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The Letters of Ernest Hemingway: Volume 1,…

The Letters of Ernest Hemingway: Volume 1, 1907-1922 (The Cambridge…

by Ernest Hemingway

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This hefty volume is just the first part of a project to publish Hemingway's collected letters - that is, all the letters available to collect and publish. It covers his early life from childhood to his first couple of years in Paris, from the age of 8 to 23. Of course, not all his letters survive - sadly for literary voyeurs like me, his first wife Hadley Richardson burned nearly all his letters to her when they split up - only a couple appear here.

Of course, many of his letters cover rather banal and trivial subjects, but even so, the early ones offer an insight into the life of a well off family, with lots of outdoor escapades, a good education and an interest in books, and also in writing - both Ernest and his sister Marcelline entered magazine competitions for children's writing. I was amused by a mention of 11 year old Ernest going to his mum's suffrage meeting and sleeping through it.

The period covered here also includes his time in Italy during the war, providing medical support rather than as a combatant, and his early efforts to find employment which suited his writing and creative skills, in advertising and journalism. There are lively letters to lots of male and female friends, as well as to his family.

I've only read 3 of Hemingway's books, including his memoir A Moveable Feast and a recent novel about him and Hadley The Paris Wife narrated from her viewpoint, but this made me want to revisit some of his early works.

The main drawback for me was Hemingway's rather irritating use of repetitive slang, nicknames and rather silly words, but also of some less than polite terms like "wops" for Italians.

There are a few photos, a long introduction, a chronology of key events in Hemingway's life, maps showing places where he lived and travelled, and a comprehensive index.

Really, this is a book for academic libraries and their users rather than the general casual reader, but I quite enjoyed reading it, albeit slowly over a few months, and it is a nicely presented volume which will look nice on my bookshelves when I find some space for it. ( )
  elkiedee | Oct 4, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0521897335, Hardcover)

With the first publication, in this edition, of all the surviving letters of Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961), readers will for the first time be able to follow the thoughts, ideas and actions of one of the great literary figures of the twentieth century in his own words. This first volume encompasses his youth, his experience in World War I and his arrival in Paris. The letters reveal a more complex person than Hemingway's tough guy public persona would suggest: devoted son, affectionate brother, infatuated lover, adoring husband, spirited friend and disciplined writer. Unguarded and never intended for publication, the letters record experiences that inspired his art, afford insight into his creative process and express his candid assessments of his own work and that of his contemporaries. The letters present immediate accounts of events and relationships that profoundly shaped his life and work. A detailed introduction, notes, chronology, illustrations and index are included.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:11 -0400)

Hemingway's letters, most previously unpublished, allow an unprecedented insight into his mind and a vivid record of his turbulent life.

Legacy Library: Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway has a Legacy Library. Legacy libraries are the personal libraries of famous readers, entered by LibraryThing members from the Legacy Libraries group.

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