Was Hemingway Bi-polar?

FROM THE moment Ernest Hemingway saw Finca Vigia ( Lookout Farm) outside Havana in 1939, it became his home in the deepest sense.

The above article discusses Hemingway’s time in Cuba, self-medication perhaps with alcohol, and his love for his Cuban home. Very interesting. Best, Christine

 

The Hemingway Writing App

Hem writing a letter maybe?
Hem finding the right word

Whether you compose presentations, speeches, online content, or just a lot of emails, this app can make a huge difference in the way you write.

This is pretty interesting. It’s an app for $ 6.99 that you apply to your writing and it tells you which sentences are too wordy; whether or not you need to eliminate some adverbs and find a more precise word; and the “readability” of your writing, such as is it readable on an 8th grade level or more likely on a college level. It’s aptly called the “Hemingway app.”.

When some drafts of a few of Hemingway’s stories were found scattered about his Cuban home, there were often notations on them saying such things as “this prose can be tightened,” or “find a better word here.”  He was his own best editor and toughest critic until Max Perkins got his hands on it, anyway. Anyway, this is fun to contemplate.

A Scotch sour and a breeze!
A Scotch sour and a breeze!
Don't even ask. My style is my own and I won't tell you how I do it
Don’t even ask. My style is my own and I won’t tell you how I do it

Frustration

HEMINGWAY AS LETTER WRITER

Last several years
Last several years

Hemingway was a prolific letter writer. Some say that he left behind 8,000 to 10,000 letters. Some have been published despite his request that they not be published. I have to say though that reading his letters is really fun and interesting and gives me insight into his humor, what’s important to him, and the cadence of his voice.Hem's Dining room Dining room in Key West

Hem writing a letter maybe?
Hem writing a letter maybe?

 

Published letters have been accumulated from the “senders.” Hemingway did not keep copies of his own letters to others, but he did keep letters he received from other writers, from family members, and from his wives. Upon his death, he had stacks of letters he had received from his first wife Hadley. Mary, his last wife, was kind enough to return them to Hadley. Hadley had not kept Hemingway’s letters to her.

 

Sometimes Hemingway kept letters that he had drafted out, but never sent for one reason or another. He may have thought better of it; he may have thought it was too harsh; those also have been collected. Fortunately for all of us, Hemingway was a notorious packrat. When Mary went to collect some of their things after Hemingway’s death and she was permitted access to the Cuban house for the sole purpose of getting her belongings, she also retrieved letters, recipes, cards received, all were scattered together. They were turned over to the Hemingway Collection in Boston at the JFK Library. People who sorted through them found little notes, drafted pages and among his historically valuable letters, they also found recipes, doodles, Christmas cards. Carlos Baker, one of the early Hemingway biographers and scholar from Princeton, and the one selected by his fourth wife Mary, published a volume of 600 letters 20 years after Hemingway’s death. The rest of his letters were scattered about and in some cases held back by family members.

Where he wrote in the 1920's in Paris
Where he wrote in the 1920’s in Paris

 

Some of the letters have shed light on a different side of Hemingway. Sandra Spanier, an associate professor of English at Penn State University was also, the editor of one of the early projects for publishing some of Hemingway’s letters. She noted that in letters to Martha Gelhorn, Hemingway’s third wife, Hemingway emerges as far more supportive of Martha’s career than was earlier assumed. An uglier side also did emerge at times, but there were many kind letter showing the tenderness that he was capable of, the loving husband who took care of household details, his great pride in Martha’s work, and descriptions of Hemingway advising Martha that he was reading drafts of her novel to his sons. These letters only became available after Martha Gelhorn’s death in 1998.

Kilimanjaro
Kilimanjaro

 

Correspondence with Jane Mason, a Havana socialite with whom it’s believed he had an affair, weren’t discovered until 1999 in a trunk by Jane Mason’s granddaughter. These also shed light on his wit and character.

 

I highly recommend reading some of these letters. They are extremely funny, self-deprecating, unguarded, and blunt. In one letter, Hemingway invited Senator Joseph R. McCarthy to Cuba to “Duke it out.” There was another letter that Hemingway wrote to his mother who notoriously disapproved of his subject matter and whom he notoriously disliked. When his mother told him that her book club disapproved of his 1926 The Sun Also Rises, he told her in this letter that he would have been worried if they had not disapproved and he advised his mother to read his future works with “a little shot of loyalty as an anesthetic.”

the Sun Also Rises
the Sun Also Rises

 

Reading Hemingway’s own words not in a novel, but in his correspondence with friends, family, enemies, and rivals, gives a much more rounded picture of him and it’s just plain fun.

 

I'm about to write a letter--by hand as in the earlier times.
I’m about to write a letter–by hand as in the earlier times.

 

Letters to Martha?
Letters to Martha?

Hemingway Places

Nice article about places to visit and feel Papa’s memories. I did not know that his usual seat at La Flordita in Havana was blocked off and a daiquiri placed on the counter daily near his statue. I have it on good authority that his favorite drink however was a mega-cold Martini. However, a daiquiri will do. Hem Places

Paris

 If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast. Ernest Hemingway

Hem in Paris
Hem in Paris
Paris
Paris

It’s the beginning of a very rugged winter—or so it seems—in Connecticut. Yesterday the winds were grueling and temps were in the twenties.  I’m writing this in November as I have a busy December and a trial in January so things will be even worse here by the time this is printed.. 025

Winter!
Winter!

I’m sustaining myself by planning my springtime trip to Paris.  I’ve never been to Paris unless you count passing through it one day in college.  On that trip I stayed outside of the city of Paris in a little town called Meaux.  I don’t know if I was particularly hungry but the restaurant in the small hotel that I stayed in was one of the best I’d ever had. I’ve always carried that fond memory of France with me.

 

For my June trip, I’ve rented an apartment for eight days. It’s located in the  Marais district on a quiet street.  I’ve heard that the Marais is quaint, has lots of boutiques and restaurants, and encompasses both the gay district and the Jewish district, an interesting juxtaposition.

Not our things
Hem in the 20s

 

 

I’ve looked on the internet and found suggested Hemingway walks and tours.  I’m sure that many of Hemingway’s places are no longer there but I can imagine.  I’ll check out Shakespeare and Company, Montparnasse, the old home of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, the apartment where Hemingway and Hadley lived and the separate place where Hemingway rented a room to write.  I know that we all romanticize Paris of that era and it doesn’t exist anymore except with the help of Woody Allen’s admirable efforts to revive it in Midnight In Paris. However, I’m still looking forward to the trip.

Gertrude Stein and Bumby in Paris
Gertrude Stein and Bumby in Paris

 

The Sun Also Rises
The Sun Also Rises

I’ve heard that Paris is the most magical city in the world. I’ve also heard that it’s just one more big, dirty city.  I want to decide for myself.

 

If anyone has great ideas about places I should go or must see places that are Hemingway-related or just great places, please do let me know.

I'd like to see Paris before I'm too old
I’d like to see Paris before I’m too old

 

I’ve already booked dinner at a place that is featured in my new book.  It’s a restaurant called Dans Le Noir where dinner is served completely in the dark.  I’m told that it is really completely dark.  The waiters and waitresses are blind and it’s supposed to be an amazing experience of your senses.  In my new book, I’ve renamed it En La Obscuridad and made it a Spanish restaurant in New York City.  A dramatic scene takes place there so I must try the original.  As I’m clumsy anyway, this should be good: eating in the dark.

A Moveable Feast
A Moveable Feast

 

Anyway, let me know your thoughts on “must see” and “must do” events in Paris.

My Irish Connection

Windy in Dingle
Windy in Dingle

A few weeks ago, I was bemoaning how to relate my trip to Ireland in May to my Hemingway obsession and I just came across an article about a new biography of Maeve Binchy, the great Irish novelist who cultivated the cozy neighborhood story to high art and who passed away recently.  She wrote many novels, usually about the west country of Ireland which is where I was.  Her writing style, her topics, and her resolutions are/were about as far from Hemingway as you can get but the article was fun and began with a famous Hemingway belief.

Dingle Peninsula
Dingle Peninsula

“It was famously laid down by Ernest Hemingway that the first condition for a writer is to have an unhappy childhood. I assumed that Maeve Binchy was the exception to the Hemingway principle, as she always spoke about the idyllic nature of her childhood.”

http://www.independent.ie/entertainment/books-arts/memories-of-maeve-29469292.html

So, I qualify!  My childhood is a story for some other longer post, probably in some other blog that focuses on Dickensian beginnings.  I was born in NJ; my parents died 5 months apart when I was seven; the court became involved, and the story goes downhill from there in certain ways but also uphill in other ways.

Anger
Anger
My life falls apart when I'm awake!
My life falls apart when I’m awake!

Hem in some ways had a good childhood in the sense that his family was large; his father took him hunting and fishing; and there were family vacations at a lake in Michigan yearly that formed the basis of many of the short stories. Hem got his love of the outdoors and nature while on the lake in Michigan with many friends and family.  However, Hem’s relationship with his mother was always a struggle and his father was a more shadowy figure in Hem’s life, who ultimately killed himself.  His mother later sent the gun to Ernest as a gift. Huh? .

So tell me about a great writer who had a great Rockwellian childhood! I’d like to hear about it.

Love crazy
Love crazy
Intelligent and happy?
Intelligent and happy?
Cliffs of Moher
Cliffs of Moher

Interview with Hem in Spanish after Nobel Prize

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.

http://www.openculture.com/2013/04/ernest_hemingway_appears_on_cuban_tv_in_1954.html

Hemingway Myth #2: Mr. Hemingway Drinks a little

Harry's Bar
Harry’s Bar

Actually he drank a lot but it didn’t start out that way.  He drank socially although significantly.  He did not drink while working.  On one occasion when asked by a journalist if he drank while writing his novels and short stories, he said,

Drinking and working with cat

“Jeezus Christ! Have you ever heard of anyone who drank while he worked? You’re thinking of Faulkner. He does sometimes – and I can tell right in the middle of a page when he’s had his first one. Besides, who in hell would mix more than one martini at a time?”

William Faulkner
William Faulkner

Hi favorite drink, contrary to some claims, was not the mojito, but a very dry martini, very very cold. He also, contrary to other claims, did not invent the Bloody Mary (the claim being that it was named after his fourth wife, Mary), during what was to be the equivalent of a period of drinking celibacy and that he used the tomato base to disguise the vodka. Good story but not true.

Drinking began early, probably at age 17 and then more drinking while in Italy during the war. Then, once he moved to Paris with Hadley, “the cafes, bars and bal musets became rallying points, look around the table and you might see the brightest minds of the Lost Generation—F. Scott Fitzgerald insanely drunk on champagne, Ezra Pound sipping absinthe, Gertrude Stein enjoying a fine red, James Joyce savoring scotch and Ford Maddox Ford sending back a brandy for the fourth time. They drank up liquor, they drank up life, they drank up each other.” Quote from Hooching with Hemingway by Frank Rich.

Scott Fitzgerald
Scott Fitzgerald

 

Scott and Zelda from Midnight in Paris
Scott and Zelda from Midnight in Paris

Hem was highly critical of Scott Fitzgerald’s drinking in their salad days, claiming it sapped Scott’s creativity, in addition to Zelda doing the same. He was annoyed by Fitzgerald’s alcoholism and occasionally criticized his writing in public. Hem and Zelda hated each other and there was never a détente in those feelings. Hem clearly did not see himself falling deeper into the alcoholic lifestyle as the years passed.

By the time Hem left Paris, his drinking habits had changed.  “Where before he’d been a classic binge drinker, he now kept a steady bottle-killing pace. The transition had taken place just months earlier, after Hadley had lost a trunk containing most of his early work, literally years of labor. Crushed, Hemingway turned to alcohol as a means of drowning his bitter rage—when the anger came, he would slip down to the cafe and drink brandy and carouse with friends until happiness seeped back in. Quote from Hooching with Hemingway by Frank Rich

Martini: drink of choice
Martini: drink of choice

 

Hem also had fun with it.  When Jigee Viertel revealed one evening that she had never had a drink of hard liquor, Hem was astounded. When she indicated a desire to try one, he suspended all that he was doing to consider whether Jigee— now in her mid-thirties— should end her tee totaling and if so, what the proper first drink was. Hem thought she should at least try a drink. He ran down options from a Bloody Mary, to a Manhattan to various gimlets. Finally he decided only a Scotch Sour would do.  Jigee broke into a smile at the first sip, and Hem said, “It’s a good omen.”  (A.E. Hotchner Papa Hemingway Page 60-61)

A Scotch sour and a breeze!
A Scotch sour and a breeze!

Hem brought his own booze to Spain or had it supplied; he kept it on his boat in great abundance.  While he went through periods of abstinence, it never lasted and it was his pacifier of choice.  My own reading leads me to think that initially, he became even more gregarious than he normally was when he drank. Once a certain point was passed, he perhaps became overly verbose and cantankerous.  There is that thin line between wonderful raconteur and domineering ego-maniac who keeps going to the point of becoming a boor and a bore.. I don’t know if that was so in Hem’s case but I think it happened in the later years.

Drunken people crossing
Drunken people crossing

 

Sadly, alcoholism did play its role in Hem’s demise and decline. It appears to have ravaged other relatives after him too. Sad to consider other works that Hemingway may have written absent depression and alcoholism.

 

The below site talks about Hem’s drinking and some specifics.  Interesting article. Check it out.

http://www.foodrepublic.com/2012/10/30/7-things-you-didnt-know-about-ernest-hemingways-dr

http://austin.eater.com/archives/2013/04/10/modern-mixologist-tony-abouganim-on-hemingways-cocktails-brazilian-boozing-at-the-austin-food-wine-f.php