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Tired or not, Hemingway is a man who likes to relax with memories. Once, he remembers, there was a battered old prizefighter in Key West who wanted to make a comeback and asked Hemingway to referee. "It was a Negro section," Hemingway recalls, "and they really introduced me in the ring: 'The referee for tonight's bouts, that world-famous millionaire sportsman and playboy, Mr. Ernest Hemingway!' Playboy was the greatest title they thought they could give a man. How can the Nobel Prize move a man who has heard plaudits like that?".
While Hemingway was perhaps never a millionaire, the playboy title often fitted him. Oak Park, III. (pop, 63,529) saw the earliest Hemingway--the versatile, outdoors-loving son of respected Dr. and Mrs. Clarence E. Hemingway. Later Oak Park's people wondered, as one of them put it, "how a boy brought up in Christian and Puritan nurture should know and write so well of the devil and the underworld." (He was born a Congregationalist, became a practicing Roman Catholic, now apparently does not go to church). The city room of the Kansas City Star saw him fresh out of high school and itchy for excitement. He left after only seven months of covering "the short-stop run" --police, railroad station, hospital. He lied about his age (18) to join the Red Cross ambulance service. Soon, postcards came back from the Italian front. "Having a wonderful time," they said.
The Hemingway who first stepped into Gertrude Stein's salon in postwar Paris was 22, "rather foreign looking, with passionately interested, rather than interesting eyes." But the Hemingway she remembered later, after they had parted company, was "yellow . . . just like the flatboat men on the Mississippi River as described by Mark Twain."
In his Paris days, he often refused good newspaper assignments and lunched on five sous' worth of potatoes in order to write his stories his own way. Even before any of his work was published (1923), word of Hemingway's fresh new talent floated like tobacco smoke through Paris' expatriate cafes and salons. He impressed and became friends with many of the literary greats of the day, including James Joyce. "Once, in one of those casual conversations you have when you're drinking," recalls Hemingway,"Joyce said to me he was afraid his writing was too suburban and that maybe he should get around a bit and see the world. He was afraid of some things, lightning and things, but a wonderful man. He was under great discipline-- his wife, his work and his bad eyes. His wife was there and she said, yes, his work was too suburban--'Jim could do with a spot of that lion hunting.' We would go out to drink and Joyce would fall into a fight. He couldn't even see the man so he'd say, 'Deal with him, Hemingway! Deal with him!"
The Hemingway of the late 1920s, prosperous and confident, dealt successfully with all comers. But he had his troubles. His first marriage, to Hadley Richardson of St. Louis, broke up in 1927, and his father committed suicide in 1928. Hemingway was later to marry two more St. Louisans: Vogue Writer Pauline Pfeiffer (1927) and Novelist Martha Gellhorn (1940). From his first marriage he has one son, John ("Bumby"), 32, a World War II soldier and OSS man who is now in a 2 Portland, Ore. investment house. From his second he has two more sons, Patrick, 24, who has bought a plantation in Tanganyika, and Gregory, 22, who is completing premedical studies in Los Angeles.
The Hemingway of Death in the Afternoon (1932) was passionate about bulls, matadors, violence and the art of risking death. Max Eastman, the pundit and critic, wrote in Bull in the Afternoon that Hemingway seemed to have "begotten . . . a literary style . . . of wearing false hair an the chest." One afternoon three years later, 54-year-old relatively unhirsute Alax Eastman was confronted in Scribner's New York office by bull-angry, 38-year-old Hemingway, who ripped open his shirt to prove that the chest hair was real. The scene cuIminated in the notorious scuffle whose true outcome has long since vanished in the fog of subjective claims and counterclaims.
The Depression and the Spanish civil war produced the short-lived Political Hemingway. In To Have and Have Not, Hemingway's only full-length novel with a U.S. setting, he sounded vaguely socialist. Some critics, particularly the Communists, grasped at the death of the novel's hero, Harry Morgan, because he died insisting that "a man alone ain't got no . . . chance." One critic saw in the book a plea for some form of social collectivism. Hemingway wore his heart on his sleeve for the Loyalists in Spain, but For Whom the Bell Tolls clearly showed his contempt for the Communists. They, in turn, denounced his books for being militaristic and lacking social significance.
The Hemingway of World War II wore a canteen of vermouth on one hip, a canteen of gin on the other, a helmet that he seldom used because he couldn't find one big enough. Accredited a foreign correspondent for Collier's (he jokingly called himself "Ernie Hemorrhoid, the Poor man's Pyle"), he took part in more of the European War than many a soldier. With Colonel (now Major General) Charles T. Lanham's 22nd Infantry Regiment, he went through the Normandy breakthrough, Schnee Eifel, the Hrtgen Forest bloodletting and the defense of Luxembourg. Gathering 200 French irregulars around him, he negotiated huge allotments of ammunition and alcohol and assisted in the liberation Of Paris. Hemingway personally liberated the Ritz Hotel, posted a guard below to notify incoming friends: "Papa took good hotel. Plenty stuff in cellar "