LESS THAN A TREASON: Hemingway in Paris by Peter Griffin

LESS THAN A TREASON: Hemingway in Paris

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Griffin ended the first installment of his life of Ernest Hemingway (Along with Youth, 1985) with the marriage of Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley Richardson. Here, he picks up the story with the young couple's departure for France in 1921 and traces their lives through the next eight years to the breakup of the marriage. Unlike Michael Reynolds (Hemingway: The Paris Years, 1989), Griffin detects little of the poseur and the opportunist in his subject's character. Typical of Griffin's approach is the manner in which he deals with the composition of Hemingway's Sherwood Anderson parody, The Torrents of Spring. Whereas most of Hemingway's biographers see the creation of this heavy-handed satire as a ploy used by Hemingway to break his contract with Anderson's American publisher, Harold Liveright--Liveright had first rights to Hemingway's second book, and the ambitious author wanted to sign up with Scribner's--Griffin generously ignores this interpretation. The slap at Anderson, he says, was an expression of Hemingway's ""need to punish Anderson for his cowardice,"" for having, as Hemingway put it, ""sold out."" Griffin is just as forgiving in his analysis of Hemingway's shameful treatment of Harold Loeb, the model for Robert Cohn in The Sun Also Rises. During that much-publicized holiday in Pamplona, Hemingway called Loeb a ""kike"" and a coward; Griffin reports the fact without comment. His treatment of those around Hemingway is less easygoing: Hadley herself, he hints, was a heavy drinker and ""slept around""; Scott Fitzgerald, when he read the manuscript of The Sun Also Rises, ""was poised to be critical."" (Griffin fails to note that Fitzgerald's criticisms of the opening of the novel were valid and were followed by Hemingway.) Shallow and hagiographic; stick with the Reynolds.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1990
Publisher: Oxford Univ. Press