Ernest Hemingway Biography @  The Cuban Years. 



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Martha Gellhorn, Hemingway's third wife.




   Ernest Hemingway Biography> Cuba


After returning from Spain and divorcing Pauline, Hemingway and Martha moved to a large house outside Havana, Cuba. They named it Finca Vigia ("Lookout Farm"), and Hemingway decorated it with hunting trophies from his African safari. He had begun work on For Whom The Bell Tolls in 1939 in Cuba and worked on it on the road as he traveled back to Key West or to Wyoming or to Sun Valley, finishing it in July of 1940. The book was a huge success, both critically and commercially, prompting Sinclair Lewis to write that it was "the American book published during the three years past which was most likely to survive, to be know fifty years from now, or possibly a might just possibly be a masterpiece, a classic..." Oddly, the book was unanimously voted the best novel of the year by the Pulitzer Prize committee, but was vetoed for political reason by the conservative president of Columbia University; no prize was awarded that year. The book sold over 500,000 copies in just six months, and continues to sell well today.

The next ten years would be a creatively fallow period for Hemingway, (it would be 1950 before he would publish another novel) but while he looked more interested in bolstering his public image at the expense of his work, he was actually immersed in several large writing projects which he could never seem to complete. During the 1940's he worked on what would become the heavily edited and posthumously published novels Islands In The Stream and The Garden Of Eden. In between he would also cover (and some say participate in) World War II, and he would divorce his third wife Martha to marry his fourth, Mary Welsh. In an insightful essay on Hemingway, E. L. Doctorow writes of Hemingway's work during the 40's, discussing The Garden of Eden in particular. "That is exciting because it gives evidence, despite his celebrity, despite his Nobel, despite the torments of his own physical self punishment, of a writer still developing. Those same writing strategies Hemingway formulated to such triumph in his early work came to entrap him in the later...I would like to think that as he began "The Garden of Eden," his very next novel after that war work (For Whom the Bell Tolls), he realized this and wanted to retool, to remake himself. That he would fail is almost not the point--but that he would have tried, which is the true bravery of a writer..."


After his work covering the Spanish Civil War and the subsequent work on his novel For Whom the Bell Tolls, Hemingway took on another assignment, covering the Chinese-Japanese war in 1941. He traveled with his wife Martha and wrote dispatches about the war for PM Magazine. It was a tedious trip and Hemingway was glad to return to Cuba for some well deserved rest. He didn't stay still long. By 1942 Hemingway had undertaken an undercover operation to hunt down German submarines in the Atlantic ocean off the coast of Cuba. Hemingway gathered some of his friends, as well as a few professional operatives, then outfitted his boat Pilar with radio equipment, extra fuel tanks and a nice quantity of ordnance, hoping that if he ever located a German sub he could get close enough to drop a bomb down the hatch. He called the gang the "Crook Factory." Nothing ever came of their sub hunts except a good time fishing and drinking together, in the process irritating Martha who thought Hemingway was avoiding the responsibilities as a great writer to report the real war then raging in Europe.



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