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sara g
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Posted: 04 October 2005 at 6:01pm | IP Logged Quote sara g

Hi, I'm a writer in Vancouver, Canada, and I need some help!  I wish to refer to a Hemingway anecdote in my current project, but I only have the sketchy details at this point.  I was wondering if anyone out there would be kind enough to fill in the missing pieces, and perhaps direct me to the original source?

From what I understand, Hemingway lost one or more manuscripts when his wife Hadley, who was travelling to meet him (somewhere in Europe I think, although I may be wrong), forgot his briefcase on the platform of a train station. Hemingway was forced to rewrite from memory -- and felt that the new versions turned out better than the originals.

Is this true?  Where was Hadley travelling to meet Hemingway, and what was the context of this meeting?  Which manuscripts were lost?  Did Hemingway write about this incident himself and if so, could you please direct me to the original source?

Thanks in advance for your help!


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Posted: 04 October 2005 at 11:50pm | IP Logged Quote hijo

Yes, Hemingway wrote about the experience in "A Moveable Feast," his 'fictional memoir' published after his death.

There is also a kind of interesting book, "Hemingway's Suitcase," using the incident as the premise for a story about a failed agent who claims to have somehow acquired the suitcase and to be publishing the stories.

Hemingway went back to Paris because his first wife, Hadley, had said she'd packed the carbons along with his original manuscripts for him to work on as a surprise on a vacation. It is not only possible, but likely his rewriting of the stories from memory were better than what he was originally doing with them, though I believe two of them - including "Up In Michigan," were in the mail to prospective publishers at the time, so not all of them were lost.

But there has, at least since A Moveable Feast, been much speculation about what they contained and looked like, and where they wound up.

Hope that helps somewhat.

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rob on the job
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Posted: 05 October 2005 at 3:44pm | IP Logged Quote rob on the job

Hadley was on her way to Lausanne, in Switzerland, to join Hemingway who was covering a Peace Conference for Hearst's news syndicate.

She thought she would surprise Hemingway by bringing his manuscripts -- in handwritten, carboned and original typewritten forms -- in a valise. She thought he would be happy if he could work on his stories during the down-time from the conference.

Instead, she was at the Gare du Lyon and asked a porter to watch the valise while she ran to get a bottle of water. When she came back, the porter and the valise were gone. She was crushed and Hemingway ... well, you can imagine how he felt.

The upshot is that Hemingway eventually did return to those stories, most of which he rewrote in a form that was tighter than before. One of those lost stories was resurrected as "A Farewell to Arms."
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Posted: 19 October 2005 at 10:37am | IP Logged Quote LG

Fortunately, My Old Man had been sent to Lincoln Steffins  and was sasved.

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