New Book about The Sun Also Rises: Everyone Behaves Badly

No one defined masculinity more thoroughly than Ernest Hemingway, particularly in his best years, i.e. the 30’s and 40’s. I just read a review of a new book out by Lesley M. M. Blume, called “Everybody Behaves Badly:  The True Story Behind Hemingway’s Masterpiece, The Sun Also Rises.” 

 

I always liked that quote from The Sun Also Rises. Maybe it’s just cynicism, but I prefer to think that it’s realism.  The end of that quote is “Everyone behaves badly—given the chance.”

In addition to discussing the real life people upon whom the characters in the book are based, Ms. Blume’s book discusses the issue of sexuality in “The Sun Also Rises” as well as in Hemingway’s posthumously published 1986 novel, The Garden of Eden with its gender-bending main characters well ahead of their time.  Hemingway was “one of the last authors to be a celebrity in his own right, back when ‘manly’ was a good thing.

Lesley Blume with Valerie HemingwayLMMB VH Plaza

 

The book attempts to answer the question of whether Hemingway’s persona of hyper-masculinity was real or fake and notes that “we haven’t solved the problem of how to be a man in the modern age and Hemingway was a caricature of the last generation’s attempt to do so, as Donald Trump may be of ours.” We no longer admire—thank God and for good reason—killing large animals in Africa or watching them die in bull fights. The concept of masculinity is complex and evolving.

Parenthetically, I highly recommend watching the documentary called The True Gen.  It’s about Hemingway’s friendship with Gary Cooper.  Gary Cooper apparently was always a gentlemen and Hemingway…wasn’t always restrained.  Yet, somehow they had an extremely strong friendship that lasted for a lifetime—which was a rarity for Hemingway—with Cooper at times forcing Hemingway to stop with the image and be real. Despite personalities that were almost polar opposites, both worked hard, were more sensitive that you might suspect, and hid parts of themselves for the image each wanted to project. It worked for them.  The movie is a gem and is well worth watching.I found it extremely touching. Cooper and Hemingway died 6 weeks apart: Cooper of cancer and shortly thereafter, Hemingway killed himself.

Coop
Coop

So the book by Lesley Blume sounds valuable and additive to Hemingway analysis. She knows the period well and I expect the book will ring true and be a load of fun to read.

Wife Number 3: Martha Gellhorn

Hemingway and Martha
Hemingway and Martha
Dancing
Dancing
Martha Gellhorn
Martha Gellhorn

About a year ago, I began doing posts on the wives and got sidetracked on other Hemingway issues. I posted on Hadley and Pauline, then diverted. Hemingway was married to Hadley Richardson for about seven years, i.e. 1921 to 1927. He was married to Pauline Pfeiffer from 1927 to 1940. He was married to Martha Gellhorn from 1940 to 1945. He met her in Key West when she was on vacation with her mother. Tall, attractive, ambitious, blond, smart, witty, and charming, he kept company with her first behind Pauline’s back, including when both were covering the Spanish Civil War. Martha admired his talent and bravery and he admired her looks, her talent and her courage. Hadley, Pauline, and Mary (wife no. 4) were deferential to Hemingway in the sense of wanting to please him. Martha was not. It was the one marriage he claims to have regretted and she certainly wanted nothing to do with him after the divorce.

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

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

 

While Hemingway was hard to be married to, he had a kind, sweet side as well. A biographer of Martha Gellhorn uncovered some letters recently that made clear that he was very supportive of her career and all that she accomplished and could accomplish. That being said, he was at times jealous that she would take off to go on assignments as opposed to staying with him in Cuba when he preferred to have her there.

 

Martha was a strong woman ahead of her time. She was also a good friend of Eleanor Roosevelt and was a first-rate journalist in her own right. She never had children of her own, but adopted two. When her health was to the point of not being recoverable, she killed herself in London at the age of 89

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Cuba is hot.
Cuba is hot.
Martha
Martha

 

Photos only with commentary: Part 2. The Pauline years

Pauline when working for Paris Vogue
Pauline when working for Paris Vogue
Catherine and Frederic
Catherine and Frederic
Key West
Key West
Althought after divorce from Pauline, this is all 3 boys, 2 from marriage to Pauline Ernest Hemingway with sons (Patrick, John "Bumby", and Gregory "Gigi"), at Club de Cazadores del Cerro, Cuba. Photograph in Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.
Althought after divorce from Pauline, this is all 3 boys, 2 from marriage to Pauline
Hem on beach
Hem on beach
Hem's Dining room in Key West
Hem’s Dining room in Key West

Mary Welsh Hemingway, Hemingway’s Widow

Hem and Mary in happy days
Hem and Mary in happy days

Minn. native Mary Hemingway, wife of Ernest, memorialized in Bemidji

Mary and Hem
Mary and Hem

Mary was Hemingway’s fourth wife and his widow.  She took a fair amount of abuse. I was never certain if she truly loved him that much or if she loved being Mrs. Ernest Hemingway that much.  She survived his infatuation with Adriana Ivancich, his bad behavior and heavy drinking that was the precursor to that bad behavior and she helped as ill health hit both of them, but particularly Hemingway.

Hemingway seemed to like all sorts of women but the kind that he married was level headed and smart.  He never left Pauline for Jane Kendall Mason, beautiful though she was, as she was emotionally unstable.  Hadley, Pauline, Martha, and Mary were all stable, intelligent women.  All but Hadley were journalists in their own right.  All but Martha were very deferential to Hemingway and perhaps that’s why he always said that was the one marriage he regretted.on the porch

Mary
Mary

Anyway, Mary is being honored in her hometown in MN.  All of the other three wives strangely were from St. Louis.

Married to a writer
Married to a writer
Mary's book about Papa
Mary’s book about Papa
Lovely bride
Lovely bride

The “Hemingway Bar” in Prague

A Moveable FeastFrom creating cocktails named after Hemingway’s wives, carefully selecting and crafting the beautiful interior and creating a massive selection of rums and quality absinthe, it’s been one hell of a ride

A cocktail connoisseur has just opened a bar in Prague where this is apparently a novel concept. Take a look.

The end of Something
The end of Something

Mining for Gold

 

Earlier this year, a trove of about 2,500 documents from Hemingway’s home in Cuba, Finca Vigia, were shipped to the Hemingway collection in the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston.  They were digitized and many have already been made available.  The documents include letters, lists, diaries, telegrams, insurance policies, bank statements, passports, a page of his son, Patrick’s, homework, and many Christmas cards.

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

For whom the bell tolls

For those of us who love and follow all things Hemingway, it’s an enormous boon that he was a packrat.  He seems to have saved everything.  In 2008, another group of documents and letters were sent to the library, including an alternate ending for For Whom the Bell Tolls. Robert Jordan lives?? 

In reading about the material that went to Boston, I felt sad all over again.  When Hemingway and Mary left, they didn’t know that they would not be going back.  Books were left open, shoes were left out, a Glenn Miller record was on the phonograph.

John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy

After Hemingway’s death in July of 1961, relations with Cuba could not have been much worse.  The Bay of Pigs invasion occurred in April of 1961 and our two countries were not cozy.  Nevertheless, John F. Kennedy quietly arranged for Mary Hemingway to travel to Havana and meet with Fidel Castro.  They agreed that Mary could take paintings and papers out of the country and in return, she gave the Finca Vigia and its remaining contents to the Cuban people.

The property declined significantly, but due to the efforts of the Finca Vigia Foundation, which was started by Jenny Phillips, the granddaughter of Maxwell Perkins, Hemingway’s long-time editor, the decline has been arrested.  Documents are being preserved and the house has been shored up with some repairs taking place.

Mary in older age
Mary in older age

It was interesting to read about the documentation and how it came through in a very random way.  In the middle of a folder of Christmas cards, a recipe might appear or an important letter about Hemingway’s style.  A telegram from Archibald MacLeish congratulating him on For Whom the Bell Tolls is followed by Mary’s hamburger recipes.  There are logs from his boat, the Pilar, as well as correspondence that Mary had.  According to Susan Wrynn, the curator of the Hemingway collection at the JFK Library, Mary Hemingway, while packing up papers to take back to America also burned some messages which were sent to Mary but were believed not to be written by Hemingway but by a newspaper man named Herb Clark, an old flame of Mary’s in the Paris days.  Perhaps she thought that her own correspondence wasn’t important?

Hem at typewriter
Hem at typewriter

There are also stories with edits by Hemingway critiquing his own work, noting “you can phrase things clearer and better.”  Or, “you can remove words which are unnecessary and tighten up your prose.”  All in all, it’s quite a find and addition to this amazing collection.

Intelligent and happy?
Intelligent and happy?