Henry James regarded The Golden Bowl, his last novel, with great favor. I can see why. It was dense, deep and brilliant. I need to reread it. And reread it again after that. And again. Along with The Sun Also Rises I might reread it every year. We’ll see.
The Sun Also Rises was a treat. I loved it more this time overall but also saw things in it that I was both stunned by and disappointed in in regard to Hemingway’s writing. And, in what proved to be a keystone book in my list this year as it amazingly mentions many of my selections and neatly ties them all together, Everybody Behaves Badly: The True Story Behind Hemingway’s Masterpiece The Sun Also Rises I learned of Fitzgerald’s huge role in shaping The Sun Also Rises. Although, considering how much I love Sun compared to Hemingway’s other novels I’m not surprised to have discovered that. Also, it was Hemingway’s debut novel and the only one he started and (essentially) finished while still married to Hadley. Undoubtedly that’s not insignificant.
Indeed, in the wonderful study of these historical characters by Lesley M. M. Blume, it does seem that Hadley and Fitzgerald are two of the most important pillars of Hemingway’s success. Well, and Gertrude Stein, Sherwood Anderson, Harold Loeb, Max Perkins, Horace Liveright and of course Lady Duff Twysden deserve credit too.
Who’s Lady Duff Twysden? Why, Brett Ashley of course. (In the photo above she’s seated to Hemingway’s left.)
Fitzgerald didn’t like her but she wasn’t lacking for very fond attention from almost every other male around. And Hemingway captured her sensational charm and unusual charisma with his magic (edited with kindness and true genius by Fitzgerald of course). However, Duff was bound to become immortal eventually regardless, according to Lesley M. M. Blume. She was just that deeply and truly inspiring and she had that many brilliant, wealthy, well-connected and profoundly gifted friends.
But Hadley… *shaking head* First she had to deal with poverty as they (with a baby) lived almost entirely off her trust fund of around $35,000 a year (calculated for inflation) while Hemingway tried to start his literary career in Paris. Then just when things improved and his career took off Ernest started having affairs. Lots of affairs.
Eventually, Hemingway found a permanent mistress: A much wealthier and more fashionable heiress. She was a pushy and conniving heiress too and my gosh was she was game… *eye roll* She even calculated a close friendship with Hadley to make her way further into Hemingway’s heart. And eventually Hem divorced Hadley for this lady, named Pauline, and lived to regret it.
Of course Hemingway would eventually leave Pauline for another woman named Martha. And then another woman named Mary would be his fourth wife after Martha became boring too. Or, as Fitzgerald suggested, whenever he needed to write another important novel he found a new wife.
I have to say that I have a feeling that I’d have sided with Zelda in regard to Hemingway on a personal level, even if I’m a fan of his literary genius. She did not like him, supposedly, at all. And if I’d have ever had the occasion to meet dear Hem I’d have likely refused to even genuinely acknowledge him at all. Even to make polite conversation. I would have found him that upsetting and felt the need to “put him in his place”. And yet…I’ve gathered that Hemingway did have many great regrets later in life. Many.
And while I misplaced Mere Christianity I got a good start on McCullough’s John Adams. I’m thoroughly enjoying it. I hope I find my copy of that C. S. Lewis though…
Anyway, it was an excellent month!!! *big grin*
So off to March. This next month I’ll reread the novel F. Scott Fitzgerald regarded as his best work: Tender Is The Night. I’ll also finish John Adams, and read Ulysses and Innocents Abroad.
The only books I need to find at the library for March are Innocents Abroad and Ulysses. I hope the James Joyce is not checked out given the upcoming holiday.
Hopefully everyone reading this is well. Stay safe.
(Images via Google Images)