Paula McLain’s New Novel about Martha Gellhorn

BELOW IS AN article about Paula McLain’s historical novel about Hemingway’s third wife, Journalist Martha Gellhorn.  Photos added by me. Best, ChristineLove and Ruin

Martha, discoverer of the Finca

Cleveland Heights Author Highlights Hemingway’s Competition with Third Wife Gellhorn  (By Dan Polletta in IDEASTREAMING)

It might sound like a cliché, but the subject for Paula McLain’s new novel “Love and Ruin” (Random House) came to her in a dream.
After penning “The Paris Wife,” the best-seller about Ernest Hemingway’s first wife Hadley Richardson, McLain had no intention of writing any more about Hemingway until she dreamt of being on a fishing boat with him and his third wife Martha Gellhorn.
The next day McLain researched Gellhorn on the internet. She admits to being “embarrassed” about how little she knew about her.
“I knew she was a journalist, but not that she was perhaps the most important journalistic voice of the 20th century, that her career as a journalist and war correspondent covered 60 years, every major conflict of the 20th century. Of course, as we know, journalism and being a war correspondent was absolutely a man’s world, so it was an extraordinary feat in itself, let alone that her voice was so iconic and her accomplishments so everlasting,” McLain said.
The 28-year-old Gellhorn, who had done some cub reporting for the Albany “Times Union,” met her literary hero in a Key West bar at the end of 1936.
“She literally bumped into Hemingway in his own watering hole, ‘Sloppy Joe’s.’ He was there reading his mail. He was about to go off to report on the Spanish Civil War for the North American Newspaper Alliance,” McLain said.
McLain said Gellhorn saw meeting Hemingway, who was heading to a war that many saw as romantic, as her chance to attach herself to “noble and larger than herself.” She agreed to go with him to Spain, where she too would cover the war.
During her time reporting from Madrid, Gellhorn found her journalistic voice and fell in love with Hemingway.

Happier days, Hem and Martha

From 1936 until 1940, the two lived together off and on until they married. During that time Gellhorn covered the rise of Adolph Hitler in Germany as well as Czechoslovakia a few months before sections of it were annexed by the Nazis. She wrote about that experience in her 1940 novel “A Stricken Field.”
That same year Hemingway also published his novel “For Whom the Bell Tolls.” McLain said it was a major turning point in both of their lives.
“Hemingway was already quite famous at that point, but this book catapulted him into literary stardom. I can’t really imagine what it would have been like for her, under his roof, also trying to be a writer. She was trying to get her own literary ambitions realized. She loved her own books, as he loved his. She devoted herself to her novels and stories but of course didn’t have the success. Hemingway became completely involved in “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” which I think changed his life. The book became the focal point of their lives. It took all of the air and all of their attention.”
McLain said the book’s overwhelming presence in their lives started the process of driving them apart.

Hem and Marty

“I think Hemingway forgot what attracted him to Gellhorn when he first met her. Here was this incredible woman, so bold. He called her ‘the bravest woman he had ever met.’ She was clearly ambitious. Yet, once she became his wife, that ambition and devotion to her own career, that independence began to threaten him,” McLain said.
In 1944, Hemingway, feeling more and more abandoned when Gellhorn went off to cover war, offered his services to “Collier’s” magazine, for whom Gellhorn wrote. “Collier’s” accepted, replacing Gellhorn with Hemingway, just as she was preparing to go Normandy in 1944 to cover the D-Day invasion.
“She had no magazine for which to report, no credentials, no way to get over to the most important battle in history. Instead of rolling over, she found a way over to Europe on an ammunitions barge. When she got to London, she stowed away on what proved to be a hospital barge, which she didn’t know. She lied her way onto ship, locked herself in the john, and when she woke up she discovered she was on the first hospital barge for the Normandy Invasion,” McLain said.

Writing letters

McLain said Gellhorn going overseas in spite of Hemingway’s attempts to stop her was the breaking point of their relationship.
“They don’t recover after that. He really never forgave her. Of his four wives, she’s the only one to leave, and she’s really the only one who is his equal in every way. When they split in 1945, Gellhorn made it a point to never have his name spoken in her presence. She said ‘I don’t believe I should be remembered as footnote to anyone else’s life,’” McLain said.

Paula McLain will discuss her book at these Northeast Ohio locations this weekend

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Hemingway’s Cuban Home: Finca Vigia

Happy Spring all!  A few photos and background about Hemingway’s home in Cuba where he lived from 1940-1960.

It appeared that things were opening up in Cuba and that there might one day be actual access to Hemingway’s home Finca Vigia outside Havana. The name means Lookout Farm. Since the new election, it is unclear if this will happen.

Regardless, Hemingway had over 10 acres and a rundown house that was found by his then wife, Martha Gellhorn. It was his home from approximately 1940 to 1960. He had a staff usually of 3 people to help in the house, drive, work in the gardens. The vegetation was lush and he and Martha brought the pool and tennis court back to former glory.

Even after the divorce from Martha Gellhorn, he kept the farm as his residence and his new wife Mary Welsh moved in and became the mistress of the house.

Mary’s tower for the cats and writing

When asked why he didn’t live in America, Hemingway noted that he could boat and fish year- round in Cuba, always had a breeze, fantastic food and drink, and a welcoming and warm people. He indicated that if he found a similar place in America, he would move there.

60′ living room

Ultimately he had to move. Although Castro did no

Martha, discoverer of the Finca

t force him out, the anti-Americanism was everywhere. Further, when he came to visit in the United States in 1960, the FBI told him he could not return. There then ensued great drama in trying to get his personal items and book manuscripts out; his animals re-settled; and to provide care for his staff left behind. It was a devastating blow to him although he did anticipate that he would have to leave Cuba at some point. He had a small apartment in New York but after not being able to return to Cuba lived much of the year in Idaho in the house in which he died.

Hem drinks with Boise

Finca Vigia is presently in the midst of renovations. The goal is to keep it as it was when Hemingway was there but with preservation. In a humid climate, much deteriorates relatively quickly and the restoration project is afoot.

After Hemingway’s death, Mary donated the house to the Cuban government and the restoration began in 2005 by the Finca Vigia Foundation working with the Cuban government. The house itself is in San Francisco de Paula, a modest town 9 miles outside Havana. The Cuban people have always respected Hemingway’s choice to live among the people he fished with. The house was built in 1886 and was purchased by Hemingway in 1940 for $12,500.

He wrote For Whom the Bell Tolls and The Old Man and the Sea primarily while living there. A Moveable Feast was also written there. After Hemingway’s death in 1961, the Cuban government took ownership of the property and Mary Hemingway agreed to that appropriation.

Please enjoy the photos of his home.

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New Book about The Sun Also Rises: Everyone Behaves Badly

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 HemingwayLMMB VH Plaza

 

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.

Coop
Coop

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.

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Wife Number 3: Martha Gellhorn

Hemingway and Martha
Hemingway and Martha
Dancing
Dancing
Martha Gellhorn
Martha Gellhorn

About a year ago, I began doing posts on the wives and got sidetracked on other Hemingway issues. I posted on Hadley and Pauline, then diverted. Hemingway was married to Hadley Richardson for about seven years, i.e. 1921 to 1927. He was married to Pauline Pfeiffer from 1927 to 1940. He was married to Martha Gellhorn from 1940 to 1945. He met her in Key West when she was on vacation with her mother. Tall, attractive, ambitious, blond, smart, witty, and charming, he kept company with her first behind Pauline’s back, including when both were covering the Spanish Civil War. Martha admired his talent and bravery and he admired her looks, her talent and her courage. Hadley, Pauline, and Mary (wife no. 4) were deferential to Hemingway in the sense of wanting to please him. Martha was not. It was the one marriage he claims to have regretted and she certainly wanted nothing to do with him after the divorce.

 Ernest Hemingway and Martha Gellhorn in Sun Valley, Idaho, 1940. Photographer unknown in the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.

Ernest Hemingway and Martha Gellhorn in Sun Valley, Idaho, 1940. Photographer unknown in the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.

 

While Hemingway was hard to be married to, he had a kind, sweet side as well. A biographer of Martha Gellhorn uncovered some letters recently that made clear that he was very supportive of her career and all that she accomplished and could accomplish. That being said, he was at times jealous that she would take off to go on assignments as opposed to staying with him in Cuba when he preferred to have her there.

 

Martha was a strong woman ahead of her time. She was also a good friend of Eleanor Roosevelt and was a first-rate journalist in her own right. She never had children of her own, but adopted two. When her health was to the point of not being recoverable, she killed herself in London at the age of 89

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Cuba is hot.
Cuba is hot.
Martha
Martha

 

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Hemingway’s Only Play: The Fifth Column

War is serious.
War is serious.

 

Ernest Hemingway wrote only one play, “The Fifth Column.” Written in the late 30’s as his relationship with journalist Martha Gellhorn began to take root, the action takes place in Madrid and features an American who is hard drinking and posing as a correspondent although actually he is acting on behalf of the rebels. Much of the action takes place in a room in the Hotel Florida as Franco’s forces surround the city. Hemingway wrote it in the middle of the Spanish civil War and he didn’t know who was going to win the war so he had no benefit of hindsight.

Hemingway and Martha
Hemingway and Martha

 

At the time (1938 was when it was published) Hemingway was already a celebrated novelist. His support was solidly behind republican cause against the Franco forces which were following a fascist path.

 

Martha Gellhorn was a young journalist but she had written a book and was developing a strong reputation as a journalist herself. She’d met Hemingway in Key West and they’d begun an affair and met in Spain again as both covered the war. They later wed but the relationship went sour. They divorced five years later.

 

The play was not particularly well received. The main characters are Philip Rawlings and Dorothy Bridges and the plot raises the issues surrounding the Spanish Civil War as well as the ruthlessness of the rival factions fighting.

 

A young Martha
A young Martha

Actor Simon Darwen is playing Philip Rawlings and he notes, “Rawlings is a guy who is very jaded and very tired and his job is taking a toll on him but there is love for Dorothy. He convinces himself he can’t have her and his work so he makes the choice to be so awful to her that she pushes him away.” Although Martha Gellhorn herself was independent and fearless, Dorothy in this play is clingy, needy, and a bit of a light-weight.

 

Hem relaxed--with the beard
Hem relaxed–with the beard

The play just opened in London so we’ll see if it is better received than the original. It is running until April 15th.     

 

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