DAVE VORLAND: It Occurs To Me — The Hemingway Mystique

I knew nothing about Ernest Hemingway in the fall of 1961. He had recently committed suicide in Idaho at age 60.

My freshman English class at the University of North Dakota was assigned to read his short story, “A Clean Well-Lighted Place.”

Impressed with Hemingway’s writing, I dashed off a story in his “style” and submitted it to “Tyro,” the campus literary magazine. It was rejected, I realize now for good reason.

But to use a Spanish word Hemingway liked, I became a lifelong “aficionado.”

I’m now considerably older than he was that day in Ketchum when he pulled the trigger of his favorite shotgun. One of these days I’ll be joining him in the hereafter.

My estate will then dispose of my collection of Hemingway books, not only those written by the master himself but also biographies and commentaries about him and his work.

At last count, 64 volumes were in my personal library, not including back issues of the twice-a-year journal of the Hemingway Society.

But here’s the amazing thing.

More than half a century after his death, new books about Hemingway continue to be published. Lesser remembered contemporaries — such as William Faulkner, Sinclair Lewis and Scott Fitzgerald — must be turning over in their graves.

In the past year, I’ve acquired all five of the newest books. The latest was delivered by Amazon yesterday: Terry Mort’s “Hemingway at War,” about Hemingway’s experiences as a World War II correspondent. It’s on my nightstand.

Why the continuing interest worldwide?

Perhaps, it’s because previously unknown information continues to be located. For example, Harvard University collects and makes available to scholars letters and other materials related to his life.

My favorite of the new books, David Wyatt’s “Hemingway, Style and the Art of Emotion,” was based upon his research in the Harvard archive.

And there is more stuff out there. When the last of the documents in his former house in Cuba are added to the collection, scholars will have another field day.

I sure do wish my friend, the late UND English Professor Bob Lewis, a nationally known Hemingway expert, was here to discuss with me the nuances of these newest books.

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