Oh, the fun of this. About half of the items in the exhibit are being borrowed from the Kennedy Library (Boston) Collection. Some were private letters so don’t be too hard on him. If letters you wrote to a close friend or lover were made public .they might not include your most eloquent turns of phrase. If you can manage, this will be a great stroll through Hemingway lore and history.
For an intensive weekend, Vets can write and gain access to their creative side at the homestead of Pauline Pfeiffer, Hemingway’s second wife. her Uncle Gus was a generous patron to Hemingway in his earlier years and in fact, Hem dedicated A Farewell to Arms to Gus Pfeiffer. What a great idea for giving back and enriching the community. Read more.
I subscribe to a number of RSS feeds and google alerts that keep me posted on all things Hemingway. So here are a few random developments.
1) Mariel Hemingway is producing a movie of Hemingway’s last book, A Moveable Feast, finished after his death and published initially in 1964. (Hemingway died in 1961).
2) Andy Garcia is wrapping up his movie about Hemingway and his boat captain, Gregorio Fuentes.
3) Coming out in the Fall is a possible Oscar contender called GENIUS, about
Hemingway’s editor Maxwell Perkins (played by Colin Firth) and Tom Wolfe (played by Michael Fassbinder). Dominic West plays Hemingway. All Brits playing Americans.
4) The Cuban government is working on how much access to permit to the Finca Vigia. Right now, the public can peer through windows but cannot go in.
5)Thomasville is having a Hemingway Outdoor furniture collection.
6) A man named Robert Wheeler spent a winter four years ago in Paris, retracing Hemingway’s time there in the early 1920s. He took a camera. And now he’s publishing a book, due out April 7. I can’t wait to see it.
7) Before announcing the winner of the 2015 PEN/Hemingway Award for debut fiction, Beacon Press director Helene Atwan, administrator of the prize, made note of a major gift from the Hemingway family. The cash prize attached to the award was doubled this year to $20,000. Patrick, Hemingway’s remaining son, was on hand to assist in distributing the awards which took place at the JFK Library, home of he Hemingway Collection.
It appears that for the first time in decades, Cuba will be open to Americans and others around the world. In reviewing some of the recommended sights to see in Cuba for those eager to take a look, the Finca Vigia is always prominently listed. For those who followed earlier posts, you may recall that when Hemingway and his wife, Mary, were visiting in the U.S., they were abruptly advised by the FBI that they would not be allowed to return.
After Hemingway’s death, Mary was permitted by arrangement through the auspices of President Kennedy to return to the farm to pack up some critical items. When she and Hemingway left, the phonograph still had the last record they played on it. She took many papers, but furnishings remained. Hemingway was devastated to leave his staff high and dry as he was close to most of them and he was devastated to lose his Cuban house. He knew that something bad was coming as he saw the protests against America and did feel that probably his tenure there was not going to be very long. However, the suddenness with no preparation was breathtaking.
Hemingway was on J. Edgar Hoover’s watch list for years because of his residence in Cuba. Despite some claims to the contrary, Hemingway was far from close to Fidel Castro. They met a few times. I’ve read that they were “fishing” pals but everything else I’ve read does not suggest that that’s the case. If anyone reading this knows more than I do on this point, feel free to correct me or throw some light on that point.
The Cubans adore Hemingway. They always have. Hemingway’s house was in a small run-down town outside Havana, but he frequented Havana often. He and Martha Gelhorn and later his fourth wife, Mary, renovated the house and made it lovely and comfortable. It fell into disrepair after Hemingway left and only recently, through the auspices of Maxwell Perkins’ granddaughter, Jenny, have serious efforts been made to bring it back to its former loveliness. It’s twelve acres on a Cuban hillside, with many rooms opening to patios or with large windows to let in the warm, humid air that he enjoyed. I just read an article by Reed Johnson published in World News of The Wall Street Journal. Mr. Reed noted “perhaps no work of art is more emblematic of the countries’ (U.S. and Cuba) tangled artistic affinities than Ernest Hemingway’s Pulitizer Prize winning 1952 novel “The Old Man in the Sea.” In Hemingway’s taut masterpiece, Santiago, an aging Cuban fisherman and a New York Yankees fan, engages in an epic battle with a giant marlin, with his spiritual idol, Joe DiMaggio, as his invisible first mate. Hemingway’s portrait of the valiant Cuban is affectionate, respectful and intimately knowledgeable, qualities often lacking in U.S.-Cuban politics, but abundant in U.S.-Cuban art.”
All in all, I hope my own future holds a trip to Cuba and Finca Vigia.
The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shockproof, shit detector.
― Ernest Hemingway
Hemingway was notoriously generous to young writers and fans seeking his input. A.E. Hotchner who became a good confidante and friend met Hem in the Spring of 1948 when he was dispatched to Cuba on assignment by Cosmopolitan magazine to get an article on Hem about The Future of Literature. The magazine was putting out an issue about “the future” of everything: architecture, cars, art, etc. You get the idea. So why not have the lion of literature give an interview on the future of literature.
Hotchner sent a note to Hem saying that he’d been sent down on “this ridiculous mission but did not want to disturb him, and if he could simply send me a few words of refusal it would be enormously helpful to the The Future of Hotchner.” A.E. Hotchner, Papa Hemingway. Page 4.
Instead, Hem rang him the next day.
“This Hotchner?” he asked
“Dr. Hemingway here. Got your note. Can’t let you abort your mission or you’ll lose face with the Hearst organization, which is about like getting bounced from a leper colony. You want to have a drink around five? There’s a bar called La Florida. Just tell the taxi.” A.E. Hotchner, Papa Hemingway, page 4.
. And thus began a beautiful friendship.
I recently read an article that detailed how one Arnold Samuelson hitchhiked 2,000 miles, from Minnesota to Florida in 1934 to meet Hemingway. Samuelson was trying to make a go of it as a writer and was so impressed by the short stories that he traveled to get advice from his idol.
Samuelson wrote, “It seemed a damn fool thing to do, but a twenty-two-year-old tramp during the Great Depression didn’t have to have much reason for what he did.”
Ultimately, Samuelson found Hemingway who provided him with insights, and soon hired him on as his assistant. Hem gave him a list of 16 books essential to any complete education. The list is interesting to consider.
Drum roll: the list is:
1. “The Blue Hotel” by Stephen Crane
2. “The Open Boat” by Stephen Crane
3. “Madame Bovary” by Gustave Flaubert
4.”Dubliners” by James Joyce
5. The Red and the Black” by Stendhal
6. “Of Human Bondage” by Somerset Maugham
7. “Anna Karenina” by Leo Tolstoy
8. “War and Peace” by Leo Tolstoy
9. “Buddenbrooks” by Thomas Mann
10. “Hail and Farewell” by George Moore
11.”The Brothers Karamazov” by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
12. “The Oxford Book of English Verse”
13. “The Enormous Room” by E.E. Cummings
14. “Wuthering Heights” by Emily Bronte
15. “Far Away and Long Ago” by W.H. Hudson
164. “The American” by Henry James
So what would make your list? A few of the above escape me but most have stood the test of time.
This is interesting . It’s in Spanish and you can tell that Hemingway was enunciating carefully and considering his answers. It seems that he really tried to be gracious about his fans although he was not thrilled with the publicity after the Nobel and Pulitzer Prizes.
The largest collection of Hemingway letters and memorabilia is in Boston, Massachusetts at the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum. Mary Welch Hemingway, Hem’s fourth wife, made that selection. While Hemingway and John Kennedy never met, Kennedy respected Hemingway’s writing and person. In his own Pulitzer Prize winning book, Profiles in Courage, Kennedy cited Hemingway’s description of courage, writing that, “This is a book about the most admirable of human virtues — courage. ‘Grace under pressure,’ Ernest Hemingway defined it.”
Hemingway was invited to President Kennedy’s inaugural address but he had to decline due to ill health. The inauguration was in January 1961 and Hem died in July 1961. While there was a ban on travel to Cuba in 1961 due to the tension from the Bay of Pigs incident, Mary was permitted to return to the Finca, their home in Cuba, to retrieve papers and personal possessions. The Kennedy Administration worked to make this possible. Fidel Castro personally promised safe passage for Mary so that she could collect and ship artwork, notes, letters, and beloved possessions.
There were many suitors for these prized items. Mary maintained her connection with the White House and was the guest of President and Mrs. Kennedy at the White House dinner for the Nobel Prize winners in April, 1962. Hem was honored as one of America’s distinguished Nobel laureates and Frederic March read excerpts from the works of three previous Nobel Prize winners, Sinclair Lewis, George C. Marshall, and Hemingway – the opening pages from his then-unpublished Islands in the Stream.
In 1964, Mary contacted Jacqueline Kennedy and offered her husband’s collection to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, which was still in the planning stage with the intent that it be a national memorial to John F. Kennedy. The collection included drafts of various novels of Hemingway, rewrites, and a sense of how he wrote and revised.
In 1972, Mrs. Hemingway deeded the collection to the Kennedy Presidential Library and began depositing papers in its Archives.
On July 18, 1980, Patrick Hemingway, Hem’s older son with his second wife, Pauline Pfeiffer, and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis dedicated the Hemingway Room in the JFK Library.
I’m going to visit it again in a few weeks. If any of you have been, I’d love to hear your impressions. I always get a thrill seeing a photo that I haven’t seen before. It makes it all come alive for me anew.
He did it. He should have done it in 1942 for For Whom the Bell Tolls but the committee was divided; some felt the sexual content was “improper”; no prize was awarded at all that year. It’s a bit sad that the award happened when it did, as Hem was not up to accepting it in person at that time and, I think, would have truly appreciated it. He scoffed at the Nobel Prize for Literature calling it the Ignoble Prize but it mattered to him to be passed over.
Well, he won it for The Old Man and the Sea, his little novella that was to be part of a trilogy.
Listen to the speech on the above link (well it’s just the beginning of the speech) in Hem’s voice. He enunciates his “t’s” and I’m not sure if it was for the purpose of being clear in this speech or if that was his mid-western accent. (If anyone out there knows, please let us know.) He could not make it to the actual ceremony due to the two plane crashes he’d been in and other health matters. John Cabot read his acceptance speech in Sweden and Hem made this recording after.
It’s humble and beautiful–and short.
It’s funny. Words are a writer’s craft and lifeline, yet many writers are not outgoing. Hem apparently was actually shy especially when not drinking and he was always reluctant to engage in public speaking.
Today, given the press for writers to be “out there”, I wonder how he would feel about twitter and facebook for himself. He likely would not have done it in the later years. His privacy became more valuable but of course, by then, he was not ernest hemingway but HEMINGWAY so no need to cultivate the masses.