The Hemingway Patrol

Hemingway on Pilar

Today is the anniversary of Ernest Hemingway's birth on July 21, 1899, in Oak Park, IL

Hemingway's longtime publisher, Scribner, reissued all his novels a few years ago and books continue to be published about him. The Hemingway Patrols: Ernest Hemingway and His Hunt for U-Boats Aboard the Pilar was one I read a few summer ago. It is about that time in his life when he was itching to play a part in World War II.

Using his his own ship, the Pilar, which was designated by the military as a Q-Ship, he and his crew set out to monitor German submarine activity off Cuba and the Florida coast.I don't know exactly what anyone would have expected them to do if they actually encountered a sub with this fishing boat. There's a section of Islands in the Stream (the novel and the movie version) that deals with this period in his life.

Hemingway did get to be a war a war correspondent for Collier's magazine, and observed the D-Day invasion from offshore on a landing craft. (Apparently, his wife of that time, Martha Gellhorn, upstaged him by making it on shore on June 7 disguised as a nurse. I read more recently about his meetup with J.D. Salinger during that time.

I also reread A Moveable Feast which was re-released in a Restored Edition. It's not a novel but it is one of my favorite Hemingway books. When Hemingway committed suicide in 1961, the manuscript of this memoir wasn't finished. (No title, introduction, or final chapter.) and it wasn't published until 1964 after his fourth wife, Mary, and an editor put together the pieces.

It's about when he was young and writing in the Paris of the 1920s. When I first read it in college, I loved the talk about writing and Paris and the food and the drinking, but hated his unkind treatment of his "friend" F. Scott Fitzgerald who was another literary hero of mine.

Actually, he's also pretty rough on Gertrude Stein and Pauline Pfeiffer, who would become his second wife. He had it in for rich people then and he seemed still attached to his first wife Hadley.

In reading about this new edition, I discovered that the new editors are Pauline's grandson, Sean Hemingway, and his uncle, Patrick Hemingway (Pauline's son). I'm guessing that Pauline gets better treatment this time out, though I don't know if that was Ernest's intent.

On the Amazon website, they link to two pdf files of the original handwritten manuscript. I like this section that contains his idea about writing "one true sentence."

I know a number of people who really dislike Hemingway as a man and as a writer. Most of them are women who have issues with his macho image and his female characters. I have liked his writing, especially the short stories, since I was about 14 and wanted to be a writer.

I actually feel bad for Hemingway. I think he was really misunderstood. I think he became a victim of his own celebrity and began to play the role of Hemingway in the same way as other celebrities, like Marilyn Monroe.

He was a heavy drinker, an alcoholic in his later years, suffered from manic depression. He was actually given electroshock therapy at the Mayo Clinic which he blamed for his memory loss. It saddens me to think that for someone like him who loved to write, who needed to write, could not go on if he could not write.

Hemingway is buried in Ketchum, Idaho, but on a memorial outside town overlooking Trail Creek is a eulogy he actually wrote for a friend (Gene Van Guilder) but that applies well to his own life.

Best of all he loved the fall
The leaves yellow on the cottonwoods
Leaves floating on the trout streams
And above the hills
The high blue windless skies
Now he will be a part of them forever

No comments:

Post a Comment