The Letters of Ernest Hemingway, Volume 1, 1907-1922

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With the first publication, in this edition, of all the surviving letters of Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961), readers will for the first time be able to follow the thoughts, ideas and actions of one of the great literary figures of the twentieth century in his own words. This first volume encompasses his youth, his experience in World War I and his arrival in Paris. The letters reveal a more complex person than Hemingway's tough guy public persona would suggest: devoted son, affectionate brother, infatuated lover, ...

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With the first publication, in this edition, of all the surviving letters of Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961), readers will for the first time be able to follow the thoughts, ideas and actions of one of the great literary figures of the twentieth century in his own words. This first volume encompasses his youth, his experience in World War I and his arrival in Paris. The letters reveal a more complex person than Hemingway's tough guy public persona would suggest: devoted son, affectionate brother, infatuated lover, adoring husband, spirited friend and disciplined writer. Unguarded and never intended for publication, the letters record experiences that inspired his art, afford insight into his creative process and express his candid assessments of his own work and that of his contemporaries. The letters present immediate accounts of events and relationships that profoundly shaped his life and work. A detailed introduction, notes, chronology, illustrations and index are included.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review.

The first of more than a dozen volumes bringing together the complete extant correspondence of this crucial modernist writer, this scrupulously edited and annotated book reveals a warm, amusing, and sensitive Hemingway. They begin with little Ernest around age 8, telling his father that he "saw a mother duck with seven little babies," and end with Hemingway at age 23, writing to such luminaries as Gertrude Stein, Sherwood Anderson, and Ezra Pound. Readers see his gradual emergence as a fiction writer, able to assert to his friend Ezra: "I know what I'm after in prose." Those familiar with the gruff, humorless, and word-chary sportsman of popular legend will be surprised to find a charming and compulsive correspondent whose garrulous voice works irresistible magic on the English language, with the young author revealing a keen eye for detail and a talent for reportage. Though clearly intended for an academic audience, the delight of these letters and the sheer quantity of useful editorial material-including excellent introductory essays, extensive notes for each letter, a chronology of Hemingway's life, maps of his journeys, and personal photographs-should entice even the most ardent Papa-reviler to delve into the spontaneous words of a creative genius.
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From the Publisher
"The collected Hemingway letters will be enthusiastically welcomed by the scholarly world as well as the legion of Hemingway enthusiasts around the world. He is not only one of the most important twentieth-century writers in the world, but a fascinating and frank letter writer. This collection will be an invaluable addition to the world of letters."
-Noel Riley Fitch

"And so begins the ambitious—and highly anticipated—publication of the Letters of Ernest Hemingway, a vast collection that proves to be both a revealing autobiography and the passkey to his literary works. This first volume is a vibrant portrait of the artist as a young man, striking all the notes that will resonate as themes in the epic life and epochal literature that lie ahead."
-A. Scott Berg

"This Cambridge edition of all of Hemingway's known letters is as elegant and proper a solution as one could wish to such a daunting challenge: how to make this treasure available to all interested scholars and readers for generations to come. I think that Papa Hemingway would be pleased. His favorite dictum seems most fitting on this splendid occasion: 'Il faut, d'abord, durer.' [First of all, one must endure; or as my Dad translated it with supreme economy: 'First: last'] Along with his books, Hemingway's most personal thoughts and expressions will now endure beyond his wildest dreams."
-Charles Scribner III

Library Journal
This first of an eventual 12 volumes in Cambridge's ambitious program to publish all of Hemingway's roughly 6000 letters covers his childhood through his early apprenticeship in expatriate Paris. These juvenile missives are lighthearted and rife with slang and fabricated words, and Hemingway employs multiple silly nicknames for everyone, including himself. Ernest seems a very loving son and brother and a good pal. Though most of these juvenile missives (or screeds) are fairly routine, they reveal his developing voice—e.g., notes to his siblings and friends use vastly different language and tone from those to his parents. Readers can occasionally spy his BS machine forming—at 19 he's already embellishing stories about himself (e.g., he claims he carried "a Colt gat" as a cub reporter and beat a champion boxer). Each letter is well footnoted, and Spanier (English, Pennsylvania State Univ.) and Trogdon (English, Kent State Univ.) include numerous scholarly extras. VERDICT As close to a full-length Hemingway autobiography as possible, these letters provide a unique opportunity for framing him in everyday perspective and, frankly, humanizing him. Academics and aficionados will want this initial volume, but the best is yet to come.—Mike Rogers, Library Journal
Arthur Phillips
The existence of some of these documents (predating Hemingway's fame) is close to a miracle, and The Letters is without question a spectacular scholarly achievement. Letters about boyhood fishing trips in Michigan that resemble his early Nick Adams stories; notes passed in class; brave and boastful letters home from the hospital in Italy after his wounding in World War I with descriptions of artillery that prefigure A Farewell to Arms; courtship letters to his first wife; gossipy letters from Paris describing the literary world he was discovering: these are extraordinary.
—The New York Times Book Review
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Sandra Spanier is Professor of English at Pennsylvania State University and General Editor of the Hemingway Letters Project.

Robert W. Trogdon is Professor of English at Kent State University.


Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961), born in Oak Park, Illinois, started his career as a writer in a newspaper office in Kansas City at the age of seventeen. Before the United States entered the First World War, he joined a volunteer ambulance unit in the Italian army. Serving at the front, he was wounded, was decorated by the Italian Government, and spent considerable time in hospitals. After his return to the United States, he became a reporter for Canadian and American newspapers and was soon sent back to Europe to cover such events as the Greek Revolution.

During the twenties, Hemingway became a member of the group of expatriate Americans in Paris, which he described in his first important work, The Sun Also Rises (1926). Equally successful was A Farewell to Arms (1929), the study of an American ambulance officer's disillusionment in the war and his role as a deserter. Hemingway used his experiences as a reporter during the civil war in Spain as the background for his most ambitious novel, For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940). Among his later works, the most outstanding is the short novel, The Old Man and the Sea (1952), the story of an old fisherman's journey, his long and lonely struggle with a fish and the sea, and his victory in defeat.

Hemingway -- himself a great sportsman -- liked to portray soldiers, hunters, bullfighters - tough, at times primitive people whose courage and honesty are set against the brutal ways of modern society, and who in this confrontation lose hope and faith. His straightforward prose, his spare dialogue, and his predilection for understatement are particularly effective in his short stories, some of which are collected in Men Without Women (1927) and The Fifth Column and the First Forty-Nine Stories (1938). Hemingway died in Idaho in 1961.

© The Nobel Foundation 1954.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Ernest Miller Hemingway (full name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      July 21, 1899
    2. Place of Birth:
      Oak Park, Illinois
    1. Date of Death:
      July 2, 1961
    2. Place of Death:
      Ketchum, Idaho

Table of Contents

1. General Editor's introduction Sandra Spanier; 2. Foreword Linda Patterson Miller; 3. Introduction Robert W. Trogdon; 4. Note on the text; 5. Acknowledgments; 6. Abbreviations and cue-titles; 7. Chronology; 8. The letters, 1907-1922; 9. Roster of correspondents; 10. Calendar of letters; Index.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 20, 2011


    This is a great book and gives a picture of the man behind the legend. I recommend this book to all Hemingway fans!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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