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A Hemingway Odyssey: Special Places in His Life.

A Hemingway Odyssey: Special Places in His Life. By H. Lea Lawrence. Nashville, TN: Cumberland House Publishing, 1999. 208 pp. Paper $12.95.

For Christmas 1992, after attending the Fifth International Hemingway Conference in Pamplona, Spain the previous July, I bought my husband a copy of The Sun Also Rises, inscribing my gift with Hemingway's words: "For we have been there in the books and out of the books--and where we go if We are any good, there you can go as we have been." Because so many of us "have been there in the books," we develop a passion to go there "out of the books" as well. In Paris, for instance, we stand on the Pont de la Tournelle and look at the Seine and Notre Dame and feel like Ernest and Hadley in A Moveable Feast, taking in "our river and our city and the island of our city" (55). In Pamplona, we see our first bullfight and are surprised to find ourselves so deeply moved by the experience. Some Hemingway aficionados take this obsession further and write books of their own about these experiences. Winston Conrad, Michael Palin, and H. Lea Lawrence are three of the most recent, and their books are all surprisingly quite different.

Winston Conrad's Hemingway's France is more than the glossy picture book it at first appears to be. Although Hemingway specialists, may find little new here, the text is a substantive attempt to describe the milieu that Hemingway experienced in France. Thus the book places Hemingway in the context of literary and artistic history and devotes much space to other notables of Hemingway's era in France.

Conrad organizes his text chronologically and geographically, so Chapter One, "The Literary Scene in Paris," focuses on the attraction of Paris after World War I for numerous "artists, musicians and writers" (15) as well as for the young Ernest Hemingway. Joyce, Stein, Pound, Eliot, and Fitzgerald, among many others, were all part of that stimulating, heady world.

Chapter Two, "Paris Yesterday and Today," continues in a similar vein and also describes the wave of middle class American tourism fueled by the incredible dollar-to-franc exchange rate. Of course, Ernest and his wife Hadley benefitted with their American dollars as well.

"Cafes, Restaurants, and Nightlife," Chapter Three, provides an extensive list of cafes and restaurants that Hemingway visited, places which frequently also provided texture to his writing. Many of these places still exist. Where name changes have occurred, Conrad gives current names, information that at first appears to be very helpful for the pilgrim who yearns to follow in Hemingway's footsteps. A closer look, however, reveals that some of this information is confusing at best. For instance, after describing the Brasserie Lipp on the Boulevard St. Germain, Conrad writes "Just down the street is Le Pre aux Clercs, the first restaurant the Hemingways frequented after they arrived in Paris, in late 1921. Around the corner is Brasserie l'Escorialles, known in the 1920s as the Cafe Michaud" (53). On a recent trip to Paris, I tried, unsuccessfully, to find Le Pre aux Clercs by starting at Lipp's on the Boulevard St. Germain and going "just down the street" in both directions. Frustrated, I figured the place must have gone out of business. "Around the corner" in regard to the former Michaud's didn't help either. What corner? Luckily, though, I had also written down Hemingway's own description in A Moveable Feast. Ernest and Hadley walk up the rue des Saintes-Peres to the corner of rue Jacob where they wait to satisfy their hunger at the busy and expensive Michaud's (56). Hemingway also specifies this precise corner in a later chapter when he meets Scott Fitzgerald at the restaurant for lunch.

Exact directions are important because the former Michaud's is no longer Brasserie l'Escorialles but Le Comptoir des Saintes Peres. I verified this with the current proprietor who confirmed that yes, his newly opened business had been Michaud's a long time ago and most recently, Brasserie L'Escorialles. My quest to locate Le Pre aux Clercs led me to Shakespeare and Company where I purchased Walks in Hemingway's Paris by Noel Riley Fitch. Her detailed maps and explicit directions made the restaurant easy to find at the corner of rue Bonaparte and rue Jacob. Fitch's book is definitely the best for securing addresses. Conrad's is a different type of book.

Chapter Four, "The Artists" focuses on the visual artists of Paris in the 1920s. Picasso, Pascin, Man Ray, and many others are discussed, but Gerald Murphy, another new friend of the Hemingways at the time, receives special attention both in the text and in the reproduction of his work. The most interesting item, though, may be the drawing by Pascin of Hemingway himself sitting at the Dome.

In "Sports," Chapter Five, Conrad connects Hemingway's writing to his interests in horse racing at Auteil and Longchamps and in bicycle racing at Paris's Velodrome. Boxing isn't slighted either; Hemingway was often seen by the ring at the Cirque d'Hiver.

Though extensively devoted to the party life of Sara and Gerald Murphy and their guests in Antibes, Chapter Six, "The South of France," also describes the pilgrimage at Les Saintes-Maries-de-la Mer attended by Hemingway and his second wife Pauline while on their honeymoon in 1927. Hemingway Society members who participated in the Eighth International Hemingway Conference in Les Saintes in 1998 will recognize the statues of Marie Salome and Marie Jacob in Conrad's photograph.

Chapter Seven relates to Hemingway's experiences in World War II and contains many vintage photographs of Hemingway on the scene, some very familiar and others refreshingly new. The chapter also reproduces several photographs in which Hemingway does not appear, including many street scenes during the liberation of Paris. Since all of these photographs are credited to the archives of the John F. Kennedy Library, where the Hemingway Collection resides, it would be interesting to know whether Hemingway took the shots himself. As a scholar, I wondered about this in regard to earlier chapters as well, where photographs of the Cafe Select and fountains in the Place de l'Observatoire, for instance, were also credited to the Kennedy Library. Conrad doesn't explain, but such information might have made the text valuable for specialists as well as for the general reader. Nevertheless, Chapter Seven is mostly quite well done and has some wonderful anecdotes, including one about Hemingway praying at the Chapel of our Lady of the Pillar at Chartres on the way to the liberation of Paris.

"Bullfights," Chapter Eight, is interesting because we naturally associate Hemingway and the corrida with Spain. However, as Conrad points out, Hemingway also attended bullfights in Arles, Biarritz, Nimes, and Bayonne, France. Attendees at the Eighth International Hemingway Conference will enjoy the photographs of taurine events that most of us witnessed, including the special Corrida de Hemingway in Saintes Maries. Conrad's photograph of S. Fernandez Meca in the spectacular Roman arena in Nimes brought back special memories for me.

The very brief Chapter Nine brings Hemingway back to Paris and the Ritz Bar and quickly sums up the sad final years for the writer.

Unfortunately, there are errors in the text that will irritate the careful reader of Hemingway. The most egregious is the attribution to Jake Barnes of a statement made by Count Mippipopolous in The Sun Also Rises (Conrad 66). It is clear from the context and the expression "my dear" that it is the count who says to Brett, "`This wine is too good for toast-drinking, my dear. You don't want to mix emotions up with a wine like that. You lose the taste'" (SAR 66).

The misspelling of "Ernest" as "Earnest" in bold print on page 49 is probably a printer's error, but it is too reminiscent of careless errors in our students' papers.

Overall, though, Hemingway's France is a delightful book and will be especially enjoyed by the literary traveller to France.

Michael Palin's note on the title page of his Hemingway Adventure states that the book "is not, nor is it intended to be, a transcript of the series. The book has a life of its own" Having seen the BBC television documentary on videotape, I agree that there are differences, and for me they are pleasing ones. Though a bit disappointed in the film version, I thoroughly enjoyed Palin's book and found it to be rather substantial.

While Palin's famous wit is still there, it is not quite the dominant force it is in the BBC production. For instance, while the reader who has also seen the video will recognize the photograph of Palin riding up the Avenue Hoche in a WWII American tank (recreating Hemingway's "liberation" of Paris) from the television series, the book has an abundance of serious moments as well. Of course, Palin's purpose remains the same--to experience decades later as many as possible of the places and activities as Hemingway experienced. In this the book succeeds admirably, giving an excellent indication of those places that still retain some authenticity versus those where the experience has been irretrievably lost.

Although not every Hemingway site is visited, the book is the most inclusive of any of the Hemingway "travel" books I have read. There are chapters on Oak Park, Michigan, Italy, Paris, Spain, Key West, Africa, Cuba, and the American West, and the full color photographs are nicely balanced with substantive text.

The chapters are, for the most part, arranged chronologically, so the book naturally opens at the Hemingway Birthplace Home in Oak Park, Illinois. From there, Palin travels to northern Michigan to experience the sites of Hemingway's youth and the settings for many of the early short stories. The book includes an interesting photograph of a lake steamer like the ones the Hemingway family would have used on their summer journeys. There are also wonderful photographs of Windemere and the Horton Bay General Store as they look today. In Petoskey, people tell Palin to visit the Kewadin Casino, across Mackinac Bridge, if he wants to know what the descendants of the Indians Hemingway wrote about are doing now. Since Palin travelled this far, I wonder why he did not continue on to Seney and the Fox River, the settings for "Big Two-Hearted River." He would surely have had an authentic experience there, especially with the help of the knowledgeable folks in the Michigan Hemingway Society.

Shifting his Hemingway adventure to Europe, Palin takes an express train from Paris to Milan, just as Hemingway did in June 1918. Ironically, the building which was the Red Cross Hospital where Ernest met Agnes is now a bank, but at the Maggiore Hospital, where Ernest had physiotherapy after his wounding, Palin takes a first aid class. Next, Palin travels to Fossalta and visits the farmhouse where Hemingway was billeted. In Venice, Palin is invited duck-shooting by Barone Alberto Franchetti--Hemingway met Adriana Ivancich at the private reserve owned by Alberto's father.

The whimsical photograph opening the section on Paris raises the question of how much of Hemingway's Paris remains today. On one side there is a classical statue of a young girl listening to a seashell; beside her stands a modern Parisienne with the ubiquitous cell phone to her ear. Palin's perfect pitch continues as he cites the opening line of A Moveable Feast: "Then there was the bad weather." Because Palin and his crew arrive in Paris in February, he is forced to conclude that Hemingway was right: "The weather is lousy" (Palin 73).

Palin's description of his visit to Ernest and Hadley's apartment at 74 rue du Cardinal Lemoine is a highlight of the chapter, though the apartment itself is much changed from the 1920s. Although Palin engages in some of the sports (such as tennis and boxing) that Hemingway enjoyed in Paris, the chapter seems rather thin. Perhaps it was the "lousy" weather.

The section on Spain, however, is the longest and one of the best in the book. Much space is devoted to Pamplona, and there are wonderful photographs of the encierro and other important events of the Fiesta de San Fermin. The text accurately depicts some of the less pleasant aspects as well: the crowds, the devastation in the streets, and the subsequent cleaning up with high pressure hoses. Many of us who were in Pamplona for the International Hemingway Conference in 1992 will recognize Palin's description of the early morning streets: "Fortified by the excesses of the night, the town radiates a sweet, sickly smell of stale booze.... The soles of my shoes stick to the flagstones of the arcade" (103).

After Pamplona, Palin heads to Madrid and says that much of the "Hemingway trail" still exists there. Then there is Valencia where Ernest and Hadley travelled in 1925. Of all the places Palin visits, Spain seems to be one of the best for authentically experiencing the Hemingway adventure.

Key West may be the worst. Although one can visit Hemingway's home on Whitehead Street and the original Sloppy Joe's Bar (now Captain Tony's), the commercialization of present day Key West, especially as it relates to Hemingway, is appalling. Palin mentions a local cartoonist named David Laughlin who has summed up the situation: "In one of his cartoons a bull sits pounding away at a typewriter beneath a head of Hemingway sticking out of the wall" (150).

The long chapter on Africa is one of the most interesting. Palin follows the Hemingway legend with a visit to the Chyulu Hills and a view of Mt. Kilimanjaro. The humorist seems as moved by the beauty of the country as Hemingway was, but "things have changed. Most people who come to Africa nowadays shoot the animals with Leica and Pentax rather than Mannlicher and Browning" (163). Palin does seem to have a true Hemingway adventure, though, as he flies in a single engine plane through heavy rain on the way to Murchison Falls, near the site where the Hemingways' plane crashed in 1954. Later, in Butiaba, the site of the Hemingways' second plane crash, a village elder who has saved pieces of the wreckage remembers Hemingway exiting the plane with his hair on fire.

In Cuba, Palin makes the requisite visit to the Ambos Mundos Hotel where he enjoys the view that Hemingway wrote about in Esquire in 1933. At the Floridita, Palin indulges in a number of Papa Dobles but is not allowed to sit on Hemingway's roped off barstool. In regard to Hemingway's home, the Finca Vigia, however, Palin makes a significant error by stating that the house "was left to the Cuban government by Hemingway when he decided to leave his adopted island following Castro's revolution ..." (204). Hemingway scholars know this is not how it happened.

Palin's wit delights, though, as he describes his first meeting with the 101 year old Gregorio Fuentes, "the longest surviving of Hemingway's old pals," and "now one of the most famous fishermen since St. Peter" (217). Palin himself, however, is unlikely to become a famous fisherman. His luck is no better at hunting huge marlin in the Gulf Stream than it was fishing for trout at Horton Creek.

Back in the United States, Palin travels to Wyoming and Montana. His deeply felt visit to the author's home in Ketchum, Idaho and the cemetery where Ernest and Mary are buried concludes the book in a very un-Pythonesque tone.

Michael Palin's Hemingway Adventure will inform and entertain. With excellent photographs of most of the places the Hemingway fan really wants to see, the book is well worth owning.

H. Lea Lawrence's A Hemingway Odyssey was originally published in 1992 as Prowling Papa's Waters. The original title seems more apt as Lawrence's focus throughout is on places where Hemingway fished. With this theme in mind, Lawrence visits Walloon Lake and the Fox River in Michigan, various spots in Europe, Key West, Bimini, Cuba, and the American West.

Although there are many biographical details, the emphasis is definitely on the fishing, with numerous comparisons between the sites today and in Hemingway's time.

There is lots of good advice for fishermen who want to follow in Papa's footsteps. In Michigan, for instance, one stream after another is thoroughly described, with information about hazards and types of fish populations. Even some driving directions are included.

In Europe, France is dismissed as a Hemingway fishing spot in spite of a brief nod to the fishermen of the Seine. Some canals in Switzerland fare better. In Cortina, Italy, Lawrence speaks to an old man who remembers fishing with Hemingway in 1949. Lawrence finds the Irati area and Burguete in northern Spain, with the opportunity to catch big trout, remarkably unchanged from Hemingway's day.

Considerable attention is devoted to Hemingway's ten years in Key West and Lawrence says that the author first learned the skills of salt water fishing when he came in 1928. The experiences of fighting truly big fish were, of course, tremendously important to the writing that was to come.

The most interesting parts of A Hemingway Odyssey for the non-angler may be the occasional anecdotes told to Lawrence by people who had personal encounters with Hemingway. For instance, during the Depression, Hemingway gave each kid at the dock in Key West a fish to take home. Emilio Burgohy was one of those kids, and now as an old man he tells Lawrence how he never forgot Hemingway's kindness.

Lawrence visits the private island of Cat Cay, near Bimini, as the guest of John Morris, owner of Bass Pro Shops. Morris's interest in deep sea fishing was inspired by reading The Old Man and the Sea in his youth and now Morris has a restaurant named "Hemingway's" in his Springfield, Missouri store. Unfortunately, though, the fishing at Cat Cay isn't as good today as it was in Hemingway's day.

While this book is geared toward the general reader with an interest in fishing where Hemingway fished, other readers of Hemingway may find something of interest as well.

--Charlene Murphy, Massachusetts Bay Community College
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Title Annotation:Review
Author:Murphy, Charlene
Publication:The Hemingway Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Sep 22, 2000
Previous Article:Michael Palin's Hemingway Adventure.

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