Category Archive 'Ernest Hemingway'
04 Feb 2022

“It Doesn’t Make Any Difference What They Do When You Are Gone.”

” I came by there five years ago and where I shot the pheasant there was a hot dog place and filling station and the north prairie, where we hunted snipe in the spring and skated on sloughs when they froze in the winter, was all a subdivision of mean houses, and in town, the house where I was born was gone and they had cut down the oak trees and built an apartment house close out against the street. So I was glad I went away from there as soon as I did. Because when you like to shoot and fish you have to move often and always farther out and it doesn’t make any difference what they do when you are gone.”

— E. Hemingway.

10 Oct 2021

Joan Didion Learned How to Write From Papa Hemingway

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Sarah Davidson explains in LithHub:

Didion famously said that when she was young, she learned to write by typing Hemingway’s stories. “I learned a lot about how a short sentence worked in a paragraph, how a long sentence worked. Where the commas worked.”

In an article, “Last Words,” arguing against the publication of Hemingway’s unfinished work, she quoted the first paragraph of A Farewell to Arms. Then wrote, “That paragraph, which was published in 1929, bears examination: four deceptively simple sentences, 126 words, the arrangement of which remains as mysterious and thrilling to me now as it did when I first read them… Only one of the words has three syllables. Twenty-two have two. The other 103 have one. Twenty-four of the words are ‘the,’ fifteen are ‘and.’ There are four commas.”

Now people are counting her words. I did that with the last paragraph of The Year of Magical Thinking. The paragraph has ten deceptively simple sentences, 137 words. Only two of the words have three syllables. 16 have two. The other 119 have one. 16 of the words are “the,” one is “and.” There are five commas.

Both writers used a preponderance of single-syllable words, which underscored for me the power of those drum-like single beats. Both writers were sparing with commas, but Didion did not adopt Hemingway’s repetitions of “and… and… and…” to string clauses together.

RTWT

02 Jan 2021

The Hangover and Its Cures

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Emma Hughes, in the inestimably excellent Country Life, looks at the literary cure for the common hangover.

First, she quotes Kingsley Amis’s description of the unhappy problem:

‘Dixon was alive again,’ it begins, with biblical solemnity. ‘Consciousness was upon him before he could get out of the way; not for him the slow, gracious wandering from the halls of sleep, but a summary, forcible ejection. He lay sprawled, too wicked to move, spewed up like a broken spider-crab on the tarry shingle of the morning.’

Of the proposed cures, myself, I’d prefer Papa Hemingway’s formula:

If Jeeves’s remedy is the liquid equivalent of a rap on the knuckles, Ernest Hemingway’s is a karate chop to the kidneys. True to form, he christened it Death in the Afternoon. ‘Pour one jigger of absinthe into a Champagne glass. Add iced Champagne until it attains the proper opalescent milkiness,’ he instructs—and then, even more ominously: ‘Drink three to five of these slowly.’

Death in the Afternoon

This one might sound tempting in the wake of Christmas parties, when you’re feeling festively emboldened and actually have the component parts to hand. However, all but the steeliest are likely to take one look at the noxious brew and heave it straight down the sink. Still, the very act of mixing a Death in the Afternoon is guaranteed to perk you up a bit—if only because it reminds you that things could be an awful lot worse.

RTWT

16 Sep 2020

From the Index

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Ford Maddox Ford.

I was browsing through the index of people appearing in Ford Madox Ford’s biography and suddenly:

“Ford, Ford Madox:

‘absorbs a terrifying quantity of alcohol’ (…)
accused of being his own grandfather (…)
anxiety about stupidity (…)
‘appalled at the idea of success’ (…)
‘obese cockatoo’ (…)
‘my own ugly face’ (…)
‘lumpy figure … gasping like a fish’ (…)
‘beached whale’ (…)
‘challenges Gide to a duel’ (…)
‘Conrad springs at his throat’ (…)
disagreement with Joyce about virtues of red and white wine (…)
‘Ford of many models’ (…)
‘gets stuck in a chair made by Pound’ (…)
‘inadvertently cuts his own brother’ (…)
‘names potato plants after writers’ (…)
pattern of involvement with two women at once (…)
suggests electrical voting (…)
visa for USA withdrawn: Consul believes trip is ‘for immoral purposes’ (…)“

“Hemingway, Ernest
(…)
attacks Ford and threatens to grind Eliot to a fine dry powder
(…)”

From The Fox Hunting Man.

08 Jun 2020

“Pursuit as Happiness”

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The New Yorker has got a previously unpublished fishing story by Ernest Hemingway. Good stuff!

That year we had planned to fish for marlin off the Cuban coast for a month. The month started the tenth of April and by the tenth of May we had twenty-five marlin and the charter was over. The thing to have done then would have been to buy some presents to take back to Key West and fill the Anita with just a little more expensive Cuban gas than was necessary to run across, get cleared, and go home. But the big fish had not started to run.

“Do you want to try her another month, Cap?” Mr. Josie asked. He owned the Anita and was chartering her for ten dollars a day. The standard charter price then was thirty-five a day. “If you want to stay, I can cut her to nine dollars.”

Enjoy.

28 Mar 2020

The Crazy Search for Ernest Hemingway’s 1955 Chrysler

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Hemingway’s 1955 Chrysler New Yorker as found.

David Frey, at Narratively, describes the obsessive quest for Hemingway’s Cuban car.

A silver Porsche steered James Dean into legend. A pink Cadillac escorted Elvis to Graceland. On the streets of Havana, a 1955 Chrysler New Yorker carried Ernest Hemingway to the long bar at the Floridita, which he called “the best bar in the world,” for daiquiris mixed strong and sour. A two-door convertible with chrome details across the gunwales and an Art Deco eagle over the hood, wings spread wide, this car ushered the Nobel laureate to the fishing boat that he sailed into the blue current, which he simply called “the stream.” It took him to the hilltop farmhouse where he lived among royal palms and mango trees most of the last twenty-two years of his life.

Then it disappeared.

For decades, Hemingway’s car survived only in legend. Was it still on the island? Had it been secreted away? Or was it lost to history, fallen into scrap metal? It became the automotive version of Hemingway’s missing suitcase, the one full of early manuscripts that his first wife Hadley lost in a Paris train station and never found.

“This is where Hemingway lived for twenty-one years and this was where he felt at home,” said Christopher P. Baker, a British writer who had long been on the trail of the vehicle himself. …

Baker heard the first hint about the car back in 1996 from an American who believed he was buying the legendary auto. “Somebody was selling him a joke,” Baker said. But somewhere out there, he thought, the car must exist. In 2009, he talked with the director of Cuba’s automobile museum. He told Baker he’d seen the car, but it was “hidden away.”

The alleyways of Old Havana are still full of vintage Plymouths and Packards, cars with graceful curving hoods and rocket ship fins, relics of the 1950s, when Americans descended on Cuba for its bars, brothels and casinos. More than fifty years after Castro’s socialist revolution ended the party, those old cars linger as postcards of Cuba’s past. Some gleam like they just motored off the showroom floor. Others seem held together by rust and fading paint. Hemingway’s Chrysler was lost among these fossils.

Then one day it reappeared, but before it could find a new life, it would have to endure an adventure of real-life sleuthing, an aging TV detective and Cold War politics thawing in a new millennium. …

[Hemingway] meant only to take a long vacation when he boarded the ferry to Key West on July 25, 1960. But history had other plans. Cuba nationalized private property. The U.S. launched the failed Bay of Pigs invasion the next year. In the meantime, Hemingway’s health failed. His depression deepened, and he underwent electroshock treatment at the Mayo Clinic. It didn’t help. The writer never returned to Cuba, instead settling in Idaho, where on July 2, 1961, he took his own life with a shotgun.

Castro had made clear that he was fond of Hemingway’s house, and his widow Mary donated it to the Cuban government. She gave his fishing boat, the Pilar, to Hemingway’s longtime first mate, Gregorio Fuentes. The Chrysler New Yorker went to José Luis Herrera Sotolongo, Hemingway’s doctor and friend. Nicknamed “El Feo” (the ugly one), he was a Spaniard who served as surgeon on the Republican side during the Spanish Civil War and fled to Cuba to escape the Franco regime.

In the 1970s the doctor passed the Chrysler down to his son. From there, it changed hands again, and again, and again. With each new owner, the car’s connection to Hemingway dimmed. The Chrysler disappeared into Castro’s automotive jungle, where it might have been sold for scrap, chopped for spare parts, or simply pushed, rusting, onto a junk heap. It would have stayed lost forever, had Ada Rosa Alfonso not resumed the search. …

After six years of searching, her quest came to an end just a few miles from where it began. Alfonso showed up at the home of Leopoldo Nuñez Gutiérrez, an elderly man who, like Hemingway, lived in the village of San Francisco de Paula. He led her to his backyard. Chickens and a goat strolled amid a riot of tropical plants. Scattered through the yard were ruined cars and spare parts.

The old man led her to a vehicle. It sat hidden beneath a tarp. That thin piece of fabric was the only thing protecting the car from Cuba’s sun, wind and rain. As he peeled back the tarp, the contours of an aging chassis emerged. Big round headlights like eyes. A long, broad hood. A deep trunk. Alfonso couldn’t believe what she saw.

“The car,” Alfonso said, “was a disaster.”

The New Yorker’s two-tone paint job, Navajo Orange and Desert Sand, was painted over, first in blood red, then in white. The matching leather seats were torn to shreds. The white convertible top had grayed and eroded away. Holes rusted through the floor. Like Havana’s old mansions crumbling into dust along the sea, Hemingway’s car was barely holding on.

Alfonso compared the car’s serial number to Hemingway’s insurance papers. It was a match. After some convincing, Nuñez agreed to donate the car and Alfonso had it hauled back to the Finca and stored on cement blocks, where it was left sitting again. Cuban mechanics have become magicians in the art of resuscitating American classic cars, but the parts, and the funds, they needed were all in the United States, sealed off by decades of bad blood and a U.S. blockade.

Enter David Soul.

RTWT

Video link


The hardtop looked like this in those colors.

16 Mar 2020

Hemingway in Africa, 1953

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From Shorpy’s: Papa is sitting next to Mary Welsh Hemingway, holding a Winchester pump .22 of all things, on his second trip to Africa in 1953. It looks like the gun-bearer right behind him is holding the .577 Westley Richards Double Rifle.

Hemingway had lousy luck on that trip getting to survive (barely) two plane crashes. In the second one, the plane caught fire, the door was stuck shut, and Hemingway concussed himself bashing the door open with his head.

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.

RTWT

21 Jun 2019

Would Hemingway Have Ever Worn Perfume?

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Not a bloody chance in Hell.

But here, in the Age of the Millennial, there are scrimshankers out there marketing a line of “Hemingway Accoutrements,” including, no less, a 1.7 oz (tiny!) bottle of “Ernest Hemingway Signature Eau de Parfum Cologne” for $65!

There’s clearly too much money in Brooklyn and in Portland.

Catch the ad copy:

The one-of-a-kind fragrance of the Hemingway Accoutrements Signature Eau de Parfum Cologne is a transcendent fragrance that will keep you returning time and time again.

Each satisfying inhale calms the soul with its rich, deep and sophisticated blend that opens with a surprising yet satisfying aroma of grapefruit. Very much like the citrus notes of the Daiquiri named after Ernest Hemingway himself.

While the grapefruit note lightly persists throughout it generously gives way to a complex fusion of deep bourbon, classic cedarwood, and rich full grain leather.

Underlying that richness, you’ll enjoy the warmth of honey-like amber, smooth sandalwood, fine tobacco, and Madagascar vanilla.

As you savor each whiff, you can’t help to think that this must have been the aroma that permeated the atmosphere of Papa’s Havana home.

What! no Hoppe’s Number 9?

16 May 2019

Papa Hemingway’s WWII Expense Report: $187,000 in 2019 Dollars

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Looking for his lighter, somewhere in France, WWII.

Hiring Hemingway as War Correspondent could be expensive, as Collier’s learned the hard way: “His expenses in London included $680 (about $9,700 in 2019 money) for hire of a car and chauffeur, $220 ($3,100) for laundry, newspapers and tips, and a total of $1,824 ($26,000) for entertaining officers, meals with fighter pilots and three dinners with British politicians and newspaper proprietors. … He charged the magazine for things that got lost or destroyed, including $350 ($5,000) for field glasses ruined in Schnee Eifel and a typewriter destroyed at St. Lo. His entertainment budget for this segment of the trip ran to $2,200 ($31,000).” And so on.

Columbia Journalism Review:

Collier’s, a glossy weekly with a circulation of 2.8 million, was known as a forum for stellar writing. It was perhaps the most prestigious magazine in America, rivaled only by The Saturday Evening Post. It had commissioned Hemingway to cover what are now some of the most famous events in history, including the western Allies’ invasion of France and the collapse of the Third Reich.

We might have remembered that reportage alongside the best of his fiction. But we don’t—because Hemingway’s stint at Collier’s was a disaster.

His editors in New York were unimpressed with the six articles he filed. They were heroic portrayals, as requested, but of himself as much as of the protagonists in the epic events he was covering. Though he’d proven himself a capable war correspondent in Spain, China, and elsewhere, he had grown to dislike journalism. The relationship with Collier’s was cursed from the outset, and by the end of the war it had descended into a spat over an expense claim for about $13,000—or $187,000 in today’s money.

RTWT

03 Sep 2018

“The Old Man and his Muse”

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Ernest Hemingway’s infatuation with the teen-age Venetian Adriana Ivancich inspired the great writer’s only awful book, “Across the River and into the Trees,” which reads, alas! like the cruelest kind of parody.

It’s nearly 60 years since Hemingway self-administered two ounce-and-a-quarter loads of number six shot, but books about him keep on coming. A bit earlier this summer, Andrea Di Robilant’s Autumn in Venice: Ernest Hemingway and His Last Muse hit the shelves.

In the Spectator, Nicholas Shakespear greets the British release with the kind of savage wit that the Brits are famous for.

One rainy evening in December 1948, a blue Buick emerged from the darkness of the Venetian lagoon near the village of Latisana and picked up an Italian girl — 18, jet black wet hair, slender legs — who had been waiting for hours at the crossroads. In the car, on his way to a duck shoot, was Ernest Hemingway — round puffy face, protruding stomach and, at 49, without having published a novel in a decade, somewhat past his sell-by. He apologised for being late, and offered the rain-sodden girl a shot of whisky which, being teetotal, she refused.

So did Papa, that ‘beat-up, old-looking bastard’, encounter the siren he called ‘my last and true love’: Adriana Ivancich, a mingling of Lolita and Tadzio, who appeared to him ‘as fresh as a young pine tree in the snow of the mountains’ and who went on to serve as Hemingway’s regenerative muse for his remaining 12 years.

Of course, snark is only good when it is accurate snark. Adriana Ivancich did marry well, to a rich Count, despite her youthful flirtation with the aged Papa, and her suicide in 1983 obviously had little or no connection to events nearly 40 years earlier.

RTWT

21 Jul 2018

Hemingway’s Birthday

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Ernest Miller Hemingway, July 21, 1899 – July 2, 1961.

One of his stories I like best.

BIG TWO-HEARTED RIVER

PART I

The train went on up the track out of sight, around one of the hills of burnt timber. Nick sat down on the bundle of canvas and bedding the baggage man had pitched out of the door of the baggage car. There was no town, nothing but the rails and the burned-over country. The thirteen saloons that had lined the one street of Seney had not left a trace. The foundations of the Mansion House hotel stuck up above the ground. The stone was chipped and split by the fire. It was all that was left of the town of Seney. Even the surface had been burned off the ground.

Nick looked at the burned-over stretch of hillside, where he had expected to find the scattered houses of the town and then walked down the railroad track to the bridge over the river. The river was there. It swirled against the log spires of the bridge. Nick looked down into the clear, brown water, colored from the pebbly bottom, and watched the trout keeping themselves steady in the current with wavering fins. As he watched them they changed their position again by quick angles, only to hold steady in the fast water again. Nick watched them a long time.

He watched them holding themselves with their noses into the current, many trout in deep, fast moving water, slightly distorted as he watched far down through the glassy convex surface of the pool its surface pushing and swelling smooth against the resistance of the log-driven piles of the bridge. At the bottom of the pool were the big trout. Nick did not see them at first. Then he saw them at the bottom of the pool, big trout looking to hold themselves on the gravel bottom in a varying mist of gravel and sand, raised in spurts by the current. Read the rest of this entry »

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