Saturday, February 14, 2015

Hemingway's Footprint in Cuba Part 4: Hemingway the Writer

The Memorial at Cojimar
     Ernest Hemingway needed the income from his writing in order to support his many other adventures.  He was a war correspondent, a magazine and short story writer and most of all a Nobel Prize winning novelist.  All of his writing outlets were widely read and enjoyed.  His inspiration for many of his writings was his location and what he was doing at the time.  Cuba was no exception.  Inspiration for his most famous book The Old Man and the Sea, was the fishing village of Cojimar, just outside of Havana.


Ambros Mundos
    His third wife, Martha Gellhorn, inspired him to complete his most famous novel, For Whom The Bells Toll,  which he started in March 1939 and finished in July 1940.   It was published in October 1940.   Consistent with his usual pattern of traveling around when he was working on a manuscript, he wrote For Whom the Bell Tolls in Cuba, Wyoming, and Idaho.   For Whom the Bell Tolls became a Book-of-the-Month Club choice and sold half a million copies within a few months.  It was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and re-established Hemingway as a literary icon.

Finca la Vigia
    The monies earned from For Whom the Bells Toll allowed him to purchase his beloved Finca la Vigia in 1940.   Hemingway lived in the house from mid 1939 to 1960, renting it at first, and then buying it in December 1940 after he married his third wife Martha Gelhorn.  Hemingway paid $12,500 for the property.   This was the place where he seemed to be able to remain inspired better than any other when it came to his writings.

Pilar at War
    In the years prior to the United States entry into World War II, he convinced the Cuban government to help him refit the Pilar, which he intended to use to ambush German submarines off the coast of Cuba.   After war was declared by the United States he went to Europe to be a war correspondent again.   In 1947, Hemingway was awarded a Bronze Star for his bravery during World War II.  Hemingway was recognized for his valor, having been "under fire in combat areas in order to obtain an accurate picture of conditions".    With the conclusion of the war, he returned to Finca la Vigia in January of 1946, where he began work on The Garden of Eden, finishing 800 pages by June.     During the post–war years, he also began work on a trilogy "The Land", "The Sea" and "The Air", which he wanted to combine into a single novel titled The Sea Book.  Both projects stalled, and  Hemingway's inability to continue was "a symptom of his troubles, believed to be bipolar, something that was not known in those years. 

The Tower at Finca la Vigia
     Hemingway met 19-year-old Adriana Ivancich in Venice.    The platonic love affair inspired the novel Across the River and into the Trees, written in Cuba during a time of strife with his then fourth wife Mary Welsh, published in 1950 to negative reviews.    The following year, furious at the critical reception of Across the River and Into the Trees, he wrote the draft of The Old Man and the Sea in eight weeks, saying that it was "the best I have written in all of my life" .  The Old Man and the Sea became a book-of-the-month selection and established Hemingway an international celebrity and won him the Pulitzer Prize in May of 1952.
     In October 1954, Hemingway received the Nobel Prize in Literature.  He modestly told the press that Carl Sandburg, Isak Dinesen or Bernard Berenson truly deserved the prize, but the  prize money would be welcome.    As he was suffering pain from the African airplane crashes, he decided not to travel to Stockholm.  He sent a speech to be read instead.
    Shortly after he received the Pulitzer Prize, he headed off for a safari in Africa.  Following two near fatal airplane crashes trying to get to Entebbe,  Hemingway and Welsh finally arrived in Entebbe to find reporters covering the story of his death.  He briefed the reporters and spent the next few weeks recuperating and reading his erroneous obituaries.
     He returned to Cuba in 1957 where he began to assemble a group of papers recovered from the
Then there was only the Empty Room and the Typewriter.
Ritz Hotel he left behind after World War II into his memoir A Moveable Feast
.   Hemingway  ended a period of intense activity in 1959.  He finished A Moveable Feast, extended  True at First Light to 200,000 words, added new chapters to The Garden of Eden and spent some time developing  Islands in the Stream.   The last three were stored in a safe deposit box in Havana as he focused on the finishing touches for A Moveable Feast.   It was during this period that Hemingway started sliding  into depression from which he was unable to recover.  The Finca Vigia became crowded with guests and tourists and Hemingway was becoming unhappy with his life there.    Hemingway bought a home overlooking the Big Wood River just outside Ketchum, Idaho and left Cuba for the last time.    ;o)