Philly Blunt

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30 June 2009

Ernest, Earnestly

So, I'm a Hemingway guy. But I'm sure you could tell that already. It's to the point, though, that on this very desk that I'm'a typing right now, there's a copy of The Old Man and the Sea, complete with a little sticker on the cover that confirms I bought it at the Hemingway House in Key West, and provides a link through which there's a live feed of the six-toed cats that pretty much run the property.
All of which is to say, "Of course I saw the story on the front page of the Sunday New York Times about how his unfinished (yet published in '64 by his fourth wife) memoir, 'A Moveable Feast,' has been re-edited by grandson Sean Hemingway and will be released as a 'restored edition' in July."
Scholars are clear that this new edition should not be regarded as definitive any more than the 1964 version. “This book can’t become a sacred text,” said Ann Douglas, a professor of literature at Columbia University, adding that “there can be no final text because there is not one.”
Indeed, scholars and aficionados have long known that Hemingway did not consider his Paris memoir complete at the time of his suicide in 1961. He wrote a letter — though it was not sent until after his death — to his publisher, Charles Scribner, that “it is not to be published the way it is and it has no end.”
But in an essay she wrote for The New York Times Book Review in May 1964, Mary said Hemingway “must have considered the book finished.” Along with Harry Brague, an editor at Scribner, she shaped the manuscript, changing the order of some chapters, and adding others that Hemingway had decided not to include. Most notably, Mary inserted that final chapter about the end of Hemingway’s first marriage.

You should read the Times piece, if only to confirm that literature can have a juicy backstory.


Blogger Jen A. Miller said...

I'm interested to read the new edition of A Moveable Feast, too. Fascinating.

I was at the Hemingway House in May...those cats are freaky.

1:19 PM  

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