Hemingway was a romantic. Sure, he was macho and tough and a man’s man in many ways, but he enjoyed women greatly and always had a close and loving relationship with Marlene Dietrich. One of Hemingway’s love letters to her is going up for auction. It is expected it will garner something in the vicinity of $30 – $40,000.
This particular letter is dated August 12, 1952 – a year after Dietrich had confessed to keeping the author’s photograph by her bedside. They met in 1934 and became quite infatuated with each other but never consummated the attraction because, as Hemingway put it, they were “victims of unsynchronized passion.” He noted that whenever one of them was out of a relationship the other one was in one and the timing never worked out.
Hemingway writes in the letter to Marlene “I always love you and admire you and I have all sorts of mixed up feelings about you.” Later in the letter he declares that while “you are beautiful…I am ugly…please know I love you always and I forget you sometimes as I forget my heart beats. But it beats always.”
Marlene and Hemingway corresponded over several decades. Marlene Dietrich’s daughter wrote a book noting that after Hemingway’s death, her mother wore widow’s weeds for quite a while and she always believed that had he been with her, instead of his then wife, Mary, he wouldn’t have killed himself.
So, if I had $30,000+ just sitting around, I might enter the fray and bid on this letter, but I fear I’m going to have to let it go to some other fervent Hemingway fan.
I’ve read many of Hemingway’s letters. They are fun and he is quite funny and clever in them. His humor rarely comes through in his novels.
I think the line that I’ve quoted above – I forget you sometimes as I forget my heart beats. But it beats always – is so him. It’s very simple and yet it speaks volumes.
How driving ambulances during World War I inspired Hemingway By Michael Riedel March 19, 2017
Several major artists and innovators of the 20th century served as volunteer ambulance drivers during World War I, shaping their experiences on the battlefield into groundbreaking works.
The carnage horrified poet E.E. Cummings, who drove an ambulance in France. He would go on to fracture his verse the way bodies were fractured in the trenches. He poured his anger at the senselessness of war into letters back to the United States — and found himself in a detention camp for subversives. He recounted his imprisonment in his novel “The Enormous Room.”
W. Somerset Maugham, who trained as a doctor, did not flinch from the horror. He picked up body parts and treated gaping wounds with cool detachment, the kind of detachment he would later use to dissect the emotional lives of his characters in novels such as “The Painted Veil.”
At 16, Walt Disney was too young to enlist, so he volunteered for the Red Cross as an ambulance driver. He was sent to France and had little contact with the wounded. He spent most of his time drawing. “I found out that inside or outside of an ambulance is as good a place as any to draw,” he said.
While training to be a driver, Disney befriended Ray Kroc, another patriot who was too young to enlist and had chosen to be an ambulance driver instead. In the 1950s, Kroc would become one of the country’s best known businessmen when he turned McDonald’s into a fast-food empire.
But the deepest friendship to develop in the ambulance-driver ranks was between Ernest Hemingway and John Dos Passos. They shared not only an occupation but a desire to revolutionize American writing — that would last until the ideological battles of the 1930s tore it apart.
Their relationship is detailed in James McGrath Morris’ new book, “The Ambulance Drivers: Hemingway, Dos Passos, and a Friendship Made and Lost in War.”
“The world was shattered, and Hemingway and Dos Passos explicitly felt they would have to write about life in a different way,” Morris told The Post.
Dos Passos had poor eyesight that made him unfit for combat, so he joined the volunteer ambulance corps. He had to pick his way through corpse-filled trenches at Verdun, writing in his diary, “Horror is so piled on horror there can be no more.”
Hemingway tried to enlist in the army, but he, too, failed vision tests. He joined the Red Cross and was dispatched to an ambulance unit on the Italian front. He met Dos Passos over a dinner of rabbit stew and red wine at a hospital near Schio.
A mortar cut short Hemingway’s service. He spent the rest of the war in a hospital, where he fell in love with a nurse who inspired the character of Catherine Barkley in “A Farewell to Arms.”
Dos Passos had a very different experience. “[He] carried buckets of body parts and suffered a mustard-gas attack. For him war was senseless and crushing and must be opposed,” Morris said.
After the war they both lived in Paris, spending hours in Left Bank cafes discussing art, books and their desire to revolutionize American literature.
The friendship showed signs of fraying, especially when Dos Passos urged Hemingway to join left-wing causes that Hemingway eschewed. But they continued to spend a lot of time together fishing — and drinking — in Cuba and the Florida Keys.
The break came during the Spanish Civil War. Dos Passos, while staunchly anti-fascist, began to sour on the left-wing government of Spain, whose main ally was the Soviet Union. Hemingway supported the government in its battle against General Franco and the fascists.
When a friend was killed in the war, Dos Passos suspected (with good reason) that the communists had murdered him. Hemingway told him, “Don’t ask questions,” Morris writes.
In 1964, decades after the Spanish Civil War and three years after his own death, Hemingway exacted revenge on Dos Passos with the posthumous publishing of his memoir, “A Moveable Feast.” He depicted Dos Passos as a parasite who lived off rich friends.
As Morris writes, “War forged their friendship, but in the end another war took it from them.”
With all of the talk about politicians and Russian connections, there has also been in the news recently much discussion of Hemingway’s Russian connections. It’s interesting to me since this information has been around, open, and in all biographies, yet seems to be presented as a new finding. I’m an amateur student of Hemingway and this is what I’ve known:
From 1942 through the end of the war, Hemingway conducted a furtive group, which he in Hemingway self-mocking fashion, called the Crook Factory. It was established with the permission American diplomat Robert Joyce. In essence, Hemingway and buddies observed local happenings that might be tied to German subversion, submarines, surveillance. It was observed by Spruill Braiden, also a diplomat, that Hemingway had a knack for “charismatic convincing, an astonishing ability to recruit to the cause local folks you might understatedly call mixed company, i.e. bartenders, wharf rats, down-at-heel pelota players and former bullfighters, Basque priests, assorted exiled counts and dukes, several Spanish loyalists.”His wife at the time, Martha Gellhorn, wanted him to be more importantly and directly reporting on the war. She saw the “Crook Factory” as an opportunity for Hemingway to go out on his boat and get drunk with his pals. However, this is not exactly news.
Hemingway was left-leaning. In the Spanish Civil War, he wrote and contributed financially to the opposition to Franco, which just happened to be the leftists and Russians, who were fighting against Franco.
Prior to 1935, Hemingway was not particularly politically active or vocal. He was moved to the left when in the aftermath of a hurricane in Florida (he was still in Key West in 1935), he saw World War I vets living nearby and doing construction under Roosevelt’s New Deal. Very bad conditions became worse when the hurricane hit. He observed that “heroes were dead and left half-naked to float in the Atlantic.” He felt the government should be doing more for its people.
For some reason, the recent writings have put some sinister cast on Hemingway’s activism. In terms of the times, the Russians were our allies in World War II, and there was nothing sinister about it, although Hemingway did get on the FBI watch list as a result. He was not a fan of Fidel Castro, although he did hope for the best and tried to keep a low profile so that he could remain in Cuba unmolested. Ultimately, that turned out to be impossible.
In August 1944, Hemingway was in Paris during the liberation and his ego made him unpopular at times with some. He did join the tank line heading toward Paris in Rambouillet and was present at the liberation of Paris. Although he went to France as a war correspondent for Colliers, he didn’t have to put himself in any danger but he did. There have been criticisms that he took too much control at times, and/or that he had a disproportionate amount of liquor available to him. Andy Rooney, who was also in France covering the allied efforts as a foreign correspondent for Stars and Stripes, a military newspaper, disliked him. He called him a “jerk.” Hemingway was like that. Either his bigger than life presentations inspired you and was fun or it turned you off and you were wary.
Still, I’m not quite sure why Hemingway is now portrayed as some sort of collaborator in a bad way. At that time, you were for or against the Nazis, and he was against them. So please read about it and decide for yourself.
Hunter Stockton Thompson (18 July1937 – 20 February2005) was an American journalist and author famous for his flamboyant writing style, known as Gonzo Journalism, which blurred the distinctions between writer and subject, fiction and non-fiction. At the age of 67, suffering a bout of health problems, Thompson died at his home in Woody Creek, Colorado, of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
Who knew? More than 50 years ago Hunter Thompson was visiting Hemingway’s Ketchum, Idaho home and pilfered a set of trophy elk antlers. In mid-August 2016, his widow, Anita Thompson, gave the antlers back stating that Hunter had always been embarrassed that he had taken them.
“He wished he hadn’t,” she said. “He was young, it was 1964, and he got caught up in the moment. He talked about it several times, about taking a road trip and returning them.”
The Ketchum, Idaho community library has been a repository for things that Hemingway used and that were from his Ketchum, Idaho residence. The antlers were returned to the Idaho community library and ultimately shipped to Hemingway’s grandson in New York City. For years, the antlers hung in the garage of Hunter Thompson’s home outside Aspen, Colorado.
The taking of the antlers has been local lore for a number of years and apparently now the antlers have found a final home within the Hemingway family.
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.
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.
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.
Until Hemingway was four, his mother dressed him up like a girl to match his sister who was about year younger than he was. His hair was kept long as well.
He hated the name “Ernest.”
In World War I, he was denied entering the military due to very poor eyesight. He was only 17 at the time. He convinced the military to let him in as an ambulance driver.
Hemingway once said of Fitzgerald that, “Scott thought that the rich are different from “you and me.” Hemingway felt they just had more money.
Hemingway had a favorite hamburger recipe that has about 10 ingredients. I tried it once and didn’t find it worth all of those ingredients, which include garlic, green onion, India relish, capers, sage, Spice Island’s Beau Mond Seasoning, Spice Island’s Mairen Powder, one egg beaten, dry red or white wine, one tablespoon of cooking oil. He also had a notation noting soy sauce and tomato could be added at the end.
Hemingway often wrote standing up. He liked it, but after the plane crashes in 1954, it hurt his back less to stand.
Hemingway was married four times and was married to his fourth wife at the time of his death, Mary Welsh Hemingway. Hadley, his first wife, remained a good friend and preferred to be referred to as Mrs. Paul Mowrer as opposed to Hadley Hemingway. Martha Gellhorn, his third wife, never liked being referred to as his third wife and required that interviews not mention him.
Hemingway survived exposure to anthrax, malaria, skin cancer, and pneumonia. He lived with diabetes, two plane crashes, a ruptured kidney, hepatitis, a ruptured spleen, a fracture skull, a crushed vertebrae. As we all know, it was his own hand that ultimately did him in.
For five years his wife Mary insisted that his death was accidental as opposed to a suicide.
Hemingway felt strongly that it was bad luck to talk about how he wrote and the writing process.
Hemingway initially began to wear a beard due to a skin condition that made it painful to shave daily.
1. The 2016 winner of the Pen/Hemingway Award is a young woman name Ottessa Moshfegh. Ms Moshfegh was raised in Newton, MA is being honored for her first novel, “Eileen.” Patrick Hemingway, the son of Ernest Hemingway, presented the award on April 10th in Boston. A $25,000 prize was also awarded to the winner.
2. The Movie “Genius” is coming out with Colin Firth as Hemingway’s Editor Max Perkins. So far the feedback is mixed. The previewers were concerned that the movie lacked passion. If that is the case, I am sorry to hear it. The Perkins/Hemingway relationship is peripheral in the movie. The focus is on Max Perkins’ relationship with Tom Wolfe played by Jude Law. The movie is based on A. Scott Berg’s biography of Perkins.
3. Caterpillar, the maker of tractors and construction equipment, has donated $500,000 to preserve Hemingway’s home in Cuba. The donation was made for the restoration and preservation of documents and artifacts from the home of writer Ernest Hemingway. It will also be used for the construction of the workshop building which will house a laboratory with archived storage facilities near the Hemingway Museum in Havana. Today, the house turned museum preserves a collection of personal objects and documents including books, hunting trophies, guns, letters, photos, a typewriter on which he tended to write standing up, and the yacht Lel Pilar on which he went fishing and sailed around the Caribbean.
More of Hemingway’s letters are being published and they are so revealing and fun. For example, Hemingway is known as being a bit of a bully to his wives yet some of the letters show great sensitivities to Martha Gellhorn and admiration and support for her career as a writer. Please take a look when you have time.