I mentioned last post that I’ve been re-reading Hemingway’s novels. I finished A Farewell to Arms and Across the River and into the Woods. I found so much more to love in A Farewell to Arms than my first few times around. While Catherine is dated in her attitude and her fawning for love, she still was working, living on her own, and in love. Frederic goes from looking for a fun time so loving Catherine deeply. I loved the scenes with Rinaldi and when he calls Frederic “baby.” Wonderful novel.
Across the River was not on the “best” list, At times, I found it hard to get through but it picked up in the end and I liked it but didn’t understand what The Colonel saw in Renata. She was young and beautiful but vapid and not even very spirited. However, Hemingway too was in love when writing it and Adriana, his prototype for Renata,was being seen through his eye. Still not a favorite. I liked the sense of Venice but not too much else.
Read “Hemingway’s Best Novels” for yourself. Link below.
This was a fun article to read. The comments were just as much fun because everyone has an opinion. It is interesting to see which novels are preferred, and whether only purists love the short stories best. I found the insights to be illuminating. My favorite novel is For whom the Bell Tolls, and among the short stories, I love The Snows of Kilimanjaro and A Clean Well-Lighted Place. The end of Something is also one I reread often.
I just finished a book about the life of Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald called “Z.” It was interesting. Zelda’shatred for Hemingway came across loud and clear. I know that it’s historically true. However, there’s a claim that Hemingway came on to her, which didn’t strike me as true based on all that I’ve read and Hem’s feelings toward/against her. And there’s another portion in which she wonders if her husband, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Hemingway were closet homosexuals who had an attraction to each other. I don’t know that much about F. Scott Fitzgerald, but there’s not anything in the volumes that I’ve read about Hemingway and his past that would even slightly suggest that. I’ve read all of the hypotheses that Hemingway went ultra-macho to compensate for homosexual feelings. I don’t see that but everyone can have an opinion. Those comments aside, I found that I had sympathy for Zelda’s plight and her frustration in her life with F. Scott Fitzgerald.
I also couldn’t help comparing Fitzgerald, of course, to Hemingway. When Hemingway met Fitzgerald, Fitzgerald was the star, having come off of a great success with The Beautiful and Damned. His short stories were successfully being sold and some were going to Hollywood. F. Scott Fitzgerald was generous with his time and advice to Hemingway and they remained really close friends for a long time before something of quiet falling out occurred, probably due to normal as opposed to cut-throat literary rivalry and partly due to Hemingway’s disgust with F. Scott Fitzgerald’s drinking and Zelda. Whatever else you can say about Hemingway and his later serious problems with the bottle, for most of his career, he was very disciplined when it came to writing. He often stopped drinking for some significant periods of time while writing and he didn’t drink during the day while he was getting his words down on paper. Fitzgerald began to drink daily from morning on and for many years, didn’t even try to write.
I also gathered from “Z” that the ragefulness between Zelda and Fitzgerald went on for years and they both treated each other badly. It was a sort of recreational warfare. That behavior certainly didn’t occur between Hemingway and Hadley. I think there was some bitterness in his fighting with Pauline (second wife) in the end, but not the low blows Zelda and Scott hurled. Hemingway generally felt guilty at the end of a relationship and didn’t rant and rave at his soon to be ex-wife.
His relationship with Martha (third wife) was an exception because it did become volatile. Certainly there was anger and insults with Mary (fourth wife) and they might have divorced had Hem lived longer. With the exception of Martha, Hem’s other three wives never tried to compete with him and perhaps that was what he was looking for in a woman. He tended to prefer stable, smart, but non-challenging women. Further, he was married four times, whereas Fitzgerald and Zelda were only married once, although affairs did occur in the marriage.
I liked the book and I felt for Zelda, which I didn’t expect. It was interesting to read another perspective on the jazz age, and the whole lost generation crowd in Paris, including the Murphys, Gertrude Stein, John Dos Passos, Ford Madox Ford, Picasso.
You might try it. It’s an easy read and Hemingway features prominently.
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.
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.
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, A Moveable Feast
Everyone’s commented on it: Hemingway’s preoccupation with women’s hair. Hemingway’s mother, Grace, whom he purported to hate, had auburn hair that was her pride and joy. She wore it often in the Gibson girl style of the day and was quite proud of it. In almost every work of fiction that Hemingway has written–and nonfiction if you want to count A Moveable Feast–the time spent on the description of any of the main woman’s character’s hair is significant.
Lady Brett Ashley in The Sun Also Rises had short, swept back hair. She wears it cut “short like a man.” Catherine Barclay had soft hair and “wonderfully beautiful hair. I would lie sometimes watching her twist it up in the in the light that came in the open door and it shone even in the night as water shines sometimes just before it is really daylight.”
Maria, whom Robert Jordan called the rabbit because of her short-cropped hair cut off by the Fascists who gagged her with her own braids which was growing out, had hair the “color of wheat.” See above, Ingrid Bergman as Maria. Gary Cooper as Robert Jordan. In The Garden of Eden, the wife cuts her hair to match her husband’s and they both are attracted to the same woman. The Garden of Eden, however, was published posthumously and as I’ve noted in earlier posts, I don’t think the same standards can be applied to something published after the author’s death since clearly he hadn’t felt it was ready to be published at the time of his death. A huge editing may have been in the offing.
In his actual life, Hadley had lovely red hair. Shortly after their marriage she cut it short. It’s not clear whether she did so to please Hemingway or just for ease of care after she had Bumby. Hemingway seems to be one of the few men who prefer women with short hair.
Pauline had a boyishly short pixie cut. She had very dark hair and it was quite stylish on her. Hemingway liked it. At one point during their marriage, when he was clearly attracted to Jane Mason, a socialite and a stunning, legendary strawberry blond, Pauline dyed her hair blond and arrived home with this completely new look. There is no record of whether Hemingway liked it or reacted to it but she didn’t keep it blond for very long.
Martha had swinging long, blond hair when Hem met her which at times was shorter. Mary had short, swept back curly blond hair that framed her face.
From their first meeting, Hemingway and Gertrude Stein were simpatico. They did have a falling out several years later and despite the fact that Gertrude Stein clearly was living in a lesbian relationship with Alice B. Toklas, he maintained that there was a true animal attraction and that at least from his end he would have liked to have consummated the relationship had the situation been different. He describes Gertrude as having lovely dark immigrant hair and the sentiment is one of admiration. Her hair also was short and swept back at times, a style Hem favored, and at other times, longer and pinned up.
Scholars have pondered for years about whether this preoccupation came from the fact that Hemingway’s mother dressed him in girl’s clothes from a young age. She often represented to outsiders that he and his sister, Marcelline, were twins (they were about a year apart) and Grace maintained his hair at a feminine length. On occasion she called him Ernestine until he was about 6-years old. At that point he rebelled and demanded a hair cut and boy’s clothes as well as to be called by his real name. We can get psychological about the implications but as we all know, he grew up to be the icon of masculine virility.
While too much can be made of this element of Hemingway’s writing, it is something to think about and it is an interesting theme that runs through the novels in particular.
Hemingway’s big novels have all been made into movies, some several times. He
claims to have hated to go to see his books as cinema. Aside from enjoying the paycheck that came with the adaptations, (he was paid $ 80,000 for A Farewell to Arms in 1932, which was an enormous sum in those day and $ 150,000 for the rights to The Old Man and the Sea in 1958) he was disturbed to see the ending of A Farewell to Arms altered in the first movie version. Death is apparently unacceptable and well, a downer, we know, but that was the true ending. David O. Selznick did better in the 1955 version but Hem was still not thrilled. The entire production of The Old Man and the Sea was a frightening tug of war among all involved.
“Hollywood only made the kind of pictures that people wanted to see and the public had bad taste”, Hem opined.
Still, over fifteen of his short stories and novels were adapted for movies, and Hemingway became a Hollywood star leading to a major gripe he had with Hollywood: that it had no respect for his need for privacy and he became a product available for marketing or, put less benignly, image exploitation. He did not like that one bit.
A few of the novels/short stories that were made into film were:
A Farewell to Arms (1932): Gary Cooper, Helen Hayes ( The ending was changed so that Catherine lived. More recent adaptation called InLove and War with Sandra Bullock and Chris O’Donnell.
For Whom the Bell Tolls(1943): Gary Cooper, Ingrid Bergman
To Have and Have Not (1944): Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall
The Snows of Kilimanjaro (1952): Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, Susan Hayward. Ending changed so that Gregory Peck lives.
The Sun Also Rises (1957): Ava Gardner, Tyrone Power, Errol Flynn.
The Old Man and the Sea(1958): Spencer Tracy. Anthony Quinn and Tracy had lobbied hard for the role and Tracy won out. Hemingway thought he was too portly for the role of the gaunt Santiago. This movie was two years in development and another two years in production. It was beset with troubles upon troubles despite being a one character story. Hemingway’s contempt for Hollywood was well known but he reacted badly to the first screenplay by Paul Osborn which eliminated all flashbacks and narration and added whole new scenes. Hemingway insisted that Osborn be replaced by Peter Viertel, who had adapted the Sun Also Rises to the screen. Hemingway was named technical advisor. The movie ultimately garnered respect and Academy Award nominations but not before Spencer Tracy almost walked off the set, started drinking during the filming, and tore up a bar with Hemingway.
Ultimately, Hemingway was cynical about Hollywood and his literature. He once said “that the best way for a writer to deal with Hollywood was to meet the producers at the California state line, throw them your book, they throw you the money. Then you jump into your car and drive like hell back the way you came.” Oliver. A Hemingway Retrospective.
All was not a loss however. He met Marlene Dietrich, Ava Gardner, Gary Cooper, Howard Hawkes, and Ingrid Bergman, who all became close friends, especially Gary Cooper.
Next post, I’m going to suggest who could play these roles in modern versions. I have ideas and am interested in yours!
You love both and you lie and hate it. It destroys you and every day is more dangerous and you work harder and when you come out from your work you know what is happening is impossible, but you live day to day as in a war. Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast
It’s a story as old as the ages. Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl, girl loses boy to other girl. It always seemed to me that Hem loved Hadley best. It could just be that Hem and Hadley were together at the beginning, before he was THE Ernest Hemingway. She loved him when he was just Wemedge, Tatie, and Ernie. She willingly used her modest trust to fund their life in Paris, a truly fruitful time for Hemingway in terms of creativity, useful alliances and friendships, and ambiance. While Hem had been in love before, most notably with Agnes Von Kurowsky, the nurse in Italy (more of her in some other post perhaps), Hadley and Hem seemed connected at the hip in the early years. Even when Hem was not thrilled by the announcement of a baby being on the way, he by all reports adored Jack aka Bumby and was a good father to all three of his boys. His longing for a daughter remained always unfulfilled. But I digress. ( Feel free to guest post, by the way.)
Pauline has been portrayed as a Mata Hari sort of figure in most biographies including the originally edited version of A Moveable Feast. Mary, Hem’s fourth wife, edited the first version and chose the title, which is a tour de force. The first version was published in 1964 just three years after Papa’s death in July 1961 and Mary was known for protecting the Hemingway legacy fiercely—not that that’s a bad thing. It is clear that her view of the past colored the decisions as to which incidents were included in the book and which were not. However, that being said, she also must have had some insight into how Papa experienced those events as they had a long marriage and Papa was a reconteur. I presume Mary heard a lot about the Paris years.
The new version of A Moveable Feast , published by Hemingway’s regular publisher, Scribner’s, was edited by Sean Hemingway, son of Patrick Hemingway, one of Hem’s son with Pauline. It is more generous to Pauline. The new version allegedly presents material in a truer, less edited form and relies on a typed manuscript that is said to have been the last draft that Hem worked on, with his original handwritten notations followed more truly. One famous passage about Hemingway’s pain at still loving loyal Hadley but being in love with Pauline with whom he has just had a tryst reads:
When I saw my wife again standing by the tracks as the train came in by the piled logs at the station, I wished I had died before I ever loved anyone but her. She was smiling, the sun on her lovely face tanned by the snow and sun, beautifully built, her hair red gold in the sun, grown out all winter awkwardly and beautifully, and Mr. Bumby standing with her, blond and chunky and with winter cheeks looking like a good Vorarlberg boy.
Hemingway did not include this episode in his final manuscript but rather in other notes and it was Mary who included it at the book’s end where it packs a punch.
For those interested in legal “stuff”—and I am—Hem had little in the way of money when he and Hadley divorced. It was 1926 and The Sun Also Rises was about to be published. Hem wrote the first draft in eight weeks and all of his cronies were in it except Hadley–which hurt her. After the divorce hit, Hem wrote to Hadley offering her the royalties for life as alimony and child support for Bumby. At that point, no one knew if the book would flop and earn nothing or . . . be what it ended up being. As it turned out, it was the gift that kept giving. Hadley, ever gracious, accepted with no recriminations. She had faith in him but it also was just not her way to push and accuse. (Hadley went on to have a long, happy marriage but no more children. Margaux and Mariel Hemingway were her grandaughters, Jack’s chidlren. She died in 1979; Pauline passed in 1951 and that’s definitely another post.) The Paris years provided writing material to Hem forever in different iterations.
Hem dedicated The Sun Also Rises to Hadley and John Hadley Nicanor in a final gesture of respect and love, regret and loss. (This book is for Hadley and John Hadley Nicanor.) The “Nicanor” was the name of a Spanish matador Nicanor Villalta y Serris, whom Hem had taken a shine to the year of Jack’s birth.
Hem moved on to a wealthier woman in Pauline who could fund his writing although I never saw Hem as an opportunist in that way. Money was part of Pauline’s package and mystique but he loved her and wanted her not because of that. It just came with her.
There will be more about Hem and his divorces and wives in the future, but the first seems to have been sweeter than the rest, to quote Joan Osborne.