This review is written by Jenn Vanderslice…
Well, as you may have discovered by now, I can’t get enough of reading about Ernest Hemingway and so it should be no surprise that I’m going to review The Letters of Ernest Hemingway: Volume 5 (1932-1934). This series of books is published by the Cambridge University Press with authorization from The Hemingway Society. I was just reading on their website that this series of books is going to be a seventeen volume set of over 6000 letters written by Ernest Hemingway. I guess Ernest wasn’t much for making phone calls, huh?
Hemingway never bores me. His letters are truly fascinating, though at times he can talk a little too much about the details of hunting or trying to catch a marlin off the coast of Cuba. But the letters make it incredibly obvious where he got the details to write his Nobel Prize winning – The Old Man and the Sea, which wasn’t published until 1951. He continually says, “Write what you know” and he does just that as he details his life in letters to everyone from his family to F. Scott Fitzgerald to his editor.
While reading this series of letters, you’re introduce to each of Hemingway’s short stories, articles and novels as they are developed, rewritten, edited and published. This led me to my next book…
The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway: The Finca Vigia Edition. (Finca Vigia was the name of Hemingway’s hacienda in Cuba). I love that the intro to this book was written by Ernest Hemingway’s three sons (by two different wives). I read this book to familiarize myself with the short stories that I was reading about in his letters. The bonus is that there are a couple unpublished stories and a few unfinished stories that he had written before committing suicide in 1961. As was said early, Hemingway only wrote about what he knew, so a lot of the stories are based on his real life experiences and people he knew. Anyone that got on his bad side (which apparently wasn’t that hard to do), could possibly find some of their most embarrassing personal experiences written in a short story. This is proven in the letters that he exchanges with his editor when they discuss changing names in the stories and the disclaimer in most of his books that all the names and people are fictitious and any resemblance to living people is just a coincidence!
Earlier this year, I was glued to my TV set when PBS aired the three part series – Hemingway: A Film by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. It was an incredibly informative 6 hour program, but at the same time, it seemed to project a different Hemingway than his letters would make him out to be. I have no doubt that Ken Burns thoroughly and tirelessly researches every topic he makes a film about, but I had to ask myself, “I wonder if he’s read the letters?”
But then again…I don’t know if anyone knew the real Ernest Hemingway…even himself!
Still…I’d rate all three of these, 4 out of 4 Beetles!