A Hemingway son and grandson present a reprinting of their ancestor’s 1935 work (Hemingway Library Edition) along with some illuminating supplementary material.
First-time readers of Green Hills will enjoy discovering the source of Hemingway’s famous praise for Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, as well as some images that appeared in subsequent fiction (“The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber”). Hemingway originally created the volume as a sort of nonfiction novel, an actual account of his winter (1933-1934) African big-game hunting safari in company with his second wife, Pauline Pfeiffer, and others. Her diary, which Hemingway employed extensively, appears in an appendix and includes accounts of the author’s battles with dysentery (grim details) and of an accidental rifle discharge that just missed his head. Shooting himself in the head, of course, would come some 30 years later, and in Green Hills and its supplementary material are some comments about guns and suicide—by Hemingway and others—that crackle with dramatic irony. (In some observations he later deleted—and included here in an appendix—is his son's judgment that his father was a coward for shooting himself.) Also on display (in the text and in the supplements) are Papa’s famous ego, his waxing lyrical about beautiful animals he has just killed, and his testosterone-soaked rivalry with a hunting companion (Charles Thompson, called “Karl” in Green Hills), whose trophies always seemed to surpass Hemingway’s. Also in the appendices are lists of his kills (most were for meat, he says) and altered versions of his published text (most from the collection at the University of Virginia), one of which claims writer Archibald MacLeish was a coward. There is also some casual racism (one woman, he says in Green Hills, had “niggery legs”) and a delightful passage about a lioness attacking a wildebeest’s testicles.
Papa’s best and worst on full display, sometimes in the same paragraph.