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The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingwayby Ernest Hemingway
There has long been a need for a complete and up-to-date edition of the short stories of Ernest Hemingway. Until now the only such volume was the omnibus collection of the first forty-nine stories published in 1938 together with Hemingway's play The Fifth Column. That was a fertile period of Hemingway's writing and a number of stories based on his experiences in Cuba and Spain were appearing in magazines, but too late to have been included in "The First Forty-nine."
In 1939 Hemingway was already considering a new collection of stories that would take its place beside the earlier books In Our Time, Men Without Women, and Winner Take Nothing. On February 7 he wrote from his home in Key West to his editor Maxwell Perkins at Scribners suggesting such a book. At that time he had already completed five stories: "The Denunciation," "The Butterfly and the Tank," "Night Before Battle," "Nobody Ever Dies," and "Landscape with Figures," which is published here for the first time. A sixth story, "Under the Ridge," would appear shortly in the March 1939 edition of Cosmopolitan.
As it turned out, Hemingway's plans for that new book did not pan out. He had committed himself to writing three "very long" stories to round out the collection (two dealing with battles in the Spanish Civil War and one about the Cuban fisherman who fought a swordfish for four days and four nights only to lose it to sharks). But once Hemingway got underway on his novel — later published as For Whom the Bell Tolls — all other writing projects were laid aside. We can only speculate on the two war stories he abandoned, but it is probable that much of what they might have included found its way into the novel. As for the story of the Cuban fisherman, he did eventually return to it thirteen years later when he developed and transformed it into his famous novella, The Old Man and the Sea.
Many of Hemingway's early stories are set in northern Michigan, where his family owned a cottage on Waloon Lake and where he spent his summers as a boy and youth. The group of friends he made there, including the Indians who lived nearby, are doubtless represented in various stories, and some of the episodes are probably based at least partly on fact. Hemingway's aim was to convey vividly and exactly moments of exquisite importance and poignancy, experiences that might appropriately be described as "epiphanies." The posthumously published "Summer People" and the fragment called "The Last Good Country" stem from this period.
Later stories, also set in America, relate to Hemingway's experiences as a husband and father, and even as a hospital patient. The cast of characters and the variety of themes became as diversified as the author's own life. One special source of material was his life in Key West, where he lived in the twenties and thirties. His encounters with the sea on his fishing boat Pilar, taken together with his circle of friends, were the inspiration of some of his best writing. The two Harry Morgan stories, "One Trip Across" (Cosmopolitan, 1934) and "The Tradesman's Return" (Esquire, February 1936), which draw from this period, were ultimately incorporated into the novel To Have and Have Not, but it is appropriate and enjoyable to read them as separate stories, as they first appeared.
Hemingway must have been one of the most perceptive travelers in the history of literature, and his stories taken as a whole present a world of experience. In 1918 he signed up for ambulance duty in Italy as a member of an American Field Service unit. It was his first transatlantic journey and he was eighteen at the time. On the day of his arrival in Milan a munitions factory blew up, and with the other volunteers in his contingent Hemingway was assigned to gather up the remains of the dead. Only three months later he was badly wounded in both legs and hospitalized in the American Red Cross hospital in Milan, with subsequent outpatient treatment. These wartime experiences, including the people he met, provided many details for his novel of World War I, A Farewell to Arms. They also inspired five short story masterpieces.
In the 1920s he revisited Italy several times; sometimes as a professional journalist and sometimes for pleasure. His short story about a motor trip with a friend through Mussolini's Italy, "Che Ti Dice La Patria?," succeeds in conveying the harsh atmosphere of a totalitarian regime.
Between 1922 and 1924 Hemingway made several trips to Switzerland to gather material for The Toronto Star. His subjects included economic conditions and other practical subjects, but also accounts of Swiss winter sports: bobsledding, skiing, and the hazardous luge. As in other fields, Hemingway was ahead of his compatriots in discovering places and pleasures that would become tourist attractions. At the same time, he was storing up ideas for a number of his short stories, with themes ranging from the comic to the serious and the macabre.
Hemingway attended his first bullfight, in the company of American friends, in 1923, when he made an excursion to Madrid from Paris, where he was living at the time. From the moment the first bull burst into the ring he was overwhelmed by the experience and left the scene a lifelong fan. For him the spectacle of a man pitted against a wild bull was a tragedy rather than a sport. He was fascinated by its techniques and conventions, the skill and courage required by the toreros, and the sheer violence of the bulls. He soon became an acknowledged expert on bullfighting and wrote a famous treatise on the subject, Death in the Afternoon. A number of his stories also have bullfighting themes.
In time, Hemingway came to love all of Spain — its customs, its landscapes, its art treasures, and its people. When the Spanish Civil War broke out in the last week of July 1936, he was a staunch supporter of the Loyalists, helping to provide support for their cause and covering the war from Madrid as a correspondent for the North American Newspaper Alliance. Out of the entirety of his experiences in Spain during the war he produced seven short stories in addition to his novel, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and his play, The Fifth Column. It was one of the most prolific and inspired periods of his writing career.
In 1933, when his wife Pauline's wealthy uncle Gus Pfeiffer offered to stake the Hemingways to an African safari, Ernest was totally captivated by the prospect and made endless preparations, including inviting a company of friends to join them and selecting suitable weapons and other equipment for the trip.
The safari itself lasted about ten weeks, but everything he saw seems to have made an indelible impression on his mind. Perhaps he regained, as the result of his enthusiasm and interest, a childlike capacity to record details almost photographically. It was his first meeting with the famous white hunter Phillip Percival, whom he admired at once for his cool and sometimes cunning professionalism. At the end of the safari, Hemingway had filled his mind with images, incidents, and character studies of unique value for his writings. As the harvest of the trip he wrote the nonfiction novel Green Hills of Africa, and some of his finest stories. These include "The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber" and "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" as well as "An African Story," which appeared as a story within a story in The Garden of Eden, a novel published posthumously in May 1986.
In spite of the obvious importance of the Paris years on Hemingway's development as a writer, few of his short stories have French settings. He was aware of that fact and in his preface to A Moveable Feast wistfully mentions subjects that he might have written about, some of which might have become short stories.
During World War II Hemingway served as a war correspondent covering the Normandy invasions and the liberation of Paris. It seems that he also assembled a group of extramilitary scouts keeping pace with the retreating Germans. The balance between fiction and nonfiction in his stories of the period, including the previously unpublished "Black Ass at the Cross Roads," may never be determined.
Toward the end of his life Hemingway wrote two fables for the child of a friend, "The Good Lion" and "The Faithful Bull," which were published by Holiday in 1951 and are reprinted here. He also published two short stories in The Atlantic Monthly, "Get a Seeing-Eyed Dog," and "A Man of the World" (both December 20, 1957).
We have grouped seven previously unpublished works of fiction at the back of the book. Four of these represent completed short stories; the other three comprise extended scenes from unpublished, uncompleted novels.
All in all, this Finca Vigía edition contains twenty-one stories that were not included in "The First Forty-nine." The collection is named for Hemingway's home in San Francisco de Paula, Cuba. He lived at Finca Vigía ("Lookout Farm") on and off during the last two decades of his life. The finca was dear to his heart and it seems appropriate now that it should contain a major portion of his life work, which was even more dear.
— Charles Scribner, Jr.
Copyright © 1987 by Simon and Schuster Inc.
When Papa and Marty first rented in 1940 the Finca Vigía which was to be his home for the next twenty-two years until his death, there was still a real country on the south side. This country no longer exists. It was not done in by middle-class real estate developers like Chekhov's cherry orchard, which might have been its fate in Puerto Rico or Cuba without the Castro revolution, but by the startling growth of the population of poor people and their shack housing which is such a feature of all the Greater Antilles, no matter what their political persuasion.
As children in the very early morning lying awake in bed in our own little house that Marty had fixed up for us, we used to listen for the whistling call of the bobwhites in that country to the south.
It was a country covered in manigua thicket and in the tall flamboyante trees that grew along the watercourse that ran through it, wild guinea fowl used to come and roost in the evening. They would be calling to each other, keeping in touch with each other in the thicket, as they walked and scratched and with little bursts of running moved back toward their roosting trees at the end of their day's foraging in the thicket.
Manigua thicket is a scrub acacia thornbush from Africa, the first seeds of which the Creoles say came to the island between the toes of the black slaves. The guinea fowl were from Africa too. They never really became as tame as the other barnyard fowl the Spanish settlers brought with them and some escaped and throve in the monsoon tropical climate, just as Papa told us some of the black slaves had escaped from the shipwreck of slave ships on the coast of South America, enough of them together with their culture and language intact so that they were able to live together in the wilderness down to the present day just as they had lived in Africa.
Vigía in Spanish means a lookout or a prospect. The farmhouse is built on a hill that commands an unobstructed view of Havana and the coastal plain to the north. There is nothing African or even continental about this view to the north. It is a Creole island view of the sort made familiar by the tropical watercolors of Winslow Homer, with royal palms, blue sky, and the small, white cumulus clouds that continuously change in shape and size at the top of the shallow northeast trade wind, the brisa.
In the late summer, when the doldrums, following the sun, move north, there are often, as the heat builds in the afternoons, spectacular thunderstorms that relieve for a while the humid heat, chubascos that form inland to the south and move northward out to the sea.
In some summers, a hurricane or two would cut swaths through the shack houses of the poor on the island. Hurricane victims, damnificados del ciclón, would then add a new tension to local politics, already taut enough under the strain of insufficient municipal water supplies, perceived outrages to national honor like the luridly reported urination on the monument to José Martí by drunken American servicemen and, always, the price of sugar.
Lightning must still strike the house many times each summer, and when we were children there no one would use the telephone during a thunderstorm after the time Papa was hurled to the floor in the middle of a call, himself and the whole room glowing in the blue light of Saint Elmo's fire.
During the early years at the finca, Papa did not appear to write any fiction at all. He wrote many letters, of course, and in one of them he says that it is his turn to rest. Let the world get on with the mess it had gotten itself into.
Marty was the one who seemed to write and to have kept her taste for the high excitement of their life together in Madrid during the last period of the Spanish Civil War. Papa and she played a lot of tennis with each other on the clay court down by the swimming pool and there were often tennis parties with their friends among the Basque professional jai alai players from the fronton in Havana. One of these was what the young girls today would call a hunk, and Marty flirted with him a little and Papa spoke of his rival, whom he would now and again beat at tennis by the lowest form of cunning expressed in spins and chops and lobs against the towering but uncontrolled honest strength of the rival.
It was all great fun for us, the deep-sea fishing on the Pilar that Gregorio Fuentes, the mate, kept always ready for use in the little fishing harbor of Cojimar, the live pigeon shooting at the Club de Cazadores del Cerro, the trips into Havana for drinks at the Floridita and to buy The Illustrated London News with its detailed drawings of the war so far away in Europe.
Papa, who was always very good at that sort of thing, suggested a quotation from Turgenev to Marty: "The heart of another is a dark forest," and she used part of it for the title of a work of fiction she had just completed at the time.
Although the Finca Vigía collection contains all the stories that appeared in the first comprehensive collection of Papa's short stories published in 1938, those stories are now well known. Much of this collection's interest to the reader will no doubt be in the stories that were written or only came to light after he came to live at the Finca Vigía.
— JOHN, PATRICK, AND GREGORY HEMINGWAY
Copyright © 1987 by Simon and Schuster Inc.
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