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Hemingway Legacy Explored in T&C

September 20, 2011

True confession: I’m not a regular Town and Country reader, but when I heard about the Hemingway spread in the September edition, I sought it out.

In the article, “Surviving Hemingway,” granddaughter Mariel Hemingway and her daughter Langley return to Sun Valley, Idaho for a fashion shoot, photo spread and to share thoughts on the Hemingway legacy on the 50th anniversary of his death here. That legacy, unfortunately, is as much about suicide as it is about his literary successes.

“To me the Hemingway legacy has been to change it,” says Mariel Hemingway, who has become a crusader for healthy living. “I don’t want there to be a legacy. I want (daughters) Langley and Dree to be able to go off in their lives and not have to carry the burden of thinking, Oh, because there is mental illness in my family, I’m going to go crazy. I think it’s been my responsibility to open that up and really look hard at ;myself so that I didn’t give them any crap.”

Nicely said.

In an accompanying article, “The Muse,” Paul Hendrickson, author of the forthcoming book Hemingway’s Boat, plays detective in search of the inspiration for his classic short story, “The Snows of Kilimanjaro.”

Not much scandal here. The two shared tea, it seems, or more likely, bourbon. But Hendrickson posits New York socialite Helen Hay Whitney inspired the character Helen in the tale of a failed writer and his rich wife. She was the woman, he writes, who Hemingway said offered to pay his way to Africa and he declined.

“There was a lot more to the story,” Hemingway told a friend, “but I wrote the Snows as a study of what would or could have happened to me if I had accepted the offer.”

I wonder what other gems are in Hemingway’s Boat. More on that here soon.