23 January 2014

Hemingway's letters, V. 2

I started reading the second volume of the fantastic Cambridge editions of The Letters of Ernest Hemingway, edited by Sandra Spanier, Alberto J. DeFazio III, and Robert W. Trogdon.  Spanier and her associates have done another great job (having already, in the first volume, revolutionized Hemingway scholarship) and there are some delightful tidbits all through Hemingway's letters.  He was a prodigious and funny correspondent, and this volume covers 1923 through 1925 - those big years where he published in our time and gathered the material for The Sun Also Rises, A Moveable Feast, and Death in the Afternoon, as well as had his first child and fell in love with his second wife.

From a letter to Ezra Pound (p. 9), who had recently reviewed a book by Dr. Louis Berman about how glands regulate human behavior (book available free here).  Hemingway mocks the entire idea.
This high altitude has made me practically sexless.  I don't mean that it has removed the sexual superiority of the male but that it has checked the activity of the glands.  I would like to discuss the matter with Burman.  It could make an interesting contribution to a monograph on the increasing scarcity of prostitutes above 2000 meters u/s and a strange exception to the movement in the Engadine Valley where an annual winter concentration of prostitutes is effected at St. Moritz altitude 2001 meters u/s.  I daresay it all could be worked out to the accompaniment of graphs and temperature density charts.
From another letter to Pound (p. 83), this obscenity-filled screed emerges.  Hemingway hated Canada, and his tirade against it becomes a general railing.
For christ sake never come back.  Dont let Strater kid you or Heep and Co.  Heep and Co. dont live in any country.  Those people live in Homosexualia which is international.  They tote it with them and set it up wherever they go.
But for a man who likes to drink and fuck and eat and talk and read the papers and write something and keep clear of the shits, literary shits, artistic shits, photographic shits, journalistic shits, high minded shits, low minded shits healthy shits, sickly shits, money making shits, poor shits, book shop shits, book review shits ignorant shits, Dull Dial shits, bright Vanity Fair shits, eager shits, tired shits, virgins, cock suckers, lawyers, land lords, city editors, pullman porters, masturbators, Ministers, Gilbert Sedes, all his friends, Everybody in New York, The Governor General, Lady Byng, Mr. Atkinson, Charlie Goode, The Arts and Letters Club, D.H. Lawrence, Mickey Walker, Yeats the Senator, Norman Douglas, Norman Angell, Norman Hapgood, Norman Blood, the Labor Party, Protection, Free Trade, Mr. Coolidge, Strater's Old Man, Strater's Conscience, Scofield Thayer, Buggary, Sodomy, ass licking, cunt lapping (except among friends) Cancers, The Nobel Prize, Millerand, --
Shit on them all
A charming note by the editors to explain one bit of oddment: in the fall of 1922, Pound put out an advertisement for Hemingway's new book, part of the Inquest series of releases.  Hemingway was away covering the Greco-Turkish War for the Toronto Star, and hadn't told the advertiser the title, so it was just listed as Blank.  Unbeknownst to each other, Hemingway's parents each individually wrote to Pound and requested five copies of Blank, which they assumed was the title (p. 64).

To Pound, Hemingway writes about having to go to work, reporting on a coal mining scandal, very near his wife's due date (p. 58).
Was on train at a smut session with correspondents and titled coal barons in the press car while baby was being born.  Two o'clock in the morning.  Heard about it ten miles out of Toronto and came in intending to kill City Editor, Hindmarsh.  Compromised by telling him would never forgive him of course and that all work done by me from now on would be with the most utter contempt and hatred for him and all his bunch of masturbating mouthed associates.  Also offered knockdown if editors trap opened.  Consequently position at office highly insecure.
To Gertrude Stein and her partner, Alice B. Toklas, Hemingway writes about going to bullfights with his friend Chink (p. 128).  Chink can't ignore the horses that are maimed and die during the process.
Hadley and I love the corrida [fighting] more than ever in spite of Chink's non conformist attitude toward the Varas [horseback lancers].  It must be hell to feel that way about it but I don't and never have.  Chink has a good head and he is so absolutely right but the horses just don't bother me.  He's had an English education and the English have made sacred cows out of horses.  It's spoiled bull fighting for him because everybody wants to argue with him and that, of course, makes him get it all straight in his mind and serious about it again just when he is getting so he can kid about it.  It is terrible to get anybody serious about anything on a fiesta.  Oh well.

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