The first volume of The Letters of Ernest Hemingway is hitting the shelves. This new collection — expected to reach 16 volumes — includes all of his correspondence, most of it never before published, including reams gathered from the Finca Vigía, his home in Cuba. (The first volume spans 1907 to 1922.)
The work is the product of the Hemingway Letters Project, a venture of Penn State University, the Ernest Hemingway Society and Foundation and the Hemingway estate. It was overseen by Sandra Spanier, general editor of the project and a Penn State English professor, whose team gathered and transcribed some 6,000 letters.
Fortunately for her, Spanier says, Hemingway was a pack rat. Maybe not so fortunately for the readers. It will take about 20 years to roll out all the volumes.
Below is a video of Spanier talking to Hemingway’s son Patrick about the letters.
Also new on the shelves is journalist Paul Hendrickson’s Hemingway’s Boat: Everything He Loved in Life, and Lost, 1934-1961.
“I do believe we’ve had far too many biographies and critical explanations of the man, each one contradicting the last,” Hendrickson tells Salon. “I didn’t want to join that group. If I was going to do something, I wanted to do something different, which would lead to point B.”
Salon calls the book “masterly.”
“On board Pilar,” writes Kevin Canfield, “Hemingway wrote, loved, argued, drank and, for a time during World War II, went looking for enemy submarines. And it’s a boat, Hendrickson believes, that may have had a distinct impact on the evolution of Hemingway’s prose.”
Read more of the Salon interview with Hendrickson here.
It’s been a big year for Hemingway books (and films and theater for that matter). Paula McClain’s The Paris Wife, about Hemingway’s first bride Hadley, rode the bestseller charts for weeks. Former Esquire editor Marty Beckerman took the satire route with The Heming Way.