Books: An American Storyteller

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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 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.

Who's Hairy? 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 on the chest." One afternoon three years later, 54-year-old, relatively unhirsute Max 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 culminated 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.

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