Monday, October 5, 2015

ERNEST HEMINGWAY Between Two Wars: Review by Polly Guerin

Author: Ernest Hemingway   
Why does Ernest Hemingway matter? Well, the Morgan Library and Museum's recent exhibit, Ernest Hemingway: Between Two Wars clearly reminds us that this is the first museum exhibit devoted to one of the most celebrated writers of the twentieth century.
     In 1917 he took a job, a short stint, as a cub reporter for The Kansas City Star, where he learned the essentials of good writing from the newspaper's style sheet: "Use short sentences, use short first paragraphs, and eliminate every superfluous word:," and the precepts he learned there shaped his literary style that endured forever.
       His direct, spare style of writing influenced successive generations of author's around the world and tens of millions would read his books and never forget the stories and characters in such masterpieces as The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, For Whom the Bell Tolls, which are among the best known and acclaimed books of the modern era. They focused on recurring war themes that he derived from his first-hand participation and later as a war correspondent.
     In 1925, for example, in 1925 he told F. Scott Fitzgerald, "The reason you are so missed the war, because war is the best subject of all. It groups the maximum of material and speeds up the action and brings out all sorts of stuff that normally you have to wait a lifetime to get."
      The exhibition provides a rare insight into Hemingway's creative process, from 1918 to the aftermath of World War II--and the finality of death--with grace and courage.His experiences as a war casualty shaped numerous short stories and novels.
     This a a rare opportunity to view almost one hundred rarely exhibited manuscripts and letters, photographs, drafts and typescripts of stories, first editions and artifacts from the author's life. In the beginning, wherever he was, he often used cheap notepads or scraps of papers, even letterheads to write with pencil in hand.
Ernest Hemingway recovering in Milan
      Upon entering the gallery  there is a big blowup of a handsome eighteen year old Hemingway as a solder in 1918 when he was serving as a volunteer with the Red Cross on the Italian Front During World War I. He was recovering from shrapnel wounds at a Red Cross hospital in Milan, Italy. War would engage his writing interest and this is the first time the author tried to turn his wartime experiences into fiction. Later he wrote on Red Cross stationery, "When you go to war as a boy you have a great illusion of immortality. Other people get killed; not you. Then when you are badly wounded the first time you lose the illusion and you know it can happen."
     In the early 1920s Hemingway was determined to make his living as a writer and moved to Paris with his wife Hadley Richardson. This move that would bring him into a constellation of friends including F. Scott Fitzgerald, James Joyce, Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, Pablo Picasso among others at Sylvia Beach's legendary bookstore, Shakespeare and Company, which served as a gathering place. In Paris Hemingway transformed himself from a journalist into a writer of fiction and would launch a career that saw the completion of five novels, short stories and poetry.. Image right: Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.
First Page: A Farewell to Arms 
 Hemingway resided in Paris until the end of 1929. and for the next ten years he lived mostly in Key West, Florida with his second wife Pauline. In the spring of 1939, Martha Gellhorn, who would become his third wife, rented a farmhouse, the Finca Vigia near Havana. No wonder, The exhibits walls are painted tropical blue to suggest his years in Key West and in Cuba. And, oh yes, Hemingway's literary fame grew steadily in the 1930's on the heels of the highly successful 1929 publication of Farewell to Arms, which he completed in Key West. Image left: First page of autograph manuscript of A Farewell to Arms, Charles Scribner's Sons,1929. Reprinted with the permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc.(c) 1929..
     His own first-hand knowledge of war, and it fatal dangers, did not keep Hemingway at home in 1944, upon returning to Europe to report the war for Collier's magazine, he explained his presence at the war front by saying, "I got war fever like the measles."
    Ta Ta Darlings!!! Sadly depression and deteriorating health took their toll on his creativity. However in 1954 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature, "for his mastery of the art of narrative...and for the influence that he has exerted on contemporary style."  Fan mail welcome at
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