Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald

Zelda in ballet slippers
Zelda in ballet slippers
Scott
Scott
Rue Gertrude Stein, Paris
Rue Gertrude Stein, Paris

 

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.

Zelda and Scott
Zelda and Scott

 

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.

Martini anyone?
Martini anyone?
Heim in Midnight in Paris
Hem in Midnight in Paris

 

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.

The Sun Also Rises
The Sun Also Rises

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.

Hemingway and Gellhorn
Hemingway and Gellhorn
Married to a writer
Married to a writer
Anger
Anger

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.

I don't get it.
I don’t get it.

 

Paris 1927
Paris 1927

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The play: Fitzgerald and Hemingway

http://www.bostonglobe.com/arts/theater-art/2013/08/17/imagining-joust-between-two-literary-giants/9Ik9oDj20EgVprB6911y4I/story.html

Hem in Tweed
Hem in Tweed
Scott
Scott

 

I’ll be posting about the Hemingway/Fitzgerald connection in a few weeks. However, this is timely.

I just read the above review in the New York Times. I’m a few weeks behind on my reading but this is the review of a play depicting a last meeting between Hemingway and Fitzgerald. It’s fictional and takes place in 1937, about 4 years before Fitzgerald died of a heart attack and Hem was working fairly well around that time. There is a comment that Hemingway is “slyly” trying to undermine Scott’s comeback.  I don’t know why so many commentators feel the need to emphasize–unfairly and incorrectly, in my opinion–Hemingway’s bluster and dominance.  He was all that but I see little effort to equally point out his generosity and kindness.  And while there is no question that he felt literary rivalry with Scott, there is little if any evidence that he tried to undermine him or sabotage his success. While he took a swipe at Scott in A Moveable Feast, let’s recall that Hem never edited or finished it.  It was published post-humously and edited first by Mary and a subsequent edition by his grandson. That whole section may have gone out or been amended significantly had Hemingway lived to complete it himself.

Superman
Superman

Anyway, both Hemingway and Fitzgerald continue to be a draw and to fascinate the next generation, perhaps equally for their lives and their legend as for their writing.

The Greek chorus: they love both men.
The Greek chorus: they love both men.
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Hemingway Documentary in Production

http://www.petoskeynews.com/community/pnr-production-resumes-on-hemingway-documentary-20130812,0,5488803.story

This documentary is tracking Hem’s early years  and the time spent on Walloon Lake in particular.  The Lake in some ways, as the documentary believes, served as his muse for many of the early short stories.

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Hem’s 16 Essential Books for Reading

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

“Yes.”

“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.

Hem, Mary, and AE Hotchner
Hem, Mary, and AE Hotchner
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.”

A Farewell to Arms
A Farewell to Arms
 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.

The Old Man and The Sea
The Old Man and The Sea
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Additions to the Hemingway Collection

http://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/family-scrapbooks-give-new-look-inside-pulitzer-prize-winner-ernest-hemingways-early-life/2013/07/20/ed47f14c-f166-11e2-b2e0-0ecd9d3227c0_story.html

New additions to the Hemingway Collection at the JFK library in Boston.  Looks good.  Best to all, Christine

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Hemingway and Ireland and Paris Without End

As a writer, you should not judge, you should understand.

Ernest Hemingway

I just returned from Ireland where I finished reading a book called Paris Without End: The True Story of Hemingway’s First Wife.  I loved it.

Irish Coast near Dingle
Irish Coast near Dingle

I’ve read at least five Hemingway biographies as well as the wonderful Bernice Kertin’s book called The Hemingway Women.  I nevertheless learned a great deal from this wonderful book by Gioia Diliberto.  The insights were fascinating.

As I finished the book, I thought about the irony of Hadley’s pain about being what she called “written out of” The Sun Also Rises.  Everybody appeared in some form or another in the book (Duff Twysden as Brett; Pat Guthrie as Mike Campbell; Robert Cohen was Harold Loeb; Bill Gorton was Don Ogden Stewart; and Hem was Jake–maybe) and she was nowhere to be seen.  It hurt her, although she made light of it.

Hadley
Hadley

Hem did dedicate that book to her and her son, still, she was nowhere in evidence.  The irony is that the last good writing that Hemingway did was A Moveable Feast, which was, in essence, a love poem in prose to Hadley.  While some of the past may have been romanticized, there never was any question in his mind that he did his best writing and was his best self with her and never was that again in his heart.  It is said that a page of A Moveable Feast was found in his typewriter at the locale of his suicide.

All over Ireland!  Guinness for Strength
All over Ireland! Guinness for Strength

 

Having said all of the above, I thought about whether there was a Hemingway /Ireland connection. There is not a whole lot of Hemingway in Ireland, but he does have a strong connection in his friendship with James Joyce, who, of course, is the quintessential Irish writer and poet.  In their Paris days, they engaged in quite a number of drunken sprees, although Hemingway’s drinking at the time was more excessive social drinking than what it became.  James Joyce was a small, bespeckled man, and Hemingway was a hulking, large fellow.  At more than one bar, Joyce, heavily intoxicated, would start to pick some fight verbally and, when physical threats were made, he’d wave his hand and say, “Handle it Hemingway.”  Hemingway was know to have assisted James Joyce back to his Paris flat where James Joyce’s wife would answer the door with great disgust and say, “Well, if it isn’t the two great writers, James Joyce and Ernest Hemingway.”

James Joyce
James Joyce

 

What I do think Hemingway would appreciate about Ireland is the natural beauty, the outdoorsy lifestyle, the fishing, and the rugged coast that has been kept rugged.

Pony on Aran Island
Pony on Aran Island

My own experience was that there was little affectation; the food was simple, fresh and terrific; and a conversation was always to be had if you simply began one with someone sitting next to you.

Hem never got over enjoying sitting down with local people and talking, whether it was in China, Key West, Cuba or Ketchum, Idaho.  While on a trek to China with Martha, at her instigation, he was in his element immediately talking to people just riding bikes or sitting on the dock, while she found it all too dirty and too rustic.

Martha And Hem
Martha And Hem

 

I’m not a beer drinker, so I didn’t lift a Guinness in Hem’s honor, but I did down some wonderful scotch and soda in his memory.  While much has been made of Hemingway’s macho image, Gioia Diliberto makes the point that each of his books really was a romantic love story at its heart.  Brett and Jake had a love that could never be totally fulfilled; Catherine and Frederic left everything behind to escape into Switzerland in the hope of making their life work; Maria and Robert Jordan made one of the greatest love stories ever told.  Consequently, it’s all very fitting that Ireland, the land of romance and high drama, has a Hemingway connection.

Me at the Cliffs of Moher!  Freezing in June!
Me at the Cliffs of Moher! Freezing in June!
Me in an Irish restaurant
Me in an Irish restaurant

 

 

 

 

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