Hello Papaphiles!

 

Working at the Finca
Working at the Finca

HemHello 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.

Midnight in Paris by Woody Allen
Midnight in Paris by Woody Allen

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.

The Hemingway July birthday party in my barn
The Hemingway July birthday party in my barn

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.

Hem, Hadley and Bumby

 

The Snows of Kilimanjaro
The Snows of Kilimanjaro
Me
Me
A Farewell to Arms
A Farewell to Arms

.

NO PAIN, NO GAIN Theory of Writing

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.

No Pain, no gain.
No Pain, no gain.
  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

    Writing and not standing
    Writing and not standing

3 Vladimir Nabakov liked to write in his car, hopefully while parked.

 

  1. Friedrich Schiller kept a bunch of rotting apples in his desk that filled the room with “eye watering stench.”

 

  1. Wallace Stevens jotted lines on to scraps of paper while working.

 

  1. Walter Scott wrote while on horseback. This is puzzling.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. Balzac drank 50 cups of coffee a day. I would think that would make him get up and down an awful lot.

 

  1. 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.

 

Hemingway Exhibit at the JFK Library in Boston

 In a post in November, 2015, I noted that the Hemingway exhibit was on display at the Morgan Library in New York City.  It has moved to Boston’s Kennedy Museum, where it will be until December 31st

Catherine and Frederic
Catherine and Frederic
JFK elected 1960
JFK elected 1960

As those of you who read this blog know, the largest exhibit on Hemingway’s writings, notes, memorabilia and displays is at the JFK Museum in Boston.  After Hemingway’s death, his widow, Mary, was permitted to return to their home in Cuba to gather up belongings and Hemingway possessions.  Fortunately, she took drafts of manuscripts, letters, notes and all that she could.  John Kennedy had been a fan of Hemingway and, after Hemingway’s death and then President Kennedy’s death, Mary and Jackie Kennedy met and agreed that the planned JFK Library would be the repository of the largest collection of Hemingway writings and memorabilia. 

Patrick Hemingway 2013 at Hemingway Collection
Patrick Hemingway 2013 at Hemingway Collection

I was able to get to the Morgan Exhibit but only briefly while I was in NY at a writer’s conference. I’ll be heading to Boston this summer to view the exhibit in a more leisurely fashion.  

JFK, Hemingway fan.

I’m particularly interested in the drafts of various endings to A Farewell to Arms.  Hemingway apparently penned forty-seven possible endings.  Eight of those are on display at the new exhibit.  I must admit to wishing that Catherine had survived along with the baby, but that’s not the ending Hemingway chose to go with. 

Patrick Hemingway, the only surviving child of Hemingway, was on hand on the opening day of the exhibit in Boston.  He presently makes his home in Bozeman, Montana.  

Jacqueline Kennedy
Jacqueline Kennedy

 

 

Interesting trivia:  John Kennedy wrote to Hemingway asking permission to use the phrase “Grace under pressure” in the opening of his own profiles in courage.  Hemingway agreed.  Hemingway was, however, too ill to accept President Kennedy’s invitation in January of 1961 to attend the inauguration.  During that year, he killed himself.

The real deal
In Idaho

 

Some Hemingway Trivia

  1. 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.the family

    young Ernie fishing
    young Ernie fishing

 

  1. He hated the name “Ernest.”

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. Hemingway once said of Fitzgerald that, “Scott thought that the rich are different from “you and me.” Hemingway felt they just had more money.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. Hemingway often wrote standing up. He liked it, but after the plane crashes in 1954, it hurt his back less to stand.

    Standing and Writing
    Hem Standing

 

  1. 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.

    Hem and Hadley
    Hem and Hadley

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. For five years his wife Mary insisted that his death was accidental as opposed to a suicide.

    Mary and Hem
    Mary and Hem

 

  1. Hemingway felt strongly that it was bad luck to talk about how he wrote and the writing process.

 

  1. Hemingway initially began to wear a beard due to a skin condition that made it painful to shave daily.

 

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

More about Hemingway’s Letters

For readers of Ernest Hemingway, it can be tempting to mix the iconic writer’s fictional characters with the public persona of the writer himself. He never kept a journal and apparently integrated many of his personal experiences into his art.

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.

Best, Christine

EH5598P 1940 Ernest Hemingway and Martha Gellhorn in Sun Valley, Idaho, 1940. Photographer unknown in the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.
EH5598P 1940
Ernest Hemingway and Martha Gellhorn in Sun Valley, Idaho, 1940. Photographer unknown in the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.

When More Is . . . More

Reading is my life.
Reading is my life.

Purple is not only highly coloured prose,” he wrote. “It is the world written up, intensified and made pleasurably palpable, not only to suggest the impetuous abundance of Creation, but also to add to it by showing – showing off – the expansive power of the mind itself … When the deep purple blooms, you are looking at a dimension, not a posy.”

On praise of purple prose
In praise of purple prose

This is an interesting article in praise of “purple prose,” the opposite of minimalist prose favored by Hemingway. It does not pan that prose but argues that there is a place for “more.” nice commentary. Best, Christine

More is more
More is more

The Strange Writing Habits of Writers

November is National Writing Month, so today I muse about how some writers write. Ernest Hemingway’s first rule for writers was to apply the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair. But not all authors are able to survive with such a simple approach.http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/2015/nov/14/lederer-good-time-to-reflect-art-of-writing/

Every writer has his/her own comfort place where writing is easier and better for him/her. Hemingway often wrote standing up especially after the plane accidents but he also enjoyed writing at a big table. His fourth wife, Mary, created a studio for him on the Finca property but he never took to it and preferred to write in the house. He typed but he also did a fair amount long hand and edited long hand, slashing, writing, correcting, modifying.

Hem Standing
Hem Standing

The above article is about other writers’ habits. To quote the author of the article, Richard Lederer:

Francis Bacon knelt each day before creating his greatest works. Martin Luther could not write unless his dog was lying at his feet, while Ben Jonson needed to hear his cat purring. Marcel Proust sealed out the world by lining the walls of his study with cork. Gertrude Stein and Raymond Carver wrote in their cars, while Edmond Rostand preferred to write in his bathtub.

Marcel Proust
Marcel Proust
Jack Kerouac
Jack Kerouac

 

Emily Dickinson
Emily Dickinson (NOT EMILY, I AM TOLD. See below for the real Emily)

 

Edith Wharton
Edith Wharton

Emily Dickinson hardly ever left her home and garden. Wallace Stevens composed poetry while walking to and from work each day at a Hartford, Conn., insurance company. Alexander Pope and Jean Racine could not write without first declaiming at the top of their voices. Jack Kerouac began each night of writing by kneeling in prayer and composing by candlelight. Friedrich Schiller started each of his writing sessions by opening the drawer of his desk and breathing in the fumes of the rotten apples he had stashed there.

Some writers have donned and doffed gay apparel. Early in his career, John Cheever wore a business suit as he traveled from his apartment to a room in his basement. Then he hung the suit on a hanger and wrote in his underwear. Jessamyn West wrote in bed without getting dressed, as, from time to time, did Eudora Welty, Edith Wharton, Mark Twain and Truman Capote. John McPhee worked in his bathrobe and tied its sash to the arms of his chair to keep him from even thinking about deserting his writing room.

This is me again. So you always knew writers were a weird and rare breed. I don’t have any habits that rival the above. Give me a fire, one of my dogs, and some smooth jazz and I usually can get something down.

Any other strange writing habits out there?

I lick the paper before I can write.
I lick the paper before I can write.

Best, Christine

 

 

 

ADDENDUM: An astute reader wrote to say that the above photo is not of Emily Dickenson. So much for Google image search. Here is another and I hope it is correct.  Many thanks!  C

Emily Dickenson
Emily Dickenson

Hemingway and the Iceberg Theory of Writing

The missing informs what is left
A Farewell to Arms: The missing informs what is left
Hem writing a by-line
Hem writing a by-line
If you have time, please take a look at the above article.
It is the best explanation of Hemingway’s Iceberg theory that I’ve read yet.
 The Theory is this: By leaving out details and backstory which you, the writer, know but don’t fully put on paper, the power of those unwritten details or background facts find its way into the aura and impact of the story. It is a bit like an actor who plays a cab driver and the actor makes up a whole family and biography and school history for this character, just for himself to find his center and motivation and anger or sadness.
Great article!

I want it all written out for me!  no iceberg theory!
I want it all written out for me! no iceberg theory!
Thinking
Thinking

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?