A new book is coming out by Andrew Farah, called Hemingway’s Brain. Dr.
Farah is Chief of Psychiatry at the University of North Carolina Health Care System. Treading on new territory, Dr. Farah highlights these little-known facts.
1. The only variety of mental illness for which Hemingway seemed to
have compassion was shell-shock. Those of you who’ve read For Whom the Bell Tolls know that Robert Jordan – the main character – condemns his own father’s suicide, saying it’s the easy way out for cowards.
2. Hemingway’s depression was noted in his own letters as early as 1903
(he was 4 years old in 1903! so I would love to see the letter) and that he
required a “rest cure.” I’m thinking it’s a letter that Hemingway must have written later in life describing himself at 4? I’m not sure but I will read the book and find out.
3. The original manuscript of The Garden of Eden is 200,000 words and
it was edited down posthumously to 70,000 words by Scribner’s. Hemingway worked on The Garden of Eden for quite a number of years. He’d put it on the back burner and then bring it out. It dealt with what we call today a threesome – two women and a man – and sexual ambiguity and was well ahead of its time. A very interesting book.
4. F. Scott Fitzgerald once described Hemingway as having the quality
of a stick that has been hardened in a fire. I’m not quite sure what to
make of that. Did Fitzgerald mean that Hemingway was really tough or that he had been burned and became brittle as a result? Food for thought.
5. In 1936, Hemingway told Archibald MacLeish that he would never kill himself because of what the trauma might do to his sons. While we can all comment on that one and how he was not true to that narrative, I have to say that by the time he did kill himself, he was debilitated after electric
shock treatments and ongoing mental health/depressive issues.
So, we will all have to read the book to get more of the details.