April 28, 2014

The Letters of Ernest Hemingway: Volume 2, 1923-1925
Edited by Sandra Spainer, Albert J. DeFazio III & Robert W. Trogdon


Keep, Don’t Keep – Only two years of correspondence. Roughly 460 pages of published reading. This exhaustive documentation of the young Hemingway coming to life, as a man and as an artist in Paris, is an important contribution to literature (and perhaps shows just how hungry the marketplace remains for all things Papa). But reading this encyclopedic volume of correspondence also gives you a far deeper appreciation for the hard work previous editors have done in editing (and narrowing down) the correspondence of Hemingway and other writers over the past several decades. Of course, the purpose in this book is not to leave anything out – and it’s not until you begin to fully experience the scholastic heft of this task that you begin to fully appreciate the surgical (and, sometimes, brutal) choices other editors have made in culling through thousands of letters. Here’s the irony: During these very early years in the 1920s, Hemingway was writing “Out of Season” and the other stories of “In Our Time” in which he honed the practice that would become the hallmark of his highly influential style: knowing what to leave out to make the story stronger.

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