Thursday, October 20, 2011


Vanity Fair's October 2011 issue chronicles the harried journey of modern writers; Angelina Jolie's gravitas infused screenwriting and directorial debut, In the Land of Blood and Honey, highlighting the systemic ethnic cleansing and the brutal gendered [female] victimization rampant during the early 1990's Bosnian War; and letters from Hemingway - Spain to Paris, Tanzania, to Key West, to Cuba, Hemingway caught marlin, fought bulls, bagged big game, reported wars, chased Nazi U-boats, skied, hunted, survived a plane crash only to read his own obituary, and became the fifth American to win the Nobel Prize for Literature -the Teddy Roosevelt of 20th century novelists.

To engage his fervor, Hemingway married [his third wife] a striking writer named Martha Gellhorn. Brains and beauty and with deeper political convictions than he, at her urging, they had both covered the Spanish Civil War and moved in together in Cuba to serve as mutual intellectual and artistic stimulation.

The kinetic and gamine Gelhorn  jumped ship a few years in to the marriage, decades later risibly explaining to a journalist "He was entering this great ‘Papa’ phase, and I wasn’t looking for a Papa!” (Vanity Fair)

Before he romanced literary femme fatales, Hemingway wrote jocularly charming correspondence to his first wife Hadley Richardson.

These are the letters that are appreciated - anecdotal, full of good humor and affection. I dig it.


To Hadley Richardson, December 23, 1920

I’d be much happier too Hash [one of Hadley’s nicknames] Darling—but I can’t come— You see I hate and loathe and despise to talk about seeds [money] but I haven’t been home since 1915 I think and so I more or less threw a fairly decent Christmas for the kids and am consequently broke— Embarrassing of course. Could have much easier lied to you and mentioned acceptance of half a dozen New Years dates—all of which I’d have thrown out in a minute for a sight of you—but have always had this beautiful truth talking habit with you—
You can make me jealous—and you can hurt most awfully—’cause my loving you is a chink in the armour of telling the world to go to hell and you can thrust a sword into it at any time—
Hate to think of you going to the party with Dick [the brother of one of Hadley’s friends] instead of mebut I’m broke because of the Lord’s birthday! S’ Not a question of regard for seeds or anything you know—but why go into it?
Feel terribly bad—but I’ve shot my Toronto check—wont have another till the 15th of January—am in the intervening ones with Six members of the famille—
At present there’s someone or other snoring in the big bed—we threw quite a party to speed Saltzenbeck south. Gin hacks—Don [Wright, a friend] corked his Christmas Scotch and a bottle or so of port. I hate gin! Onct it done me wrong.
Saw tragedy tonight. I was in a drug shop opposite the Marigold Gardens [a beer garden on Chicago’s North Side] and a girl was telephoning in a booth. She was kidding some one over the wire, lips smiling. And talking cheerily away and all the time dabbing her eyes with a handkerchief— Poor kid it was terrible bad whatever it was.

Dear Hash you can surely hurt me a lot when you want to. About the platform and the train [he had declined to kiss her before her train left]. Lord— I thot I was loving you— If I wasnt I never could and never would love any one. Guess I was thinking too much about how I didn’t want you to go— Don’t you believe I love you? Dunno how I can make you believe.

I didn’t want to kiss you goodbye—that was the trouble— I wanted to kiss you good night—and there’s a lot of difference. 'Couldn’t bear the thought of you going away when you were so very dear and necessary and all pervading.

Suppose when you tell me how nice Dick is and so on I ought to counter with how enjoyable it is to dance with Maydlyn and how nice she looks top-side of a horse and so on—but when I think of anyone in comparison with you it’s like— You are so much dearer and I love you so much— that what odds kidding along about them.

'Course I love you— I Love you all the time—when I wake up in the morning and have to climb out of bed and splash around and shave— I look at your picture and think about you—and that’s a pretty deadly part of day as you know and a good test of loving any one.

And in the evening— It’s too much to stand— Sure go on—go to the party with Dick but maybe once pretend I’m there—

’Night my dearest Hash— I’d like to hold you so and kiss you so that you wouldn’t doubt whether I wanted to or not—

Love you—

Sera [Night]


[Eager to return to Europe, Hemingway had been trying to persuade the Toronto Star, where he was a freelancer, to send him to Italy as an overseas correspondent. But when he befriended Sherwood Anderson, in the spring of 1921, the American novelist advised him to go to Paris instead. Shortly after Hemingway and Hadley were married, on September 3, 1921, they sailed for France and, by the beginning of January, had found an apartment—financed with Hadley’s small inheritance—on Paris’s Left Bank. - Vanity Fair]

[Photos from Vanity Fair]

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