Unbelievable Happiness and Final Sorrow: The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Marriage

Unbelievable Happiness and Final Sorrow: The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Marriage

by Ruth A. Hawkins
     
 

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It was the glittering intellectual world of 1920s Paris expatriates in which Pauline Pfeiffer, a writer for Vogue, met Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley among a circle of friends that included Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Dos Passos, and Dorothy Parker. Pauline grew close to Hadley but eventually forged a stronger bond with Hemingway himself; with her

Overview

It was the glittering intellectual world of 1920s Paris expatriates in which Pauline Pfeiffer, a writer for Vogue, met Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley among a circle of friends that included Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Dos Passos, and Dorothy Parker. Pauline grew close to Hadley but eventually forged a stronger bond with Hemingway himself; with her stylish looks and dedication to Hemingway's writing, Pauline became the source of "unbelievable happiness" for Hemingway and, by 1927, his second wife. Pauline was her husband's best editor and critic, and her wealthy family provided moral and financial support, including the conversion of an old barn to a dedicated writing studio at the family home in Piggott, Arkansas. The marriage lasted thirteen years, some of Hemingway's most productive, and the couple had two children. But the "unbelievable happiness" met with "final sorrow," as Hemingway wrote, and Pauline would be the second of Hemingway's four wives. Unbelievable Happiness and Final Sorrow paints a full picture of Pauline and the role she played in Ernest Hemingway's becoming one of our greatest literary figures.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
If behind every great man there is a great woman, even the ultra-original Hemingway had several—including four wives. The one perhaps least known, wife #2, with the flapper’s body and uncomfortably short hair, is Pauline Pfeiffer. This up-close-and-personal biography (with its awkward title) comes in a line of other biographies, by women, about the women who had unflagging and largely unacknowledged influence on their author-husbands. Research and writing took more than a decade, including reading through unpublished work, no easy task given document-devouring conflagrations and the general reticence of the wealthy Pfeiffer family. The central insights are two: there was the unflagging material support of Pauline’s family during the lean years, especially from an uncle who, in his boundless admiration for his nephew-by-marriage, purchased the famous Key West home; and there was Pauline’s selfless, largely unknown editorial guidance, particularly on The Sun Also Rises. “The other woman” in Hemingway’s first marriage, Pauline suffered the identical indignity a little more than a decade later, when Hemingway had moved on, no longer in need of Pfeiffer money. Though overlong, this is a significant contribution to setting the record straight. Photos. (June)
From the Publisher
"A major scholarly accomplishment — authoritative, thoroughly researched, pioneering, and ably written…. a must for Hemingway scholars, teachers, and aficionados." —Anne Marie Candido in Arkansas Historical Quarterly

"Anyone interested in Hemingway's life between 1927 and 1940 should consult this book." —The Hemingway Review, Fall 2012

"[A] significant contribution to setting the record straight" —Publishers Weekly, April 2012

"Because Pauline was a private person and the only one of Hemingway's four wives to precede him in death, Ernest's self-serving account of their relationship and of the Pfeiffer family's influence on him has unfortunately been the primary source for Hemingway scholars. Hawkins's book is a welcome corrective." —Norman E. Stafford in Arkansas Review, 2012

"A riveting portrait of a marriage, and a fascinating biography of Pauline Pfeiffer, the most intriguing—and most misunderstood—of the Hemingway wives. This compelling story about the Hemingway/Pfeiffer relationship significantly enriches our understanding of this complicated man, and, along the way, introduces us to a new heroine in the Hemingway saga." —Mary Dearborn, author of Mailer: A Biography

Kirkus Reviews
A mostly engaging examination of a marriage and its effect on American literature. In addition to the detailed story of Ernest Hemingway's second marriage, to Pauline Pfeiffer, Arkansas State University administrator Hawkins covers the novelist's other marriages, the tense relationship Pfeiffer and Hemingway navigated after their divorce, their deaths and more. Pfeiffer met Hemingway in Paris. Though the relationship had a rocky start, the two fell in love, resulting in the end of Hemingway's first marriage. The next 13 years were filled with travel, children and Hemingway's rising career, all considerably bolstered by Pfeiffer family money. Hawkins pays special attention to this financial aspect of the story, arguing that money was at the very least an important factor, and probably the main one, in Hemingway's decision to marry Pfeiffer. Regardless, the book shows Pfeiffer as a woman in love and content with her marriage and life until her husband moved on to be with someone else. Most of the narrative is absorbing, but Hawkins occasionally becomes bogged down in the details. Genealogies of both the Pfeiffer and Hemingway clans slow the pace, as do occasional off-topic anecdotes that may intrigue Hemingway enthusiasts but distract from the subject at hand. Though she paints Hemingway in a somewhat unflattering light, Hawkins doesn't ignore his better qualities and includes episodes showing his soft, generous side when dealing with family and those close friends with whom he maintained lasting relationships. Will appeal to Hemingway enthusiasts and readers of literary biography.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781610754934
Publisher:
University of Arkansas Press
Publication date:
05/01/2012
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
391
Sales rank:
459,034
File size:
4 MB

Meet the Author

Ruth A. Hawkins has been an administrator at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro for more than thirty years and established its Arkansas Heritage Sites program, which includes the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum in Piggott. She has been recognized at the state, regional, and national level for her work in historic preservation and heritage tourism.

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