Ernest Hemingway to F. Scott Fitzgerald: “Kiss My Ass”


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.

via @matthiasrascher

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Sev­en Tips From Ernest Hem­ing­way on How to Write Fic­tion

F. Scott Fitzger­ald in Drag (1916)

James Joyce in Paris: “Deal With Him, Hem­ing­way!”

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Wash­ing­ton, DC. Fol­low  him @jdmagness

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Comments (12)
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  • James King says:

    Then of course there’s the time Hem­ing­way got his own pugna­cious ass hand­ed to him by a lit­tle Cana­di­an writer of some minor mer­it called Mor­ley Callaghan.

    You can read about it here:

    Callaghan went on to out­live both Fitzger­ald and Hem­ing­way, he died in Toron­to in, I think, 1990…

  • Ed Desautels says:

    I like the Bur­roughs quote about Hem­ing­way, some­thing along the lines of, “Regret­tably, Hem­ing­way chose to live out the least inter­est­ing aspects of his fic­tion.”

  • Rc says:

    Like land­ing on D‑Day?

  • Luke says:

    Ed Desau­tels and Bur­roughs, kiss my ass!

  • Sowhut says:

    One thing is sure, he nev­er start­ed a sen­tence with the word “so.” A true genius.

  • Michael Morse says:

    Hem­ing­way’s pugilis­tics are about as inter­est­ing as Jack Dempsey’s fic­tion..

  • disqus_KxAHnCo4Tu says:

    Hem­ing­way was a fine writer if not a gen­tle­man. F Scott Fitzger­ald was a snib­ling whin­er, a wastrel and a deca­dent. My worst Eng­lish class in col­lege was the semes­ter we had to study “Great Gatsby”…paragraph by paragraph.…it was a “Great Waste” of my col­lege life.…

  • Simon Evans says:

    - there’s noth­ing wrong with a lit­tle (or a lot) of deca­dence, you know. As for all this ‘Thomas the tank engine’ pugilism — only proves that they believe actions speak loud­er than words, maybe they do to imbe­ciles — Proust said men judge each oth­er by their actions (and pre­sum­ably not by their words) but it is all a mat­ter of vol­ume — you know ? Quan­ti­ty, not qual­i­ty.

  • Bob mcguckin says:

    Hem had nat­ur­al box­ing abil­i­ties! He had celebri­ty too, rather a young fel­low with “The Sun Also Ris­es”. And it is known he liked to spar with the Pro’s. He would­n’t have found trou­ble find­ing such spar­ring part­ners, either. And, accord­ing to some pro­fes­sion­al esti­ma­tions he was bear­ish and plod­ding but with an effec­tive right, as good a punch as could be found! He fought every­body! Would fight the tough­est look­ing guy at a dock­side dive! While this might be true (Dempsey’s esti­ma­tion of the man), Hem was a real tough guy, a “gen­uine”!

  • jyoti says:

    this is a nice nov­el and i also read it and its hav­ing a nice sto­ry


  • jyoti says:

    this sto­ry is awe­some and i loved it


  • Charlie Steel says:

    I spent 20 years study­ing Hem­ing­way and every­thing he wrote. I even went so far as to go to Berlin and the Amer­i­can Library to study every word. There I held in my hand a rare edi­tion of RARE EARTH—the man­u­script for a film he made for the Span­ish CIVIL WAR on the side of the Repub­li­cans and against Fas­cist Fran­co.

    Hem­ing­way drank and smoked far too much and it addled his mind. He also encured many con­cus­sions and he might have suf­fered lat­er in life from brain dam­age and cer­tain­ly depres­sion. These vices and acci­dents hurt him and he lit­er­al­ly lost his mind and died of sui­cide in a very grim way—using a shot­gun.

    Hem­ing­way is not one to emu­late by any young per­son regard­ing his pri­vate life. He was aggres­sive and in the end, ALL THE FAMOUS PEOPLE HE KNEW HE ALIENATED, ARGUED WITH, AND PUSHED AWAY.

    He also was incred­i­bly famous at a young age for his com­ing back first from World War I, the wound­ed Ital­ian lieu­tenant ambu­lance dri­ver. Then the rest of his life was one famous episode after anoth­er: One of the expa­tri­ates in Paris, the bull fight­ing thing, the African thing, the Span­ish Civ­il War thing, first to Chi­na, over­seas cor­re­spon­dent, and war cor­re­spon­dent who was first into Paris before de Gaul, lead­ing a group of French Pati­sans. (He car­ried a weapon and it almost got him in jail.) Oh, and there was the Pilar thing where the gov­ern­ment equipped his fish­ing boat, the Pilar with anti-sub­ma­rine devices. A LOT OF FIRSTS FOR ONE MAN—MAKING HIM EVEN MORE FAMOUS.

    This is not to exclude his fan­tas­tic writ­ing. He was and is a great author. After 20 years of study, my advice—separate the man and his writ­ing.

    Char­lie Steel, Author

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