It’s the birthday of writer Ernest Hemingway

Born in Oak Park, Illinois (1899). In July of 1925, he visited Pamplona, Spain, for the Festival of San Fermín, a weeklong celebration that included bullfighting and the famous Running of the Bulls. Hemingway and his wife arrived a few days early to get tickets, and he needed a way to spend the time; so on this day in 1925, on his 26th birthday, he began his first novel. He said, “Everybody my age had written a novel and I was still having a difficult time writing a paragraph.” He wrote in the days leading up to the celebration, he wrote in bed every morning during the week of the festival, and when it was over, he continued writing. He wrote in hotels and bars in Madrid and the French town of Hendaye, and in an apartment in Paris. He finished the first draft just two months after he had begun writing. He told a friend years later: “Toward the last it was like a fever. Toward the last I was sprinting, like in a bicycle race, and I did not want to lose my speed making love or anything else.”

He titled his novel Fiesta, then revised the title to The Lost Generation, and finally to The Sun Also Rises. He sent the manuscript to Scribner’s, where it was picked up by the editor Maxwell Perkins. Perkins wrote to Hemingway: “The Sun Also Rises seems to me a most extraordinary performance. No one could conceive a book with more life in it.” The Sun Also Rises was published in 1926, and Perkins became Hemingway’s lifelong editor. The novel got a good review in The New York Times and other New York newspapers, but was generally disliked in the rest of the country, including in Hemingway’s hometown of Chicago. His own mother wrote to him: “It is a doubtful honor to produce one of the filthiest books of the year. […] Every page fills me with a sick loathing – if I should pick up a book by any other writer with such words in it, I should read no more – but pitch it in the fire.”

Perkins regularly defended Hemingway’s writing to his boss, Charles Scribner. For Hemingway’s second novel, A Farewell to Arms (1929), Perkins had a conference with Scribner to discuss Hemingway’s use of four-letter words. Perkins himself did not use obscene language – his strongest expression was “My God,” and even that was rare. Although he was defending Hemingway’s right to use four-letter words, Perkins was so uncomfortable saying them that he had to write them on a memo pad for Scribner. In the end, three words were not included in A Farewell to Arms, but replaced by dashes. Hemingway wrote those words back in by hand on a couple of copies, including one that he gave to James Joyce. A Farewell to Arms became a best-seller, selling 100,000 copies in its first year, and Hemingway was able to make a living writing fiction.
reposted from A.