|Posted: 10 April 2006 at 3:58pm | IP Logged
Leo...neat observations and questions which I will get back to you about soon.
There probably aren't many of us- yet - who have read UNDER KILIMANJARO all the way to the end...but...here is some good news:
KSU Press helps birth Papa's last
Hemingway's final unpublished novel has sold out first printing, raised profile of university press
By Carol Biliczky
Beacon Journal staff writer
KENT - At the Kent State University Press, printing 750 to 2,000 copies of a book is about the norm.
So it is no exaggeration to say that a recent release is a runaway best-seller.
The press has sold out the first printing of 10,000 copies of Under Kilimanjaro, the last unpublished novel by Ernest Hemingway, and it has embarked on a second printing that will more than double that.
Perhaps more importantly, the publisher is thrilled to have won the right to produce a work of such stature at all.
``It's done a lot to raise our profile,'' said KSU Press Director Will Underwood. ``We're hoping it sells 25,000 copies over its lifetime.''
The book is especially important because it is the last of four manuscripts the American novelist left in a safe-deposit box in Cuba at the time of his death -- life insurance for his heirs, he called it.
The manuscript -- part handwritten, part typed -- is the fictionalized account of Hemingway's trip to Africa with his fourth wife, Mary, from 1953 to '54. Excerpts were printed in Sports Illustrated in the early 1970s; Hemingway's son, Patrick, published an abridged version called True at First Light in 1999.
By the time the manuscript came to the notice of the KSU Press, the work was in the hands of the Ernest Hemingway Foundation, which is sometimes called the Hemingway Society. It was founded by Mary Hemingway to further study and scholarship of the works of her late husband, who died in 1961.
The society wanted to produce a work that was as close to the original as possible. It chose the Kent press because many society members had had dealings with it and liked what they saw, Underwood said.
The press is also publishing study tools about Hemingway.
The work of massaging the rough, 850-page manuscript fell to two Hemingway scholars and retired English professors: Robert W. Lewis of the University of North Dakota and Robert E. Fleming of the University of New Mexico. They came to be affectionately known to the KSU Press staff as ``the Roberts.''
The work was a challenge, Lewis is quoted as saying in the fall issue of the North Dakota University magazine, UND Discovery.
Not only was Hemingway a poor speller, but he also used words from other languages -- French, Swahili, Spanish -- in the text.
``You couldn't say for sure that it was finished because he might have come back and said, `This loose end needs to be tied up,' '' Lewis said.
And although Hemingway had called the manuscript his ``African book,'' it clearly needed a catchier title. It was Lewis who came up with Under Kilimanjaro.
As for the Kent State Press, it had to agree to do things the way the foundation wanted, Underwood said.
That meant it received only the U.S. rights for the work and could print only a hardback edition, for example. But those were small sacrifices, given the fame of the author.
The work stands out in many ways for Underwood and his staff, which includes marketing manager Susan Cash and editor in chief Joanna Craig. Not only is it the first work of fiction published by the press, but it also is far outpacing any other Kent State book in sales. Only Ohio and its People, by retired University of Akron professor George Knepper, can compete. It has sold 24,000 copies, but has been in print since 1989.
Now, Under Kilimanjaro shares space in Underwood's conference room with 800 other titles the press has published since its inception in the 1960s. About 600 are still in print. Many are about military or local history, true crime and politics.
Some books serve a small slice of the reading public; some have a more universal appeal.
Underwood hopes Under Kilimanjaro, available at bookstores or through the KSU Press for $34, will fall increasingly in the latter category.
For those who want the best, the press printed a special,leather-bound, hand-numbered edition that sells for $75. Almost half of those 1,000 copies have been sold.
Carol Biliczky can be reached at 330-996-3729 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Paul D. Hammersten