So everyone knows Hemingway was a bruiser. Some of the best stories of his macho posturing involve fellow writers. There was, of course, that time he and Wallace Stevens slugged it out in Key West. I’ve been told Stevens asked for it, drunkenly telling Hemingway’s sister Ursula that her brother wrote like a little boy. I don’t know whose version of the story this comes from, but by all accounts, Hemingway knocked the bear of a poet down several times. The two made up soon after. Then there’s the story of Hemingway and James Joyce; the diminutive Irish writer apparently hid behind his pugnacious friend when trouble loomed.
There are many other such yarns, I’m sure, but one I’ve just learned of shows us a much more passive-aggressive side of Papa H. As the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library blog informs us, Hemingway once sent F. Scott Fitzgerald a typescript of A Farewell to Arms. Fitzgerald sent back ten pages of edits and comments, signing off with “A beautiful book it is!” You can see Hemingway’s first reaction above (signed EH). In later drafts, it seems, he took some of Fitzgerald’s advice to heart.
Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Washington, DC. Follow him @jdmagness