I decided it was time to re-read Hemingway. I’ve read all of it but lately have been reading more books about him instead of reading him. I just finished Mary (wife 4) Hemingway’s How It Was for the second time. It had been widely criticized as self-serving and not insightful. For me, it still was very interesting to see Mary’s point of view and I thoroughly enjoyed hearing about events that I knew much about but this time from Mary’s perspective. She is a complicated figure and that’s for another post. She put up with a lot of verbal abuse from Hem but also seems to have wanted to be “Hemingway’s Wife,” and for that, she endured. She was loyal, and despite some bad times, stayed.

Mary in older age
Mary in older age
Mary's book
Mary’s book

Within the past six months, I also have read Hemingway’s Cats and Hemingway and Fitzgerald..  I loved the animal book as much as anything I’ve read about Hemingway. It’s not scholarly but it’s human and I am an  animal person so I  melted into the book. I love that Hem loved his animals like family members and he valued their presence in his life.

Hem, boys, and cat
Hem, boys, and cat

A month ago,I began reading the short stories again. I read slowly and

Scott
Scott

found new meaning and layers in this go-round. Favorite: The Snows of Kilimanjaro.  I’m now tackling A Farewell to Arms. I’m listening to it on an audio tape because I find it lets me listen and focus on the words and the sentence structure as opposed to being distracted.

Hem, Martha, boys
Hem, Martha, boys

In listening, I am finding that there is so much that I missed or that I’d forgotten.  Despite my affinity for Hemingway, I don’t like war stories as a rule.  However, listening to the dialogue, I became completely engrossed in the maneuvers of Hemingway’s unit/Frederic Henry’s unit and his cohorts with him. I love Rinaldi and the way he calls Frederic “baby.” I loved the love story.

The descriptions are beautiful and immediate and while by modern standards, the romance and the dialogue between Frederic and Catherine are dated, the emotional wallop is still there.

A Farewell to Arms
A Farewell to Arms

Next up is Across The River and into the Trees, Hemingway’s most maligned novel for which Adrianna Ivancich was his muse.  As he was writing it, Hemingway apparently thought it was going to be one of his best.  The reviews were brutal.  I haven’t read that one in a long time and I want to see if it’s as bad as all that.

So:  Do you have a favorite short story?  A Clean, Well-Lighted Place is probably my favorite but The Snows of Kilimanjaro is the pinnacle for me–very different lengths–those two–but wow, in 3 pages, what he did in A Clean Well-Lighted Place.

Kilimanjaro
Kilimanjaro

6 Responses

  1. Thank you Christine for this insight into some of Hemingway’s books.
    In 2020 I gobbled up a number of books about him I have one more waiting on the book shelf.
    Every Body Behaves Badly. By
    Lasley M. M. Blume At some point I would like to read How it was by
    Mary Welsh . I have not read many works by Hem but will look for Kilimonjaro at the book store today.
    I look forward to your posts.
    All the best…..

    1. Dear Pamela! good to hear from you. I liked Everybody Behaves Badly quite a bit but i am particularly interested in the Paris/Hadley era. Kilimanjaro is an amazing story. I think you will get lost in it and what it evokes about love, grief, regrets, cruelty, kindness. very atmospheric. Best to you and thank you always for reading! Warmest wishes, Christine

  2. Hello Christine –

    ” Big Two-Hearted River” is my favorite short story by Hemingway. I also recommend ‘The Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway : Critical Essays’ and also ‘New Critical Approaches to the Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway’.

    Although written by academics, the essays are easily readable and offer insights into many of Hemingway’s stories – I found both books enjoyable. I purchased the books used from Amazon at quite reasonable prices.

    I agree with you concerning Mary’s book. Hemingway treated her fairly realistically in ‘True at First Light’ – I was able to associate her personality as the wife and writer of the biography of Hemingway.

    1. Good morning, Timothy. Big Two-Hearted River is an amazing story. As someone said to me, the short story form is so unforgiving. Each word counts and can’t be wasted. In a novel, there can be some lulls but as short story has to be tight. there is so much in all of his works. i just finished Over the River and Into the Trees and i know it was savaged by the critics but it was not all bad. There were some glints of gold there. Hope you have a great weekend and thank you for writing and reading. Best wishes, Christine

  3. No book beats “A Farewell to Arms.”

    “Hemingway’s Boat” is exceptional.

    For something completely different, try “Hemingway’s Tribute to Soil.”

    1. Dear Robert: I agree. And i loved Hemingnway’s Boat as well. It illuminated Hemingway lore and history from a different angle and was well written and fun to read to boot. I am not familiar with “Hemingway’s Tribute to Soil” but will be now that you’ve mentioned it. Thank you very much for commenting, Robert. I appreciate it greatly. Best, Christine

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