978-0-393-31835-7 / 9780393318357

The Hemingway Women


Publisher:W. W. Norton & Company



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About the book:

On the overloaded shelf of Hemingway biographies, this perceptive group portrait claims a unique spot. Focusing on his wives, lovers, and female friends, Bernice Kert highlights aspects of the writer's personality that are often shrouded by his hypermasculine public image. Women were certainly attracted by Hemingway's swaggering charm and boundless vitality, but they also discerned an underlying strain of sensitivity and vulnerability he concealed from the world. Although a friend once remarked that Hemingway was the only man he knew who really hated his mother, Kert's stereotype-shattering depiction of their combative relationship limns Grace Hall Hemingway in more nuanced terms than her son ever did and reminds readers that much of Hemingway's creativity and competitiveness came from her. The wives emerge as people in their own right, though journalist Martha Gelhorn was the only one to find her career more interesting than being Mrs. Hemingway. Kert's portraits of the unwitting models for the author's heroines reveal significant differences between the actual Agnes von Kurowsky and the fictional Catherine Barkley in A Farewell to Arms, between Duff Twysden and Brett Ashley in The Sun Also Rises. Hemingway tended to write about the ideal female; Kert restores the real women who shaped his life and art. --Wendy Smith

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