05 Dec 2019

Great Writers Who Owned Great Guns

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Papa Hemingway looks down the barrels of his .577 Westley Richards Double Rifle.

Sporting Classics points out that Turgenev owned a Joseph Lang, Hemingway the above Westley Richards, and Karen Blixen (Isak Dineson) a Rigby.

Russian author Ivan Turgenev, whose efforts to free the serfs produced the Sportsman’s Sketches, bought a Joseph Lang gun. Ernest Hemingway acquired a Westley Richards while Isak Dinesen, famed for her farm in Africa, was gifted a John Rigby.

“Turgenev had discovered the existence of the gunsmith Joseph Lang, of Cockspur Street,” wrote biographer Patrick Waddington in Turgenev and England. “Some years earlier, Lang had brought to Britain the new Lefaucheux shotgun and made some improvements in its performance. For Turgenev, ‘Leng’ (as he pronounced the name) was simply the world’s best craftsman.” The Russian émigré paid £41 for his breechloader and wrote: “How beautiful it is! It makes you feel like going down on your knees! And what an aim it has!” In reality, the “aim” took some adjustment since Turgenev fired 50 shots to bag just 11 brace while walking up grouse on the 12th at Fincastle near Pitlochry in 1871.

Turgenev’s clipped sentences and snapshot characterization influenced Ernest Hemingway’s writing sometime after Sylvia Beach encouraged Papa to read Sportsman’s Sketches. Hemingway borrowed the book often from Beach’s Left Bank lending library and appeared to have learned its lessons well.


One Feedback on "Great Writers Who Owned Great Guns"

Fusil Darne

Did the story mention that Castro and the revolution borrowed Ernesto’s guns, and, doing as commies everywhere do, destroyed them through neglect?


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