The Letters of Ernest Hemingway: Volume I, 1907-1922

Edited by Sandra Spanier and Robert W. Trogdon. Cambridge Univ., $40 (516p) ISBN 9780521897334
The first of more than a dozen volumes bringing together the complete extant correspondence of this crucial modernist writer, this scrupulously edited and annotated book reveals a warm, amusing, and sensitive Hemingway. They begin with little Ernest around age 8, telling his father that he "saw a mother duck with seven little babies," and end with Hemingway at age 23, writing to such luminaries as Gertrude Stein, Sherwood Anderson, and Ezra Pound. Readers see his gradual emergence as a fiction writer, able to assert to his friend Ezra: "I know what I'm after in prose." Those familiar with the gruff, humorless, and word-chary sportsman of popular legend will be surprised to find a charming and compulsive correspondent whose garrulous voice works irresistible magic on the English language, with the young author revealing a keen eye for detail and a talent for reportage. Though clearly intended for an academic audience, the delight of these letters and the sheer quantity of useful editorial material—including excellent introductory essays, extensive notes for each letter, a chronology of Hemingway's life, maps of his journeys, and personal photographs—should entice even the most ardent Papa-reviler to delve into the spontaneous words of a creative genius. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 10/31/2011
Release date: 09/01/2011
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