Hemingway Approves of the Study of the Original Manuscripts of His Two Great Works, “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and “A Farewell to Arms”

He is not jealous but open with them, encouraging scholarship focused on his manuscripts

Purchase $11,000

A rare letter referencing both these monumental books, which are so tied to his legacy

“A Farewell to Arms” and “For Whom the Bell Tolls”, two of the great works of 20th century literary giant Ernest Hemingway, are classics in American literature. The first, published in 1929, is a semi-autobiographical work centered...

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Hemingway Approves of the Study of the Original Manuscripts of His Two Great Works, “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and “A Farewell to Arms”

He is not jealous but open with them, encouraging scholarship focused on his manuscripts

A rare letter referencing both these monumental books, which are so tied to his legacy

“A Farewell to Arms” and “For Whom the Bell Tolls”, two of the great works of 20th century literary giant Ernest Hemingway, are classics in American literature. The first, published in 1929, is a semi-autobiographical work centered on a lieutenant in the Italian army. This mirrors Hemingway’s own experience as an ambulance driver in World War I. “A Farewell to Arms” cemented the writer’s place in the American literary scene. The second, “For Whom the Bell Tolls”, published in 1940 after Hemingway had witnessed firsthand the violent developments in Europe, tells the story of a younger American attached to a guerrilla unit during the Spanish Civil War.

Novelist Glendon Swarthout had a huge literary range, more than most American authors of his generation, writing 16 novels, which ranged from dramas to comedies to romances and mysteries, and another 6 novellas. Many of Glendon’s novels became international bestsellers. In 1950, he was working at the University of Maryland, early in his career, and studying toward his doctorate. Hemingway was among the principle great writers that Swarthout studied. It was in this capacity that he wrote Hemingway, asking for copies of the manuscript portions of these works to apply to his studies, likely to see the writer’s work in progress.

In 1926, Hemingway had married Pauline Pfeiffer, niece of Gus Pfeiffer, in Paris. Uncle Gus developed a close relationship with Hemingway (they traveled together in Europe and Hemingway’s car was a gift from him), a relationship that evidently postdated his relationship with Pauline, from whom he divorced in 1940. Pfeiffer held an interest in the Pharmaceutical Company, Richard Hudnut Co. He was holding the original drafts in 1950 and would die just 3 years later in 1953.

In 1950 Hemingway lived in Cuba with his then-wife Mary. He was on the cusp of writing the “Old Man and the Sea” when he received Swarthout’s letter. Typed Letter Signed, on his Finca Vigi, San Francisco de Paula, Cuba letterhead, December 4, 1950, to Glendon Swarthout, University of Maryland. Hemingway approved wholeheartedly in Swartout’s proposal. “Dear Mr. Swarthout, Thank you very much for your letter which I am ashamed to have delayed in answering. I think your idea is an excellent one. Mr. G.A. Pfeiffer of the Richard Hudnut Co., 113 West 18th Street, New York City, NY has the original drafts of A Farewell to Arms and For Whom the Bell Tolls. I am sure he would consent to having you photostat any pages that you wish. Would suggest that you take an entire incident or the beginning chapter from each manuscript. I have the manuscript of the last book here and could get any pages photostatted from it that you wanted. With all the best wishes, Yours very truly, Ernest Hemingway.”

This is our first Hemingway letter referencing these great works, and it is rendered all the more important for the insight that Hemingway was not jealous of his manuscripts, and encouraged scholarship focused on them.

Purchase Now $11,000

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