Dear Papa, Dear Hotch: The Correspondence of Ernest Hemingway & A.E. Hotchner
About this book
Dear Papa, Dear Hotch presents for the first time the collected correspondence between literary giant Ernest Hemingway and his young friend and informal agent A. E. Hotchner. Hotchner, author of the well-known memoir Papa Hemingway, served as the authorized adapter of Hemingway’s stories for the stage, movies, and television. Spanning the final quarter of Hemingway’s life from 1948 to 1961, the book includes more than 160 letters, cables, and cards between these two close friends. The correspondence begins following their initial meeting in Cuba and ends after their final encounter at the Mayo Clinic, where Hemingway was a patient. In the years between, they hunt game in Idaho and visit Hemingway’s old haunts on an automobile trip through Italy and France. In Spain, Hotchner attends his first bullfight and, with Hemingway as his manager, enters the ring himself as a matador under the sobriquet El Pecas (The Freckled One). Revealing Hemingway’s preoccupation with his physical condition, the collection closes with sobering glimpses into the psychological turmoil that eventually led to his suicide in 1961. DeFazio presents the letters in a chronological “clear-text” format, in which only the author’s final intention is transcribed within the body of the edition. All cancellations, alterations, and corrections are listed at the back of the book in a textual commentary that will enable readers to reconstruct most of the features of the original manuscripts and envelopes. DeFazio also includes annotations following each letter. This exciting collection of letters between two extremely lively and interesting characters will provide much valuable information about Hemingway’s late career.
Hard to say exactly what I was expecting from this book but it was, in a word, more. I ended up skimming Hemingway's letters only. Surprisingly, very little of this correspondence struck me as remotely interesting. Sixty-year-old literary gossip, and Hemingway’s obsessions with health, money, fishing, and bullfighting don’t actually add up to much. Above all, one is convinced Hemingway had a very good reason for wanting his correspondence destroyed. Meanwhile, the posthumous, barely-hinted-at feud between Hotchner and Mary Hemingway over the publication of these documents is likely a much more interesting story than the letters themselves manage to tell.