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Showing posts from September 13, 2016

Ernest Hemingway and Martha Gellhorn - World War II

On August 25th 1944, Martha Gellhorn was sitting on a beach overlooking the Adriatic reading D.H. Lawrence's Women In Love, drinking rum and watching a young Allied airman float down to Earth (dead or alive she did not know) hanging from the very life tentacles of his parachute. She wondered how many more young men must die before this bloody war was over.

As Martha flicked over the page, unable to concentrate as the airman came ever closer to earth, she came across this passage:
“ Whatever life might be, it could not take away death, the inhuman transcendent death. Oh, let us ask no question of it, what it is or is not. To know is human, and in death we do not know, we are not human. And the joy of this compensates for all the bitterness of knowledge and the sordidness of our humanity. In death we shall not be human, and we shall not know. The promise of this is our heritage, we look forward like heirs to their majority.”
Martha was struck dumb by this passage, by the very correctne…

Ernest Hemingway and the Aftermath of the Great War

The great virtue for Hemingway of working for the Toronto Star was the chance it gave him to travel throughout the continent of Europe.
In March 1923 Hemingway and Hadley arrived in a Germany rattled by horrendous inflation and violent confrontation between opposing political ideologies and their cohorts of thugs. The German mark was on its way to becoming utterly worthless. And just before inflation reached its peak in late 1923 wheel barrows and horse-drawn carts were needed to carry the money around to simply buy a loaf of bread, if you could find a loaf of bread.
Most German households found it cheaper to burn money than buy firewood. In July 1923 a ten million mark note was introduced, and in November a 100 million mark note came into circulation. Inland postal rates rose from just over half a mark in April 1921, to 1000 million marks in December 1923. The whole situation was ludicrous, and if it hadn’t been so desperate and cruel could have made an excellent Hollywood comedy.
When…