Praying for Hemingway, by Augustine Himmel

Guest Post by Augustine Himmel: Very thought provoking. Augustine details his personal journey through Hemingway study. I added a few photos.

working

 Best, Christine

Praying for Hemingway

Augustine Himmel
July 01, 2017
In graduate school, a friend and I, both Hemingway aficionados, would try to stump each other by quoting lines from the famous writer’s fiction. I had a bit of an advantage because I was a few years older than my rival and had already taught Hemingway to high school students. And so, familiar with even obscure works like “A Man of the World,” which adolescents enjoyed, I never lost one of our good-natured contests. Yet despite my devotion to the Nobel Laureate, I never thought two decades later I’d be praying for his soul.

My devotion influenced my first published story, “The Man Who Thought He Was Hemingway,” and the summer after graduate school another friend and I made a pilgrimage to northern Michigan, retracing the steps young Ernest would have taken when vacationing with his family. We went to Walloon Lake in Petoskey, to Horton Bay where he loved to fish, and then on to the Upper Peninsula, to Seney and the nearby Fox, a.k.a. “Big Two-Hearted” River. After visiting Hemingway shrines during the day we would spend our evenings in the local taverns, and then around 2:30 a.m., back in the tent while my poor friend tried to sleep, I would turn on a flashlight and read Hemingway stories aloud as if they were Compline.

Michigan with Gregory

I was not Catholic then and had never heard of Compline; I did not know the Scripture verses prayed at night were selected by the church to encourage peace in the soul. Yet in my own fumbling way I sought this peace through what I was reading. And to some extent, I succeeded. For it is impossible to encounter the best of Hemingway’s stories, “Indian Camp” or “Now I Lay Me,” “The Undefeated” or “In Another Country,” without being soothed by their transcendence. Fiction is not divinely inspired, but Ralph Ellison thought so much of “In Another Country” he could recite its opening paragraph verbatim.

Pauline giving haircut

A few years after that pilgrimage I converted to Catholicism, and as I tried to move closer to God I found myself moving away from Hemingway. For a long time, before, during and after graduate school, I did not have any faith—in spite of having been blessed with a solid Lutheran upbringing. In retrospect I partially blamed the man who, in The Sun Also Rises, taught me “a bottle of wine was good company.” I knew my atheism had been a response to my mother’s rheumatoid arthritis, which struck her at 55 and turned her into an old woman overnight. I had watched her exhaustingly take care of her own mother, afflicted with the same disease, and the irony of my mother’s suffering, commencing just a year after my grandmother’s death, could not be reconciled with a loving God.
Still, hadn’t Hemingway also played a role? In addition to the lousy example he set as a hard-drinking womanizer, hadn’t he, in “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place,” penned the nihilistic and blasphemous lines of the old waiter? They are as sharp and clear as anything he ever wrote:

It was all a nothing and a man was nothing too. It was only that and light was all it needed and a certain cleanness and order. Some lived in it and never felt it but he knew it all was nada y pues nada y nada y pues nada. Our nada who art in nada, nada be thy name thy kingdom nada thy will be nada in nada as it is in nada. Give us this nada our daily nada and nadaus ournada as we nada our nadas and nada us not into nada but deliver us from nada; pues nada. Hail nothing full of nothing, nothing is with thee.

As a writer, I understood a character’s words and actions cannot be ascribed to their author. The old waiter is a fictional invention. He is not Hemingway any more than the Misfit in “A Good Man is Hard to Find” is Flannery O’Connor—even if the Misfit’s lament, “I can’t make what all I done wrong fit what all I gone through in punishment,” might well have been echoed by O’Connor or my mother and grandmother. More importantly, the old waiter’s insomnia could be viewed as resulting from his nihilism, and a reader could interpret the tale as a condemnation of that philosophy. Nonetheless, those lines from “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place” haunted me. I felt guilty for having taught that story to impressionable students.

Swimming with Pauline

So I avoided Hemingway like the other fishermen avoid Santiago in The Old Man and the Sea. Now, however, roughly a decade later, I realize I did so out of ignorance. I had bought into the myth of Hemingway propagated by our culture and, indeed, many of his biographers, rather than the truth revealed in his life and work. Far from being a nihilist, he had an interest in Catholicism even before his 1927 marriage to Pauline, and though he practiced the faith imperfectly, to say the least—four wives, several affairs—it always remained important to him and permeates much of his fiction. Santiago, after all, means St. James, and in 1954 Hemingway formally presented his Nobel Prize Medal to Our Lady of Charity, the Patroness of Cuba.

Yet I do not pray for Hemingway because he was Catholic, but rather because through his writing he has been a friend of mine, and in 1961, two years before I was born, he put the twin barrels of a shotgun against his forehead and committed suicide. He had received electro-shock treatments to combat depression, and these, combined with the serious concussions he had previously suffered, left him unable to think clearly, much less pursue the craft for which he won the Nobel. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that psychological factors like this can mitigate one’s culpability. Furthermore, it says: “We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. The Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives” (No. 2283).

Pauline and HEm

In short, there is hope for Ernest Hemingway, for all suicides, and this hope is rooted in God’s timelessness as well as his mercy. Our prayers are effective because everything stands before God in an ever-present now. God has always known that I would offer prayers in 2017 for that terrible moment in 1961. He can, therefore, assign the grace of those prayers to Hemingway in that moment, in the final millisecond of life after the trigger was pulled. My petitions before God, even 56 years after Hemingway’s death, can foster a disposition of the writer’s soul that will lead to salvation.

Hem’s bedroom

Dorothy Day understood this and prayed frequently for suicides, and we should do the same. These are souls on the margins, spiritual outcasts in need of our compassion. We should have Masses said for them, pray the Rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet for them and offer up our trials so they may attain the beatific vision. And whether we are tied to them by kinship, friendship, admiration for their brilliant writing, or just the metaphysical bond of our shared humanity, we must trust in the boundless love of God whom we know “desires all men to be saved” (1 Tim 2:4).
More: Spirituality / Books

Augustine Himmel
Augustine Himmel’s stories have been published in the Beloit Fiction Journal, South Carolina Review, Long Story, Arizona Mandala and other publications. He is currently shopping around his literary novel, If I Needed You.

 

 

 

 

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Classics simplified for kids: Not so fast!

Those of you who follow this blog may recall my post about the simplification of some of the classics for children. As I mentioned, Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, among others was put into “simple” language.

This week, a federal judge ruled that the publisher of these popular kids’ versions are infringing on the copyrights of the famous novelists. The idea was to make literary classics accessible to children as young as six. However, the estates of four literary lions (Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, Kerouac’s On the Road, Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and Arthur Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey) joined Simon & Schuster and Penguin Random House in a suit after the publisher of the kiddy books refused earlier demands to stop publishing.

The ruling was clear that this was an infringement on the copyright holders’ rights to exercise control of the publication of their works. KinderGuide Books, the division of Moppet Books that published the child versions of the classic, plans to appeal the ruling by U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff.

Breakfast at Tiffanys

KinderGuide however is continuing to move forward in publishing children’s editions of Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice, Homer’s The Odyssey, as well as biographies of Steve Jobs and Oprah Winfrey. The publisher had originally planned to do child versions of 50 classic novels, but given the legal challenges it’s facing, it has already dropped plans to publish illustrated versions of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye. Catcher in the Rye was published (sort of) by KinderGuides’ co-founder Frederik Colting in 2009 when Colting published an unauthorized sequel to Catcher in the Rye in the United Kingdom entitled 60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye. In 2011, just before his death, J.D. Salinger obtained a court order blocking the book from ever being published in the U.S.

So for the moment, the simplification, or as some have called it, the “dumbing down” of these classics has been halted.

BELOW MY DECEMBER 2016 POST ABOUT  THIS

Four classics so far have been made child friendly by KinderGuides: On The Road, by Jack Kerouac; Breakfast at Tiffany’s, by Truman Capote; Arthur C. Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey—and Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. The stories have been dramatically abbreviated and have large, colorful illustrations. Among the next four classics to be published by KinderGuides are Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, and Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice. Bear in mind, these are being read to 6 to 12-year olds. On the Road, by Jack Kerouac, blessedly omits the drugs, prostitutes and wild parties.

Jack Kerouac
Jack Kerouac
Spencer Tracy as Santiago
Spencer Tracy as Santiago

Forbes just published an article by Frank Miniter entitled “A Startling Example of How the Politically Correct Currents Pull Strongly Toward Mediocrity.” It starts out asking if Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, actually can be watered down for young readers, noting that the great dumbing down of the American mind isn’t just underway, but has become a parody of itself.

The Old Man and the Sea
The Old Man and the Sea

The KinderGuides’ version of The Old Man and the Sea begins with, “Santiago is an old fisherman who lives in a small village by the sea, on an island called Cuba. Every day he takes his boat far out into the ocean to catch fish. But after 84 days of trolling, he hasn’t caught any fish at all. He is sad.”

Frank Miniter’s article notes further that The Old Man and the Sea is a concise novella as it is, exploring man’s struggle, not just with a fish, but with his mortality. The prose in the original is hardly difficult. The real Hemingway begins, “He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the gulfstream and he had gone eighty-four days now without a fish.” If the word ‘skiff’ is a new and challenging word, there is always the dictionary. At the Forbes article goes on to note, the theme of a man’s struggling, knowing his body is failing him and that inevitably he will be a tragic figure, but that nevertheless he must face his mortality with grace, regardless, is lost in the KinderGuides’ version.

Miniter writes, “Instead of raising children’s knowledge and understanding of these things, this is another example of watering down the education of our youth. Should great paintings also be simplified into cartoon characters? How about plays and music?”

FOOD FOR THOUGHT!!

Hemingway’s First Love

Hello! This is a sweet first love letter from Hemingway to a woman with no regrets: Read on for the article below. Best, Christine

Hemingway Letters Pining For High School Love Interest Found In Marblehead

Front and rear of an envelope addressed to Frances Coates from Ernest Hemingway in 1918. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)closemore

Ernest Hemingway, the legendary author and tortured Nobel laureate, is known for works like “A Farewell to Arms” and “The Old Man and The Sea.”

His image was that of a bold adventurer and world traveler. He was an avid big game hunter, often posing next to his prey in pictures.

There’s another — and perhaps more relatable — side to the legendary author, though. It’s one of an awkward teenage suitor trying desperately to impress a girl who captured his high school heart.

Her name was Frances Elizabeth Coates. She sang opera and went to the same Oak Park, Illinois high school Hemingway attended. He played cello at the time and was enamored by Coates and her love of art.

Coates’ granddaughter, Betsy Fermano, lives in Marblehead, Mass. She kept Hemingway’s letters to her grandmother since Coates’ death in 1988. She seals the letters in a quart-sized plastic bag and was keeping them in a trunk. She only recently started dropping them off in a vault at a nearby bank when she learned they could be of value. They’re slightly yellowed but in surprisingly good condition for papers that are essentially a century old.

Betsy Fermano opens a plastic bag containing letters from Ernest Hemingway to her grandmother Frances Elizabeth Coates. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Betsy Fermano opens a plastic bag containing letters from Ernest Hemingway to her grandmother Frances Elizabeth Coates. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

“I remember my grandmother telling me about these letters, and she was very embarrassed to talk about her relationship with Ernest Hemingway — or Ernie as she always called him,” says the retired fundraising and development executive. “Because they were really close friends … and I guess Ernie wasn’t with, so I’ve heard, a lot of women, and he was really close to my grandmother, to Frances, and they spent a lot of time together.”

Elder (A Hemingway Scholar) says the preservation of Hemingway’s letters is remarkable.

“Letters from that era — from 1918, 1919 — outside the family are extremely rare,” he explained. “It’s just his voice. He is just sort of free and flirtatious with her because he’s not writing to family.”

A portion of a letter written by Ernest Hemingway to Frances Coates in 1918. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

A portion of a letter written by Ernest Hemingway to Frances Coates in 1918. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

In the letters, a young Hemingway writes from Milan, Italy during World War I. We asked Fermano to read one of the letters Hemingway wrote from his hospital bed there in 1918 as he recovers from injuries suffered while volunteering as a wartime ambulance driver. He wrote:

“Dear Frances, you see, I can’t break the old habit of writing you whenever I get a million miles away from Oak Park. Milan is so hot that the proverbial hinges of hell would be like the beads of ice on the outside of a glass of Clicquot Club by comparison. However, it has a cathedral and a dead man, Leonardi Da Vinci and some very good-looking girls, and the best beer in the Allied countries.”

Elder said Hemingway seems to be “trying to make [Frances] jealous. He’s trying to say, ‘look at all these beautiful women around me,’ and then he’s bragging about trying beer, which would’ve been sort of the ultimate sign of rebellion, because he grew up in Oak Park, which was a town sort of founded on the temperance movement and was a dry town.”

Was Coates Hemingway’s First True Love?

Photograph of a young Ernest Hemingway and Frances Elizabeth Coates on a canoe trip. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Photograph of a young Ernest Hemingway and Frances Elizabeth Coates on a canoe trip. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

“Given some of the evidence here, I think Frances Coates cared for him, but he was squarely what we call in the ‘Friend Zone,’ so if it was his first love, it was very one-sided,” explains Elder.

It was, it appears, unrequited love, then. In fact, in a letter that Francis Coates wrote to a Hemingway biographer, she described her once close friend as awkward and sensitive.

Coates went on to marry a classmate named John Grace, a future railroad executive. But Elder says apparently Hemingway, who pined over Coates as teenager, never forgot Coates — and maybe never got over her because, in fact, her name appears as a character in some of his now classic novels.

“Hemingway was good at holding grudges, and this is not really a grudge, but she is certainly someone he never forgot,” Elder says.

Hemingway apparently references Frances as a character when he’s talking about her husband, in which he writes in his novel, “To Have and Have Not”:

“He’s probably a little too good for Frances, but it will be years before Frances realizes this. Perhaps she will never realize it with luck. [This type of man] is rarely also tapped for bed. But with a lovely girl like Frances, intention counts as much as performance.”

Woo! Elder says “whether or not that was directed at [Coates], Frances definitely saw herself in that — she wrote about it, calling it a wry scene.”

Coates didn’t forget Hemingway either.

She kept his high school portrait in a gold frame in her drawer, and all of the pictures he sent her in a small envelope. Some of those are now in Marblehead as well.

So, did Francis Coates ever regret letting go of the young writer she called Ernie who later became a larger-than-life author — but who also went on to four marriages and three divorces?

Well, a little scribble on the back of an envelope may help answer that question.

“Oh, this is what she says on this envelope, ‘Ernie’s pictures. And 25 years later, ooh! Am I glad I married John!’ ” Fermano reads, laughing.

A note written by Frances Coates on the back of an envelope containing photographs of Hemingway. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

 

 

More on Hemingway’s Brain and link to Findings of NFL Research on Concussion: Different take on it all

This is a long article but the points are interesting. Some of the formatting and photos of brain functioning could not be captured so my apologies.
As those of you who follow this blog know, Hemingway was outrageously accident prone–from a young age even before you could blame it on drinking: sky lights falling on him; car accidents when he was not driving; 2 plane crashes when he was a passenger. No question, with what we know now, these episodes could well have affected his ultimate health and functioning. Please read what you have time for. This was published in the Washington Post, writer Avi Selk.
Best wishes, Christine
April 28 at 8:30 AM

In one of Ernest Hemingway’s first published stories, a man goes into the woods and meets a disfigured prizefighter — insightful, though prone to fits of paranoia and violence.

“You’re all right,” says the visitor after they’ve chatted a while.

“No, I’m not. I’m crazy,” the fighter says. “Listen, you ever been crazy?”

“No. How does it get you?”

“I don’t know. When you got it you don’t know about it.”

Nearly a century after “The Battler” was written, psychiatrist Andrew Farah contends, we would recognize that the prizefighter suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE — the same concussion-induced brain disease now infamous in sports, particularly professional football.

And the prizefighter’s renowned author had CTE, too, Farah argues in his new book, “Hemingway’s Brain.”

The psychiatrist from High Point University in North Carolina writes of nine serious blows to Hemingway’s head — from explosions to a plane crash — that were a prelude to his decline into abusive rages, “paranoia with specific and elaborate delusions” and the final violence of his suicide in 1961.

Hemingway’s bizarre behavior in his latter years (he rehearsed his death by gunshot in front of dinner guests, for example) has been blamed on iron deficiency, bipolar disorder, attention-seeking and any number of other problems.

After researching the writer’s letters, books and hospital visits, Farah is convinced that Hemingway had dementia — made worse by alcoholism and other maladies, but dominated by CTE, the improper treatment of which likely hastened his death.

“He truly is a textbook case,” Farah told The Washington Post. “His biography makes perfect sense to me in the context of multiple brain injuries.”

Farah is not the only person to make the link. A shorter discussion of head trauma in Paul Hendrickson’s biography, “Hemingway’s Boat,” convinced a reviewer that the famous writer “was probably suffering from organic brain damage.”

But Farah’s book goes deeper, mixing biography, literature and medical analysis in what he writes is “a forensic psychiatric examination of his very brain cells — the stressors, traumas, chemical insults, and biological changes — that killed a world-famous literary genius.”

Farah dates Hemingway’s first known concussion to World War I, several years before he wrote his short story, “The Battler.”

A bomb exploded about three feet from his teenage frame.

Another likely concussion came in 1928, when Hemingway yanked what he thought was a toilet chain and brought a skylight crashing down on him — causing what Farah describes as “giddy concussive ramblings … about his own blood’s smell and taste.”

Then came a car accident in London — then more injuries as a reporter during World War II, when a German antitank gun blew Hemingway into a ditch.

The psychiatrist describes his reported symptoms: double vision, memory trouble, slowed thought. And headaches that “used to come in flashes like battery fire,” Hemingway wrote in a letter.

“There was a main permanent one all the time. I nicknamed it the MLR 2(main line of resistance) and just accepted that I had it.”

These were “classic and typical” symptoms of head trauma, Farah writes.

And not the last Hemingway would suffer.

After the war: another car accident. Then a fall on his boat “Pilar,” two years before he published “The Old Man and the Sea,” which a book reviewer called Hemingway’s “last generally admired book.”

Farah did not include in his list of concussions Hemingway’s flirtations with boxing, or accounts of head injuries he could not verify or which he suspected were the author’s tall tales.

But by the time Hemingway survived two consecutive plane crashes on a 1954 safari trip — escaping the second wreck by “batter[ing] open the jammed door with his head,” Farah writes — his remarkable brain was beyond repair.

“The injuries from earlier blows resolved, but, with additional assaults, his brain developed CTE,” Farah writes.

Often — though not always — caused by concussions, chronic traumatic encephalopathy is a degenerative brain disease that can manifest as memory loss, anger, dementia and suicidal behavior — usually decades after the head blow, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

What is a concussion?

 

Play Video0:31
This video from the CDC illustrates and explains the science behind a concussion and the importance of recovery time for the human brain. (CDC via YouTube)

Unknown in Hemingway’s day, it has been found in the brains of at least 17 dead athletes, and researchers will look for it in the brain of Aaron Hernandez, a former NFL star who killed himself in prison last week while serving a murder sentence.

 

Less bizarre but perhaps more devastating to the author: his deteriorating ability to arrange words.

“The genius who had written masterpieces such as ‘A Farewell to Arms’ and ‘The Snows of Kilimanjaro’ was now paralyzed, fully in the grip of a severe mental illness” as he struggled to assemble simple sentences for his memoirs in 1961, Farah writes.

“Only an autopsy can put the 100 percent stamp of approval” on a diagnosis, Farah acknowledged to The Post. But he didn’t back down from his conclusions in the book. “The symptoms are just so obvious,” he said.

CTE accounted for about three-quarters of Hemingway’s dementia, Farah said. “The concussions, alcohol, hypertension, and pre-diabetes all contributed to the changes in Hemingway’s brain,” he writes in his book.

And a long history of suicide in Hemingway’s family couldn’t have helped the author cope with his condition, Farah said.

But he is sure that by the end of his life, Hemingway had concussion-driven dementia, not psychotic depression as his doctors believed — to tragic consequences, he writes.

But depression was not Hemingway’s main problem, Farah argues. The traumas and resulting CTE had physically changed his brain — demented and weakened it.

After a round of shock treatments in early 1961, Farah writes, Hemingway “grew more and more abusive to” his wife, “berating her because of his paranoia.”

She and some friends had to physically restrain Hemingway from shooting himself that April.

He went back to the hospital for more shock treatments.

A few days after being discharged a second time, on July 2, 1961, Hemingway woke before sunrise. He fetched his shotgun from the basement, this time with no one to stop him.

All his vulnerabilities coalesced in one final instant,” as Farah puts it.

Had he lived in the 21st century, Farah writes, Hemingway would have had an MRI scan, which might have revealed his much-abused brain was shrinking.

He would have been sent to a therapist, and told to stop drinking, to focus on his health, and “remind himself he is safe.”

He likely would have been prescribed antidepressants and vitamin B pills, and kept clear of stresses such as electric current.

Modern medicine could have saved Hemingway’s life, Farah said.

Even if not: “We would have at least understood him.”

“Hemingway’s Brain” by Andrew Farah was published in April 2017 by the University of South Carolina Press.

Hemingway’s 100 year anniversary (from High School graduation)

Young man with all of it ahead

On Saturday, June 24th, the Hemingway Foundation in Oak Park, Illinois, hosted a party to celebrate Hemingway’s graduation from high school in 1917 – 100 years ago – from Oak Park and River Forest High School.  The Foundation provided some jazz, some spoken word performances, a silent auction, and cocktails.  It has long been debated what Hemingway’s favorite drink was.  Contenders are a daquiri, a mojito, a bloody mary, and the ever-popular martini.  Solid authority supports a dry, very cold martini as his favorite. 

super cold martini
Graduation

 The Foundation also introduced their second annual publication of a collection of short stories called Hemingway Shorts, by rising writers.  The Hemingway Foundation chairman, John Barry, presented several lesser known facts about Hemingway.  If you read this blog regularly these will not be lesser known to you but bear with them. 

Intense writer

 

  1. Hemingway suffered several concussions.  There was the shell explosion in World War I, the skylight handle in Paris he mistakenly pulled which brought the window down to crash over his head leaving him with a lifelong scar that is very visible in his photos (no, he wasn’t drunk at the time!), and two plane crashes, the second of which caused the press to believe he was dead. 
Scar on left side (right as you view this)
wounded again

 2. While he was born in Oak Park, he counted downtown Chicago and Upper Michigan as home.  He honeymooned with his first wife, Hadley Richardson, in Upper Michigan on Lake Walloon, and after the war moved to Chicago for several months. 

 

 3. He burnt the candle at both ends.  Hemingway stayed up late but got up early.  His usual habit when he was writing well was to get up early and work until the early afternoon.  He’d then take a swim, go out on the Pilar, his boat, and relax with friends.  While working on a book he was very disciplined.   

Almost married to Hadley

 

  1. He wrote/typed standing up.  Due to the leg injury from shrapnel in World War I, he was more comfortable standing than sitting when working.  After the plane crashes, it was even more common for him to write while standing. 
Standing and Writing
Hem Standing
  1. He knew a fair amount about loss and starting over.  When Hemingway was married to Hadley and they were living in Paris, he was reporting for the Toronto Star.  He had been assigned to cover the Conference of Lausanne being held in Switzerland.  While there, he thought he could do some work as well as share some of his work with other journalists who might be interested.  He sent a telegram to Hadley asking that she bring some of his work.  She put all of his manuscripts in a suitcase along with the carbon copies.  Once on the train, she stepped off to buy a bottle of water and when she returned the suitcase had been stolen.  It was more than a year and a half’s work and all that was left were two short stories that were in the back of a drawer at home.  Scholars have debated whether it actually served Hemingway well to have to begin again and helped him perfect the lean style for which he is known or if it’s a huge loss to the history of his evolving style.  If anyone finds them…He did forgive Hadley, but it remained a sore spot for a long time. 
Hem, Hadley, Bumby skiing in Europe

So happy 100th anniversary of high school graduation of Ernest Hemingway.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fantastic Video Documentary of Hemingway’s Key West Home and Cats

Play and enjoy courtesy of Quincy Perkins, of Key West, Florida! Lovely look at part of the home, the cats and a bit of the cats’ history, and Quincy’s own dark humor and take on it all as a kid growing up with its aura nearby. A glittering Gem. 5 minutes of fascination. Thank you, Quincy and his creative colleagues! Best, Christine

Ezra Pound, Hemingway, Politics that split them up.

My friend Trudy found this interesting Article about the writers of Paris in the ’20s. I edited it to shorten but I think you will enjoy it. Photos added by me.

Hem, Hadley, bumby

Best, Christine

Ernest Hemingway and Ezra Pound’s friendship spanned continents—and ideologies.

Michael Hogue

Ernest Hemingway, fresh off his marriage to Hadley Richardson, his first wife, arrived in Paris in 1921. Paris was a playground for writers and artists, offering respite from the radical politics spreading across Europe. Sherwood Anderson supplied Hemingway with a letter of introduction to Ezra Pound. The two litterateurs met at Sylvia Beach’s bookshop and struck up a friendship that would shape the world of letters.

Sylvia Beach’s Bookstore

They frolicked the streets of Paris as bohemians, joined by rambunctious and disillusioned painters, aesthetes, druggies, and drinkers. They smoked opium, inhabited salons, and delighted in casual soirées, fine champagnes, expensive caviars, and robust conversations about art, literature, and the avant-garde. Pound was, through 1923, exuberant, having fallen for Olga Rudge, his soon-to-be mistress, a young concert violinist with firm breasts, shapely curves, midnight hair, and long eyebrows and eyelashes. She exuded a kind of mystical sensuality unique among eccentric highbrow musicians; Pound found her irresistible.

Ezra Pound

Pound was known for his loyalty to friends. Although he had many companions besides Hemingway—among them William Butler Yeats, James Joyce, T.S. Eliot, Marianne Moore, Robert McAlmon, Gertrude Stein, e.e. cummings, Pablo Picasso, Wyndham Lewis, T.E. Hulme, William Carlos Williams, Walter Morse Rummel, Ford Madox Ford, Jean Cocteau, and Malcolm Cowley—Hemingway arguably did more than the others to reciprocate Pound’s favors, at least during the Paris years when he promoted Pound as Pound promoted others.

Olga Rudge
Young Ezra

Pound edited Hemingway’s work, stripping his prose of excessive adjectives. Hemingway remarked that Pound had taught him “to distrust adjectives as I would later learn to distrust certain people in certain situations.”

Olga and Ezra

Pound, however, grew disillusioned with Paris, where his friends were gravitating toward socialism and communism. Paris, he decided, was not good for his waning health. Hemingway himself had been in and out of Paris, settling for a short time in Toronto. In 1923, accompanied by their wives, Pound and Hemingway undertook a walking tour of Italy. The fond memories of this rejuvenating getaway inspired Pound to return to Italy with his wife Dorothy Shakespear in 1924. They relocated, in 1925, to a picturesque hotel in Rapallo, a beautiful sea town in the province of Genoa.

Rapallo

Young Ezra

The move to Italy also effectively terminated Pound’s glory years in Paris, about which Hemingway wrote affectionately:

More than anything else, Italian politics—and the rise of fascism—damaged Hemingway’s regard for Pound, who became a zealous supporter of Mussolini and a reckless trafficker in conspiracy theories.

 Hemingway offered Pound some money, sensing that money was needed, but Pound declined it. 

The falling out was no secret, and other writers took sides. William Carlos Williams wrote to Pound in 1938, saying, “It is you, not Hemingway, in this case who is playing directly into the hands of the International Bankers.”

Archibald MacLeish helped to orchestrate Pound’s release from St. Elizabeth’s, (A mental asylum Pound had been committed to. See below as to how he got there.) drafting a letter to the government on Pound’s behalf that included Hemingway’s signature, along with those of Robert Frost and T.S. Eliot. A year later Hemingway provided a statement of support for Pound to be used in a court hearing regarding the dismissal of an indictment against Pound.

Archibald MacLeish

Hemingway awoke on the morning of July 2, 1961, put a 12-gauge, double-barreled shotgun to his head, and, alone in the foyer of his home, blew his brains out. He was 61. Pound’s friends and family didn’t tell him about Hemingway’s death, but a careless nurse did, and Pound reacted hysterically. The older of the two, Pound, at 72, was free from St. Elizabeth’s, where he’d spent 12 solemn years. He had returned to his beloved Italy to finish out his long and full life. In the autumn of 1972, he died peacefully in his sleep in Venice, the day after his birthday, which he’d spent in the company of friends.

Allen Mendenhall is an associate dean at Faulkner University Thomas Goode Jones School of Law and executive director of the Blackstone & Burke Center for Law & Liberty.

ME here: I may have over-edited re: how Ezra ended up in a psych facility.  Ezra Pound was closely aligned with the Fascists in Italy.  He was later imprisoned in Pisa by the liberating American forces in 1945 on charges of treason. In Pisa, he purportedly was placed in a small 6 x 6 cell and had a mental breakdown. He was ultimately sent to St. Elizabeth’s psychiatric hospital in Washington D.C. for 12 years. Friends including Hemingway sent money and petitions for his release which finally happened. While most acknowledged that he was a bit “crazy,” most felt he was far from any sort of danger to anyone including to his country.  Once released he returned to Italy and died in Venice eleven years after Hemingway’s death.  Christine

The Styles of the Novelists

I just read an article by Kevin Knudson, which appeared on April 30 in Forbes Magazine. It was a book review of Nabokov’s Favorite Word Is Mauve, by Ben Blatt. Noting that famous novelists write in their own particular style: Hemingway and the short sentences, Henry James and the longer ones, Virginia Woolf in the free-flowing stream of consciousness, Mr. Blatt, who’s a scientist, wanted to determine if you could figure out who the author was just by examining the pattern of his or her words.

Nabokov

 

The first chapter tackles the rule that all of us writers learned early, i.e. to use adverbs sparingly. Blatt took it to the scientific level. He took a corpus of novels written by a broad spectrum of famous writers and counts the “LY” adverbs. Here’s what you’ve got:

 

Author                           Books looked at          Adverbs per 10,000 words

Hemingway                    10                                      80

Mark Twain                    13                                      81

Amy Tan                          6                                      83

Steinbeck                        19                                      93

Vonnegut                       14                                      101

Updike                          26                                      102

Rushdie                          9                                      101

King                               51                                      105

Dickens                         20                                      108

Virginia Woolf              9                                      116

 

Blatt goes on to determine if each author is uniformly efficient or does it vary from book to book. Bringing it home to this blog, the question is:  Hemingway the most efficient or just the most efficient on average. It turns out that William Faulkner wrote three books with a lower adverb rate (As I Lay Dying, The Sound And The Fury, The Unvanquished), than Hemingway’s lowest count, To Have and Have Not.

 

Blatt also looks at the number of exclamation points per 100,000 words. Elmore Leonard once said, “You are allowed no more than 2 or 3 per 100,000 words.” He actually used 49 per 100,000, but that still made him “one of the stingiest.” Tom Wolfe used 929 per 100,000. But the “winner” is James Joyce’s 1105 per 100,000. Most clichés? James Patterson the highest; Jane Austin the lowest. In addition, Blatt looks at what words an author uses more often than the average. He set out the following requirements to judge this issue:

LOS ANGELES – MAY 24: Author Elmore Leonard poses during a portrait session prior to a reading and signing of his latest novel “Up In Honey’s Room” on May 24, 2007 at Book Soup in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Vince Bucci/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Elmore Leonard

 

  1. The word must be used in at least half of the author’s books.

 

  1. It must be used at a rate of at least once per 100,000 words.

 

  1. It must be obscure in the sense that it is not commonly used.

 

  1. It is not a proper noun.

 

Based on those criteria, Ray Bradbury’s favorite words are: icebox, dammit, exhaled. Nabokov’s favorite word was, in fact, mauve.

Ray Bradbury

 

So, some scientists have really buckled down and used their training to illuminate, and to have a bit of fun! Interesting data that’s not quite trivia.

 

Love,

Christine

 

How to Tell if You are in a Hemingway Novel

This is part of a series that Mallory Ortberg has done (how to tell if you are in a Bronte novel, etc.) I read it in THE TOAST.  I found it hilarious.  If you don’t, you probably don’t read enough Hemingway. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Best, Christine

1. Everyone you know respects you. This disgusts you.

2. The door is white and the day is hot. This pleases you.

3. A Jewish man believes you are his friend. This disgusts you.

4. You are a man. A man! A man is a man like a tree is a tree.

5. A Greek man is shouting incomprehensibly at you. This is why you are drunk.

6. You have lost something in a war. This is why you are drunk.

7. A woman is looking at you. She is wearing her hat in a manner you find unbearably independent and mannish. You despise her.

Marlene Dietrich, great pal of Hemingway

8. You are standing on top of a mountain. The mountain admires you for climbing it. You do not care what the mountain thinks of you, and you light a cigar. The cigar admires you for smoking it. You sneer casually at the sun. Somewhere there is a white door.

9. You are shooting a large animal but thinking about a woman. You cannot shoot her. This infuriates you.

10. You met a homosexual once in Paris. It took you two years snowshoeing across the backcountry in Michigan to recover.

11. You have said goodbye to a young girl with a white face on a black train. You are ready to die.

12. Waiter bring me another rum

13. You hate every single one of your friends. You have no friends. You are alone at sea. How you hate the sea, but how you respect the fish inside of it. How you hate the kelp. How indifferent you are to the coral.

Spencer Tracy as Santiago

14. Your stomach hurts; that is how you know you are alive.

15. You are standing in a river and something is coming to kill you. You will welcome it with open arms and a booming laugh when it comes.