Visit To the Hemingway Collection in Boston Part 1

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Kennedy Library, home of the Hemingway Collection, Boston
Kennedy Library, home of the Hemingway Collection, Boston

I was in Boston for a few days and took the opportunity to visit the Hemingway collection at the JFK Library and Museum. It’s about 20 minutes depending on traffic from downtown in a cab but shuttle buses travel out there more inexpensively as well. It is right on the water and very modern as you can see.

The present exhibit at the Hemingway Collection is entitled Hemingway Between the Wars, which covers much if not most of his career. The Old Man and the Sea, The Dangerous Summer, A Moveable Feast, among others came after World War II, (some posthumously. Hem died in 1961 and A Moveable Feast came out in 1964, edited primarily by Hemingway’s surviving wife, Mary. Garden of Eden  was also posthumously published.) but The Sun Also Rises, Men Without Women, A Farewell to Arms, The Snows of Kilimanjaro, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and many of the more famous short stories, i.e. The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber, Green Hills of Africa, all were done between the wars.

Green hills of Africa
Green hills of Africa

Although Hemingway had his first great romance (with Agnes Von Kurowsky, his attending nurse after Hemingway was injured) during the war–not between the wars, the famous photo of her and Hemingway was in the exhibit. While I knew well that F. Scott Fitzgerald had done some serious editing on The Sun Also Rises and cut out the beginning and told Hemingway to start at a different place—and the rest is history—they had the actual letter Fitzgerald wrote to Hemingway expressing his disappointment at the beginning and making his suggestion to cut in strong terms. Uncharacteristically and probably because he was young and not yet confident, Hemingway did not resist and took Fitzgerald’s advice, much to the improvement of the book.

 1918 Nurse Agnes von Kurowsky and American Red Cross volunteer Ernest Hemingway, Milan, Italy. Photograph in the Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.
1918 Nurse Agnes von Kurowsky and American Red Cross volunteer Ernest Hemingway, Milan, Italy. Photograph in the Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.
Hem and Scott
Hem and Scott

 

There also was a list of titles that Hemingway considered for The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber (1936). For those of you not familiar with this story, it is set in Africa and was published in September 1936 in Cosmopolitan Magazine concurrently with The Snows of Kilimanjaro. The story was eventually adapted to the screen as “The Macomber Affair” (1947).

The story deals with a dysfunctional marriage between Francis and Margot who are on a big game safari in Africa with a professional hunter Robert Wilson. On his first time out, Francis had panicked when a wounded lion charged him, which humiliated him in front of his wife who took far too much pleasure in mocking him about his act of cowardice. It is suggested that she sleeps with Robert Wilson. The next day the party hunt buffalo. Two are killed and one is wounded and retreats. It’s generally bad form, not to mention cruel all around, to leave a wounded animal as it is, and Francis and Wilson proceed to track him so that they can put him out of his misery. When they find the buffalo, it charges Francis Macomber. He stands his ground and fires, but his shots are too high. At the last second Macomber kills the buffalo with his last bullet and Margot fires a shot from her gun, which hits Macomber in the skull and kills him. Good times!

Hadley
Hadley

(Sorry, as a divorce lawyer I sometimes have a dark sense of humor on relationships.) Anyway, at the exhibit, there is a list of some of the alternate titles that Hemingway considered such as Marriage is a Dangerous Game, A Marriage has Terminated, The Cult of Violence, Marriage as a Bond.

Happy

HAPPY On the Sea

Fitzgerald's advice typed up so we can read it easily. Actual handwritten letter was in the display.

 

TO BE CONTINUED Next POST!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hemingway and the Green Hills of Africa

#Hemingwaysafrica

Everything in the Hemingway world seems to be percolating and changing and evolving, especially new versions of his classics.

Hem
Hem

 

Kilimanjaro
Kilimanjaro

Hemingway wrote the Green Hills of Africa in 1935. He and his second wife Pauline had just taken a hunting safari on the Serengeti Plains leaving Jack, Gregory and Patrick at home. Hemingway then chronicled the adventure, adding fiction to the non-fiction.

 

A new edition has come out. It’s been authorized by the Hemingway estate and has a new introduction by his grandson Sean. His son Patrick also shares some personal memories. One new feature that will be historically interesting is that a diary of the trip was kept by Pauline and her observations will be quite interesting to read. That diary will be part of the re-issue.

 

Serengeti
Serengeti

One of Pauline’s observations is that the chronology of some events was changed by Hemingway and she traces his short story The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber to an incident that occurred on that trip.

 

So! The Sun Also Rises has been reissued (one version shows the book as originally envisioned with changes Scott Fitzgerald suggested and which Hemingway implemented); A Moveable Feast has been reissued; and A Farewell to Arms has also been reissued.

 

Green hills of Africa
Green hills of Africa

I read The Green Hills of Africa only once. Being an animal lover, I found the hunting and the carcasses of animals very disturbing. I realize that we have to take all of this in the context of the times when the concept of conservation was truly unexplored. As his grandson Sean noted, portions of Green Hills might be uncomfortable for the modern readers. It’s somewhat telling that Hemingway notes that he fears the consequences of western countries expanding into an undeveloped region. “A continent ages quickly once we come. The natives live in harmony with it. But the foreigner destroys, cuts the trees, drains the water supply so that the water supply is altered. The earth gets tired of being exploited.”Keen eye

 

This reminded me of the epithet of The Sun Also Rises about the earth enduring and enduring.

Papa and Jack/Bumby
Papa and Jack/Bumby

 

In any event, it should be an intriguing read with some insight into the evolution of Hemingway’s thought processes plus Pauline’s observations.