Saturday, July 15, 2006

Hemingway Does Spain; Hemingway and the Circus

I've been reading various accounts of this summer's Hemingway Society conference in Spain, and I must say that I'm envious.

Sounds like a great gathering of first-class Hemingway scholars, good folks all, including several former colleagues in the USF English department who have received their PhDs in recent years -- Marc (now off to a teaching gig in chilly but affordable Wisconsin), Ray and Stone (the last two now have teaching posts at USF). Veteran USF English professor Phillip Sipiora also presented, as did retired USF English professor Lawrence Broer.

The camaraderie and sight seeing afforded by the conference reportedly were first rate. So maybe I'll make it to the next one, in Kansas City in '08.

Meanwhile, it's easy enough to stay connected with Hem aficionados, by way of a listserv affiliated with the Society. In recent weeks, I've been intrigued by a discussion related to Hem's interest in circus animals, alluded to in A.E. Hotchner's 1966 biography Papa Hemingway. It was a sensation at the time of publication -- Hotchner, a friend for the last 14 years of Hemingway's life, revealed that the writer's death was a suicide. But it's been unevenly received by scholars.

Ken Titt, a fellow member of the email discussion list, very graciously sent a copy of program notes that Hemingway penned for the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus magazine and program, distributed at performances in 1953.

Hem wrote: "The circus is the only ageless delight that you can buy for money. Everything else is supposed to be bad for you. But the Circus is good for you. It is the only spectacle I know that, while you watch it, gives the quality of a truly happy dream." I googled, and discovered that the magazine can be purchased online for under $100.

Hotchner is something of a stand-offish fellow, according to several participants in the Hemingway listserv. He comes off as the ultimate traveling companion, encouraging friend and drinking pal in Papa Hemingway (but then, I guess, he would). I'll have to reserve judgment if and until I meet the Nobel Prize-winning author.

By the way, an essay that I've written on the three film adaptations of Hemingway's short story "The Killers" will be published sometimes next year in the long-running academic journal Literature Film Quarterly. I presented a paper on that topic at the Hemingway conference in Key West in 20o4.

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