, dressed in GI togs and carrying a handy flask or bottle to share with the troops. This time he was covering for Collier’s magazine.
A wartime blackout in London almost resulted in his death in 1944, when he was badly banged up in a traffic accident. But a short time later with 53 stitches in his head and protesting doctors in his wake, Hemingway was off for the Normandy beachhead in an attack transport.
Joins Free French
This time, mere reporting was not enough. He joined a fighting unit of the Free French, became a captain and helped capture six Germans. He later switched to correspondence again, this time for the U.S. 1st Army.
The U.S. gave him a Bronze Star.
Shortly after the war ended, he met and married his fourth and last wife, writer Mary Welsh, a trim little blonde who loved adventure as much as he did. She called him “Papa” and he called her “Miss Mary.” They were devoted.
Miss Mary was with him, too, when their small chartered plane crashed in 1954 in one of the wildest spots in Uganda.
Hemingway’s injuries included a burned arm and his wife had some broken ribs, but he said later: “I wouldn’t have missed a minute of it.”
On other safaris, death came close when a wounded rhinoceros charged him and, still, again, when he developed a bad case of blood poisoning.
But he loved Africa too much to let anything like that daunt him. One of his best short stories, “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” had an African setting.
So had “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber.” That was expanded into a movie as was another of his top short stories, “The Killers.” “A Farewell to Arms,” “To Have and Have Not,” “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” “The Sun Also Rises,” and “The Old Man and the Sea” also were made into movies.
As soon as their Uganda plane crash hurts healed, Hemingway and his wife were off fishing for the big ones off the dangerous coral reefs of Kenya.
Cuba was another favorite fishing spot for the author. He made his home on a farm in Cuba about 10 miles from Havana. When he wasn’t fishing, he was batting out copy at his desk.
Between 1940, when “For Whom the Bell Tolls” came out, and 1950, when “Across the River and Into the Trees” – one of his less successful books – was published, no major Hemingway work emerged and critics were telling each other that Hemingway was drying up.
Then came “The Old Man and the Sea.” Critics hail it.