The Oak Park Teetotaler

“More than a decade in preparation, the American National Biography is the first biographical resource of this scope to be published in more than sixty years.”

Welcome to our little quiz: guess who. Yesterday I gave you this clue: This celebrated American writer and adventurer spent a sheltered childhood in a well-to-do village with an evening curfew of 8pm (summers 9pm). By his twenties he was travelling all over Europe and writing short newspaper pieces with names like “American Bohemians in Paris a Weird Lot” and “Try Bob-Sledding If You Want Thrills.”

I don’t suppose you guessed it was old Papa Hemingway. Little Ernie was raised in fair Oak Park, Illinois, a superb village with an alcohol prohibition to complement the curfew. Growing up there, it’s no wonder Hemingway’s zealous teetotalism would shame a Quaker. Soon as he could, the young adventurer enlisted and wounded himself ambulating over Italian battlefields, which put corners on his jaw and hair on his chest. He soon found himself in Paris, where he fell in with the likes of Gertrude Stein, Joyce, and Pound, Picasso, Miró, and Gris. A man’s man if ever there was one.

The Letters of Ernest Hemingway, volume 1: 1907-1922 (Cambridge UP, 2011), edited by Sandra Spanier and Robert W. Trogdon
With the first publication, in this edition, of all the surviving letters of Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961), readers will for the first time be able to follow the thoughts, ideas and actions of one of the great literary figures of the twentieth century in his own words. This first volume encompasses his youth, his experience in World War I and his arrival in Paris. The letters reveal a more complex person than Hemingway’s tough guy public persona would suggest. A detailed introduction, notes, chronology, illustrations and index are included.

The Breaking Point: Hemingway, Dos Passos and the murder of Jose Robles (Counterpoint, 2005), by Stephen Koch
The thrilling story of friends Ernest Hemingway and John Dos Passos in the Spanish Civil War. In The Breaking Point, Stephen Koch reveals that both Hemingway and Dos were in Spain as part of a group sponsored by Stalin’s propaganda ministry. Shortly after their arrival, Dos’s close friend Jose Robles Pazo was killed as a purported fascist spy. Dos could never accept Robles’s guilt, putting him at odds with Hemingway and placing his politics (and literary reputation) into question.

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