Evan Shipman: friend and foil.
As is the case in most relationships, Hemingway and Shipman connected through similar interests, but perhaps the more interesting story lies in their differences. Their love of Paris, good books, writing, horse racing, fishing, and art gave them ample common ground, but their differences may have given their friendship its length and strength.
A foil is the thin coat of tin or silver laid on the back of a mirror. Some reflections of Hemingway and Shipman were very different. For example, Hemingway was six feet tall, spent most of his life in the neighborhood of zoo pounds, and was tough. Shipman was lanky and fragile. No one ever accused him of being robust. Hemingway took pride in threatening others not only with his size and strength, but with his many abilities (writing, hunting, fishing, boxing) and his fame. Shipman threatened no one, especially Hemingway, which was another key to their long friendship.
Hemingway was born in Oak Park, Illinois on 21 July 1899. Shipman was born on 23 October 1904 in Cornish, New Hampshire. They both were born into socially well-established families. Their fathers were professionals. Clarence Edmonds Hemingway was a doctor; Louis Evan Shipman was a moderately successful playwright. He wrote a series of romantic comedies as well as D'Arcy of the Guards, a play and novel about the American Revolution, and for a short time edited Life magazine in the early 1920s (Josephson 840). Hemingway graduated from Oak Park-River Forest High School in June 1917, months later was a reporter, and in May 1918 sailed for Europe and the war. Shipman enrolled in Groton, Massachusetts and Salisbury, Connecticut schools, but finished at neither. Groton records do indicate that he was an "omnivorous reader." But the lure of New England county fair horse racing proved too tempting and he ran away with the horses. Formal education for both ended with high school. Both young men were close to their fathers and at odds with their mothers. They met in Paris.
Evan Shipman went to Paris from New York late in 1924. His father, Louis, was also there and they traveled around together between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Evan was enthusiastic about a career in literature. His father was in France to take up residence. While Louis was looking for a home, Evan was looking for a young American named Gotham Munson. Munson edited a small magazine and Shipman hoped to interest him in some of his poetry (Munson 163-164). When Evan arrived at the address he had been given, he found an American, but not Gorham Munson. Munson had moved back to the States and Ernest and Hadley Hemingway now lived on the second floor above the sawmill at 113 rue Notre Dame des Champs (Letter from Shipman to Hemingway, 29 October 1949). The two young American writers met by accident and started a friendship that Hadley described as instantaneous and remarkably strong, the two spending hours talking openly (Brenner 421).
By this time Hemingway had published Three Stories and Ten Poems (1923) and was starting to look like the epitome of a Left Bank writer. He introduced Evan to Gertrude Stein at her well-appointed rue de Fleurus apartment. She in turn introduced Evan to Andre Masson, a penniless young painter with promise. Hemingway, Shipman, and Masson became close friends. Their significant abilities to raise hell were as synchronized as the small gears in Miss Stein's fine watch. Masson's neighbor was a young Spanish artist named Joan Miro.
Hemingway is said to have cursed the "wide lawns and narrow minds" of Oak Park. Evan said of New York, "This town stinks and what a hell it is" (Letter from Shipman to Hemingway, 24 December 1928). But Paris in the 1920s spawned free thought and liberal actions that America did not. Creative thought was the passport to the salons where art, literature, and alcohol were the menu du jour. Back in the States the government, with the 18th Amendment, had prohibited the very stuff that stoked the imaginations of the expatriates. A good number of the expatriate circle had early on ascribed to the notion that any alcohol vaguely potable was worth the effort. The notion took its toll on many of them. Like his friend Hemingway, Shipman drank heavily.
By 1925 Hemingway had published In Our Time and Shipman had published his first two poems in the December issue of the short-lived but celebrated transatlantic review. When Grace Hemingway expressed shock at the raw subjects and language in some of her son's stories, he wrote her off. The specter of not being able to please his mother stayed with him until the end. Ernest did not attend her funeral. Evan was on again, off again with his mother who, like Grace Hemingway, disapproved of her son's ways. Evan did attend her funeral.
Although literature was the original nexus between Hemingway and Shipman, horse racing provided another strong connection. Hemingway and his friends were avid racing fans in the 1920s and racing was Shipman's long suit, especially the trotters. He had been captivated by the trotters at the New England county fairs and now he was earning a small salary writing articles for American racing publications while often losing its equivalent or more at the track. He continued to publish poems in several magazines including The New Republic, The Nation, and Scribner's. Later, he would publish racing articles in these same magazines. Hemingway, Masson, and Shipman became the Athos, Porthos, and Aramis of the French racetracks. Masson tells of the time he and Shipman and Hemingway went to the track outside Paris, a feat they no doubt could have accomplished with their eyes closed and perhaps sometimes did. At first they won and celebrated with drink. But as such things go, their luck went south and they lost it all, including train fare home. Shipman was able to talk a taxi driver into taking them to Harry's New York Bar where, because the bartender was a fan of Evan's, he knew he could borrow enough for the taxi and another round of drinks (Josephson 831-832).
Shipman's nephew, Nick Angell, now living in New York, also remembers a racetrack cab story:
When Evan was working at the Morning Telegraph, he would invite me in sometimes for lunch or just to visit. We would leave the building and outside a cab would be waiting. We would ride out to Belmont or Jamaica. I would notice that the meter in the cab was not turned on. The cabby would ask Evan, "What looks good today?" Evan would respond with eight recommendations, one for each race. Later I would see the cabby at the track and later still he would give us a ride home. (Interview with the author).
Hemingway taught Shipman to fish for trout; Shipman taught Hemingway to handicap horses (Letter from Shipman to Hemingway, 25 August 1928). Shipman had learned the art of handicapping in the betting tents of the racing circuit (O'Rourke 89). Hemingway's eldest son, Jack, remembered Shipman's experience as an odds maker (24). In an interview with Lillian Ross, Hemingway told her that he loved to go back to Paris, and that one of the things he wanted to do was "learn the form and try and pick winners in the blue smoky afternoons, and then go out the next day and play them at Auteuil and Enghien." Mary Hemingway then added "Papa is a good handicapper" (Ross 30). Shipman had done his job well.
While Hemingway was writing The Sun Also Rises (1926), Men Without Women (dedicated to Shipman in 1927), and A Farewell To Arms (1929), Shipman's poetry was being published in company with that of E.E. Cummings, Ezra Pound, and William Carlos Williams. After Shipman's return to the U.S. in the early 1930s, he concentrated on writing prose. Hemingway introduced him to Maxwell Perkins and Shipman and Perkins became good friends. A result of this friendship, lasting until Perkins's death in 1947, was Shipman's novel about trotters, Free For All, published by Scribner's in 1935. The book is a sequence of sketches written simply, without literary exaggeration. Sherwood Anderson, reviewing it for The New Republic, compared Shipman to Hemingway and Faulkner, but despite, the good review the novel did not sell well (Channick 2). (2) Hemingway meanwhile had published Death in the Afternoon (1932) and Green Hills of Africa (1935).
Soon after his return to the States, Shipman married Elizabeth Gerwig of Pittsburgh, but the marriage did not last. They both drank heavily and Elizabeth had deep emotional issues which led to her confinement in a mental hospital (Channick 2). Hemingway at this time was married to Pauline Pfeiffer, having divorced Hadley Richardson in 1927. Shipman, in his epic poem "Mazeppa" describes women as flowers, whose sweet voices turn to the harsh and shrill complaining of deserted strumpets (Letter from Shipman to Hemingway, 29 October 1932).
In another reflection of his friend Hemingway, Shipman in the summer of 1937 was involved with war and ambulances. He volunteered to help deliver three ambulances through France into Spain for the Loyalist Forces fighting Franco. After delivering the ambulances, he-returned to Paris where he agreed to lead American volunteers for the Abraham Lincoln Brigade back into Spain. While attempting to cross the Pyrenees at night and on foot, the group was arrested by French border guards and jailed for six weeks in Toulouse (Letter from Shipman to Hemingway, 21 June 1938). After enlisting as an infantryman in 1937, Shipman showed great courage in the fiercest battle of the Spanish Civil War, as noted by Hemingway in his introduction to Men At War, where he describes Shipman as one of his oldest friends and one of the bravest men he knew. When Hemingway saw Shipman several months after the battle, "He was pale, ragged, limping and profoundly cheerful" (xxv). Shipman had been hit in both thighs by machinegun bullets from a strafing plane.
Hemingway's characterization of Shipman is vintage Shipman:
"Why, Hem, it was absolutely nothing. It was nothing at all. I never felt a thing."
"What do you mean, you didn't feel a thing?"
"Why, it was really; nothing. You see, I was unconscious at the time"
"You see the planes had just caught us in the open and bombed us and I was unconscious at the time. So I didn't feel a thing when they came down and machine gunned us. Really, Hem, it was absolutely nothing. I've hardly thought of it as a wound. It was almost like having an anesthetic beforehand." (MAW xxv-vi)
Clearly Hemingway was proud of his friend's bravery. It was a characteristic they shared and it bonded them. In the preface of Men at War, the description of Shipman is juxtaposed with examples of self-inflicted wounds. Hemingway shows both ends of the spectrum of soldierly behavior and uses his friend as an example of the best and bravest. Not only does Shipman, in typical fashion, downplay his wounds and his bravery; but, unbelievably, he thanks Hemingway for getting him into the war:
"Hem, I can never thank you enough for having brought me over here. I was very upset that you might be worried about me. I want you to know that being in Spain is the happiest time I've ever had in my life" (MAW xxvi).
From 1938 to 1941, Shipman was a columnist for New York's Morning Telegraph (the leading daily newspaper covering professional sports) while Hemingway was publishing For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940). When World War II broke out and Hemingway was a correspondent, Shipman enlisted in the tank corps after several tries (MAW xxvi). To his displeasure he spent most of the war at Fort Knox, Kentucky, teaching tank tactics to troops for Patton's army. Shortly before the war ended he was finally transferred to a combat unit for the advance into Germany. After the war, in his 40s, Shipman was highly regarded as a horse-racing columnist and writer. Because of his unusual powers of observation, his technical appraisals of horses and horseracing were especially valued. He was made a featured columnist of the Morning Telegraph, free to write on whatever he pleased (Josephson 851).
In the 1950s, the Abraham Lincoln Brigade was declared a communist organization and Shipman was asked to testify on their behalf at hearings. As you might guess, there were not a lot of folks lining up to do this. Once again, this time in the face of an intimidating prosecutor, Shipman displayed courage and class.
In 1954, a year after winning the Pulitzer for The Old Man and the Sea, Hemingway hit the daily double with the Nobel Prize "for his powerful stylemaking mastery of the art of modern narration" (cited in Baker 528). Meanwhile, Shipman continued his celebrity as a horse-racing expert. By the time he was fifty, Shipman was "a fine ruin of a man" but still with strong powers of observation, an independent mind, and a prose style that was at once fluent and classical (Josephson 851, 853). His reputation was not in the Pulitzer/Nobel category; however, he was regarded with considerable reverence at race tracks around the country. Shipman was, of course, but a candle to the burning sun of his good friend; and even then his flame had begun to flicker. His health failed and he died of cancer in 1957 (New York Times 25 June 1957). He was buried in Plainfield, New Hampshire in the family cemetery.
Throughout their friendship, Hemingway and Shipman built upon their common interests and stick-handled around their differences. Hemingway Loved hunting. He killed animals in America, Europe, and Africa and enjoyed watching them being killed in the afternoon in Spain and Mexico. He was often photographed smiling, kneeling next to a dead animal. Shipman hated bullfighting, never owned a gun or hunted, and took care of horses most of his life. Some of his favorite photos were with live animals. Hemingway's son Patrick remembered "how gently and kindly [Shipman] looked after not only me but the horses in our lives" While Hemingway was hunting animals on safari, Shipman was writing, "The beautiful animal against the horizon / Is pursued by hunters and ... I am but a temporary refuge" (Letter from Shipman to Hemingway, 22 January 1932). But this difference did not stop Shipman from inviting Hemingway to New Hampshire to hunt deer, while reminding him that he didn't like hunting (Letter from Shipman to Hemingway, 7 August 1928). The reminder was repeated (Letter from Shipman to Hemingway, 28 January 1935).
The fact that Shipman's distaste for hunting did not extend to combat was more about courage than guns. Both Hemingway and Shipman survived war experiences and injuries. Hemingway wrote novels about his: Shipman wrote Hemingway a nine page letter that reads like a screenplay (2 June 1938). Hemingway carried some of his shrapnel in his change purse and had some forged into a ring. Shipman carried his in his legs and made light of the incident (MAW xxv).
Hemingway could bluster and browbeat and bully, especially when arguing points about which he thought he knew everything. Budd Schulberg describes an example of this in Sparring with Hemingway--a half-drunk Hemingway actually pushes with his bare chest against Schulberg, a boxing expert, in an attempt to intimidate him in a discussion about the sport. Shipman's reflection in this mirror was one of sensitivity and self-effacement. His manner was low-keyed and disarming. Shipman was the background to Hemingway's foreground. Hemingway was one of the greatest writers of the 20th century; Shipman was not and did not voice pretensions in that direction. In fact, he was "supremely indifferent to pubic fame" (Josephson 830). In many ways, they were very different people who got along famously. They were a study in contrasts and there was no competition between them.
Perhaps the closest they came to competing involved the purchase of Miro's painting "The Farm" Both Hemingway and Shipman wanted to buy it. There are varying accounts of what happened, but Shipman, who already had made a down-payment on the painting, offered either to roll dice (Hemingway's version) or flip a coin (Shipman's version) to see who would buy the Miro. Sean O'Rourke believes Shipman agreed to "toss a coin" for the right to buy the painting. They flipped and Shipman won. However, when he saw how his friend felt, Shipman let him have the painting (O'Rourke 157). It was Shipman's way. In her book Hadley, Gioia Diliberto characterizes Shipman's offer as "gallant" (202). That was also his way. Hemingway gave the painting to Hadley for her thirty-fourth birthday in 1925. When they divorced, Hadley kept the painting, but Hemingway "borrowed" it back, never to return it. Mary Hemingway eventually donated it to The National Gallery in Washington, D.C. where it is today. A copy also hangs at the J.F.K. Library in Boston.
In a letter to Hemingway dated Monday, 28 January 1935, Shipman explains the reason he hasn't written in awhile:
I hoped to have work that I was proud of to tell you about. I find that I care more about that than anything and my respect for what you are doing makes me ashamed of my own limitations. I suppose that the best any friend can be is a conscience or a standard in the better sense of those words and you have always seemed that to me. What I do is so small in the face of what I want and the fault lies with my own slovenliness and procrastination.
Shipman looked to his friend as his literary conscience and standard. He borrowed money from Hemingway who also helped him by sending a poem of his to Scribner's (Letter from Shipman to Hemingway, 20 June 1929), just as Hemingway had earlier borrowed money from F. Scott Fitzgerald, who facilitated an introduction to Scribner's. But the gratitude shown by Shipman to Hemingway was far different from Hemingway's to Fitzgerald. Where Shipman was deeply grateful ("Thank you 1000 times for sending Scribner's my poem"), Hemingway's "gratitude" to Scott (at least in A Moveable Feast) is thankless at best.
Hemingway's friendship was not easy to cultivate. He danced with many demons, about which much has been written. He was moody. He suffered from cyclical depression and paranoia. He angered easily. Shipman's approach to life was gentle. He possessed a mildness of manner and disposition that formed the basis of a very principled attitude toward his life and those in it. He attempted in a passive, fraternal way to moderate and placate his robust, often explosive friend. And he succeeded. Any notion that Shipman was this way only toward Hemingway is dispelled upon discovering he was the same toward a wide range of everyday people, especially those in no position to help and those whose only distinction was that they happened to meet Shipman.
One of the keys to the friendship was that Shipman never challenged Hemingway, especially in the area of literature, where Hemingway served as his literary compass. This is evident in Shipman's letter to Hemingway of 28 January 1935:
I want to write poetry again but not now not until I am sure of myself with prose. What I will write then will be very different than anything I have ever done. My great trouble is getting outside of myself. I was ready to write verse 10 years before I could write a line of prose and now my imagination is so far ahead of what I can say that my mind is constantly telling itself stories working on them the first thing when I wake up or when I am walking. They are sure and complete in my mind. Only with the greatest difficulty do I ever recapture that on paper. You were right years ago it is the most absorbing thing in the world, the hardest, the cruelest and the most fun, when it doesn't beat you by shaming you or lying to you.
As a friend, Evan Shipman was very supportive of Hemingway's work. When he would travel back to New York and Hemingway would be in Paris or vice versa, Shipman wrote letters giving Hemingway feedback as well as keeping him posted on how his writings were selling and being received critically:
Your new book was announced in today's papers ... I suppose you ought to know but I'll tell you again that you have them knocked cold over here ... the New Republic has all sorts of adjectives for you, athletic, (illegible)." (Letter to Hemingway, 8 September 1927)
Hem, the book is great and it has swell stories. (Sat 1927)
Torrents of Spring has been out about a month. The edition looks well, has a nice format. I think it's selling too because I went to two places the other day to get it and each was sold out ... I read the Transition and the short stories and thought it was good. All the Frenchmen are crazy about it. Someone asked me the other day about you and you and Dos Passos are very much read over here and if you don't look out you'll be founders of a school. (22 January 1932)
I liked your articles in Esquire. (28 January 1935)
You were hitting as fast and as controlled and as hard as you ever did. Thank God for craftsmanship ... That's all the praise business but you know how I feel. (30 November 1950)
Shipman was careful not to criticize his friend or his work and to blunt the unfavorable criticism of others: "one thing you and Scott shared was that you were both better critics than any of the critics" (Letter to Hemingway, 30 November 1950). It was not in Shipman's personality to criticize, but he did come cleverly close in a letter to Hemingway dated 29 October 1950 where he discusses Byron (who wrote "Mazeppa," a poem about a mythical horse and the title of Shipman's extended poem). Shipman quotes Byron on criticism--"[I]f favorable, I do not deny that the praise elates, and if unfavorable, that the abuse hurts." The message to his friend Hemingway was that criticism hurts, but it goes with the territory. It is an irritant. It should not consume you. Hemingway hated unfavorable criticism and often let it ruin his day, as well as the days of most of those within earshot.
Like a good friend Shipman commiserates. In a letter to Hemingway dated 8 February 1939 from his office at the Morning Telegraph, Shipman writes: "I figured that you might be coming to New York to look after the rehearsals of the play [The Fifth Column] but when I asked Max to go up to New Haven to look at the opening he said that you were pretty well disgusted with what they'd done with it. I think it's a shame that they mishandled it--anyway if people want to know what you really said they can read the book."
In a letter to Hemingway dated 22 January 1932, Shipman discusses the status of epic poems. At the time he was having difficulty finishing his 217 line "Mazeppa." Mazeppa was the semi-mythical courtier of a Polish king who, charged with seduction, was bound to the back of a wild horse and driven out to die in the steppes. The rider is eventually saved by the bravery of the horse and goes on to become a glorious military leader of the Ukraine (Josephson 854). Shipman also had a wandering life and was "saved" by horses and horsemen. Shipman quotes Edgar Allan Poe: "The time for, long poems is gone. Not only can you find no one to read them but you can't find anyone to write them either." The letter goes on to mention Harry (Harold Stearns) a mutual friend who has fallen on difficult times. In the midst of this discussion, taking place deep in the Depression when money was tight and few were sharing, Shipman mentions modestly with just ten words, "I kept him in hotel and meals for three months."
Another story that reveals Shipman's good nature appears in a letter to Hemingway dated 5 August 1928. Shipman had "lost all his jack" betting on horses and had to meet his sister, so he jumped a train (Shipman was no stranger to jumping trains, a practice he recalls in "Mazeppa"). He had left his coat somewhere (evidently a habit as we see later in A Moveable Feast) and, as he says, his white shirt didn't show well. A railway policeman found him and was going to arrest him and give him sixty days until they started talking and the policeman discovered what a likeable soul Shipman was. He winds up buying Shipman breakfast instead of arresting him. This is not unlike the French Guarde Mobile who arrested Shipman in 1938 for an illegal border crossing. In a letter dated 21 June a938, Shipman told Hemingway that the arresting soldiers bought him cognac and tobacco out of their own money and did not handcuff him as they were supposed to do. Milton Wolff, who fought as a member of the Lincoln Brigade in Spain (and later served with the oss in WWII), and who called Hemingway and the other war correspondents "tourists," described Shipman as "a great friend of Hemingway's and a marvelous guy ..." (Cited in Brian 110).
Shipman's sensitivity is evident in his writings and his letters. His sketches of tramps in Free for All are drawn with great compassion. The same trait surfaces in his description of Andre Masson in 1944. An edition of Andre's drawings had recently been released and the artist came into New York from his home in Connecticut to have dinner with Shipman, who had sent a copy of the book of drawings to Hemingway. Andre was failing and not what he used to be. Shipman's account was kind:
I liked the drawings and I wish that you would like them too ... Andre is a little subdued, in fact the fierce quality that I remember so well is either gone or else buried too deep for me to have re-discovered in so short a time with him but the delicacy and the perception both about writing and painting was still there and still delightful. (Letter to Hemingway, 11 January 1944)
One of the paintings Shipman talks about in this letter is "The Dice Players," which Hemingway purchased from Masson and which now hangs at the Kennedy Library. As we saw, Hemingway and Shipman may have "played dice" for another painting. It would be more interesting if "The Dice Players" were Hemingway and Shipman but they are not. The painting, however, may have influenced Hemingway's recollection of the method used to determine who would purchase the Miro (O'Rourke 157).
Much of A Moveable Feast was written (1957-1960) with a poison pen. The book has been described as mean-spirited (in much the same way that The Torrents of Spring was toward Sherwood Anderson or Green Hills of Africa toward Charley Thompson). In Feast, Hemingway takes some solid shots at some substantial celebrities; but as noted, his portrait of Shipman (AMF 131-140) is favorable. Hemingway describes Shipman as both a fine poet (135) and a very fine poet (146) and also compares Shipman's kindness to Fitzgerald's lack thereof (168). In a 1942 letter to Shipman, Hemingway had written "I am always proud of you Evan ... I am going to write a story about you sometime to show you what I mean" (SL 539).
Hemingway's portrait of his friend in A Moveable Feast is titled "Evan Shipman at the Lilas." The Closerie des Lilas was and is a cafe on the corner of boulevard Port Royal and avenue l'Observatoire near where Hemingway had replaced Gorham Munson at 113 rue Notre Dame de Champs. Hemingway and Shipman logged many hours in the "sun-striped dusk of the Lilas" (AMF 135). The chapter takes place there and reveals Hemingway's esteem of Shipman.
Hemingway describes a man without much money, writing poetry in Paris in the 1920s. Shipman has a shabby shirt and a worn suit, but his tie is carefully knotted. Much of the time Shipman would be shabbily dressed, but he always had a touch of the patrician about him. His manner was at once reserved and gracious (Josephson 830). He stands when Ernest approaches. We like him already. Evan orders two whiskies from Jean the waiter. Evan says "please." He is polite. A few lines later we learn that Jean "loved" Evan because he often went out to Montrouge and worked with lean in Jean's garden. We like him more. Evan warns the waiter not to pour more whiskey into their glasses than he is supposed to pour. He is honest and cares for the well-being of others. Hemingway then asks him about himself and Shipman suggests they change the subject. He is modest. Here is a character warmly described by Hemingway in a book not known for its warm descriptions. It is not that the character is so much like the author but that he is liked by him. Placing Shipman next to Hemingway in the Lilas makes their differences obvious. Shipman is thin and pale and fragile with unfortunate teeth. He doesn't like to talk about himself and works in a waiter's garden on the weekends. Hemingway is robust, with a toothy smile, does like to talk about himself, and probably wouldn't work in Jean's garden if he were growing 500 franc notes.
Hemingway worries that Shipman is not dressed warmly enough. He asks if Evan knows where his coat is? Evan says "no" but that he knows it's somewhere safe. When Hemingway asks how he knows it's somewhere safe, Shipman says because he left the poem ("Mazeppa") in it. Shipman laughs, and he often gave Hemingway a reason to smile. In a letter to Hemingway dated 17 January 1944, Shipman says "If I couldn't write you at least half-way cheerfully, I didn't want to write at all." Matthew Josephson and Red Smith, who knew Shipman well, described him as profoundly cheerful and with a rare, sweet smile (Josephson 851).
In "Evan Shipman at the Lilas," the two men talk about translations, mostly translations of the Russians. Hemingway says that even though Ezra Pound never read the "Rooshians" it was Pound who taught him to distrust adjectives (AMF 134). In turn, Hemingway taught Shipman to distrust them, as Shipman writes in "Mazeppa," trimming his writing "like a tailor trims to the essential dimensions" (290, l. 7). Shipman translated French poetry to English and vice versa, and during the Spanish Civil War translated foreign propaganda. In a letter to Hemingway (28 November 1928), Shipman handicaps whether or not a translator can capture what the author intended as a one thousand to one shot. At the chapter's end, Hemingway asks the waiter to remember Mr. Shipman to Jean, to which the waiter replies that Mr. Shipman and Jean are at that moment gardening together (AMF 140). Hemingway used a gentle touch to paint a gentle man.
People liked Evan Shipman. Nick Angell remembers his uncle as a kind and gentle man: "Above all else I remember Evan as gentle" When Hemingway's first son was having difficulty in school, Shipman traveled to Key West to tutor him for four or five months. Jack Hemingway remembered Shipman as a kindly, patient teacher (24). Patrick and Gregory Hemingway also characterized him as "gentle and kind" (Patrick Hemingway, interview with the author; Gregory Hemingway cited in Brenner 427). Matthew Josephson recalls of Shipman "... he was very gentle and patient with children (when visiting us in Connecticut, he would occupy himself reading poetry to my two young sons in the garden while I worked in all-day sessions)" (843). Ernest Hemingway paints a portrait of such a man, and Shipman's letters reveal a strong kindness running through his actions and his manner. He speaks well of others. He glosses over the faults of his friends including Hemingway. Although Hemingway was far and away the greater figure--a better writer and a huge celebrity--he was tough, probably tougher than he had to be. Being kind was not as important to Hemingway as were a host of other attributes, centering around his fame as a writer and his knowledge of a host of subjects.
If Hemingway admired Shipman's kindness, he celebrated his courage and knowledge. As we see in the preface to Men at War, Shipman was one of the bravest men Hemingway knew. Hemingway also admired his friend's knowledge of horses. Shipman taught Hemingway about horses, and Hemingway used what he learned in his writing. To be sure, Shipman too learned from Hemingway, especially about writing. In his preface to The Racing Memoirs of John Hertz As Told To Evan Shipman, Shipman says, "Literature must be a condensation"(xvi). In Free For All he employs a literary economy and simplicity reminiscent of Hemingway's.
Ernest Hemingway and Evan Shipman shared many of the same stimuli: Paris in the 1920s, being short of money, loving art and writing and adventure, reading the same books, Spain, war injuries, friends doing well, friends doing not so well, families of culture, mothers they disappointed, fathers with whom they bonded, having their work criticized at times unkindly, and the list goes on. Most of the time, they reacted to these things in very different ways, yet they remained friends. Hemingway may have lost as many friends as he found, but the friendship he shared with Shipman went the distance.
There is a passage that was deleted from the final version of A Moveable Feast where Hemingway noted, "Evan would back you up but he is dead" (Brenner 592). The kindly, courageous, and reliable Shipman was no longer there and he was missed by his still burly but now confused larger-than-life friend who had turned out to be one hell of a substitute for Gorham Munson.
Men like Hemingway make up their own rules because they need to win, and even though they may know most of it, they think they know it all. These men are difficult to please. Friendships with them are arduous. If Hemingway and Shipman had been on a sports team, Hemingway would have no doubt led the team in scoring and probably penalty minutes. The media would have camped out in front of his locker. Shipman would have led the team in assists and would have come and gone without many people noticing. But even the Hemingways need good friends. Without them the game is not worth the play.
I would like to thank Nick Angell, Evan Shipman's nephew, who was of great assistance, sharing knowledge and memories, and pointing me in fruitful directions. I would also like to thank Sean O'Rourke and my son Dane for photographs
(1.) A four page biography of Shipman by Channick was an attachment to a letter from Herb Channick to Henry Chauncey in May 1973. Chauncey sent it to Groton School in 1986.
Angell, Nick. Interviews with the author. 3,24, 27 May 2002; 19, 26 June 2002; 2 August 2002.
Baker, Carlos. Ernest Hemingway: A Life Story. New York: Scribner's, 1969.
Brenner, Gerry. A Comprehensive Companion to Hemingway's A Moveable Feast: Annotation to Interpretation. Book Two. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen, 2000.
Brian, Denis. The True Gen. New York: Grove, 1988.
Channick, Herbert. Letter to Henry Chauncey. May 1973. Archives of Groton School. Groton, MA.
Diliberto, Gioia. Hadley. New York: Ticknor and Fields, 1992.
"Evan B. Shipman, Racing Writer, 53." New York Times 25 June 1957. 23.
"Evan B. Shipman, Racing Expert, Dies." [New York] Morning Telegraph. 25 June 1957. 27.
Hemingway, Ernest. Death in the Afternoon. New York: Scribner's, 1932.
--. Ernest Hemingway: Selected Letters 1917-1961. Ed. Carlos Baker. New York: Scribner's, 1961.
--. Green Hills of Africa. New York: Scribner's, 1935.
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|Publication:||The Hemingway Review|
|Article Type:||Critical Essay|
|Date:||Sep 22, 2003|
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