Two New Views of Hemingway

September 22, 2011 at 3:41 pm 6 comments

Ernest-HemingwayTwo books released just this week—both with Penn State connections—offer new insights into one of the most analyzed writers ever: Ernest Hemingway.

Cambridge University Press has just published the first volume of The Letters of Ernest Hemingway, 1907–1922, edited by Penn State English department faculty member Sandra Spanier ’76g, ’81g.

Our upcoming Nov-Dec issue includes a feature-length interview with Spanier on what it’s been like to track down Hemingway’s unpublished correspondence—thousands of letters, telegrams, postcards, short handwritten notes—and what those writings tell us about a very complicated man. That next issue won’t be out until the end of October, but in the meantime you can also hear Spanier talk about the letters in this four-minute video, which also includes a conversation with Hemingway’s son Patrick.

Here’s a news release from Penn State that offers more on how Spanier became interested in Hemingway (this is a career project for her—she tells us that there could be as many as 16 volumes in the series before it’s over), and how far back the University’s connection to the author goes. Interestingly, the jacket for the new book was designed by a Penn Stater: Chip Kidd ’86.

The new book also is the subject of an article in the October issue of Vanity Fair; it’s written by biographer A. Scott Berg, who has played a role in the Hemingway Letters Project. The article is a fascinating tale of a trip Spanier, Berg, and others took to Cuba in 2002 in hopes of getting access to some of Hemingway’s papers that they suspected still existed at Finca Vigía, Hemingway’s former estate just outside Havana. Spanier, Berg et al. got the runaround from Cuban authorities for several days, and then … well, you really should read the Vanity Fair article to find out what happened.

Meanwhile, on the same day that Spanier’s collection was published, Knopf released Hemingway’s Boat: Everything He Loved in Life, and Lost, 1934–1961. It’s a biography of sorts by Paul Hendrickson ’68g, who spent 20 years writing for the Washington Post and now teaches nonfiction at the University of Pennsylvania.

While writers have been analyzing Hemingway from every angle for years, Hendrickson takes a new approach: He looks at what one reviewer called “the true love of the final half of Hemingway’s tumultuous life,” a 38-foot fishing boat called Pilar. Hendrickson treats the boat as a lens through which he examines Hemingway’s friendships, his marriages, his alcoholism, and his eventual suicide in Idaho—50 years ago, on July 2, 1961.

For more on Hendrickson’s book, check out stories in the Miami Herald, here, and the Cleveland Plain Dealer, here, or this interview with Hendrickson at Salon.com. (Warning: A language advisory is in order briefly at the end of the interview.)

Tina Hay, editor

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6 Comments Add your own

  • […] professor Sandra Spanier ’76g, ’81g talks about the first volume of The Letters of Ernest Hemingway, a project she’s spearheading, and recommends the one Hemingway book you should read if you’re […]

  • 2. Anonymous  |  November 9, 2011 at 10:42 am

    I’d love to own this book but the thought of having anything in my home relating to the name Spanier makes me physically ill.

  • 3. Anonymous  |  December 11, 2011 at 9:56 pm

    Graham Spanier was the greatest president PSU ever had or will ever have. He was an advocate of the student’s accomplishments and not a president to sit in his office. His involvement in the community included PBS, 4th Fest, and the art events in the summer. This is a classic case where the public has been led by the media and not logic. Sandy Spanier has also brought many great things to Penn State too. The media comes to town and leaves a mass of destruction. Time will prove that there were many innocent great people included in the allegations.

  • […] Hendrickson ’68g continues to get a lot of great reviews for his 2011 book Hemingway’s Boat: Everything He Loved in Life, and Lost, 1934–1961. The Washington Post […]

  • 5. Mourning Joe, From Afar « The Penn Stater Magazine  |  February 6, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    […] Hemingway’s former home on the outskirts of Havana, Finca Vigía, our tour guide had met Sandy Spanier ’76g, ’81g several times and knew all about her Hemingway research. Finca Vigía is also where […]

  • […] Hemingway’s former home on the outskirts of Havana, Finca Vigía, our tour guide had met Sandy Spanier ’76g, ’81g several times and knew all about her Hemingway research. Finca Vigía is also where […]

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