The 1950s were years of triumph and decline for Hemingway, His next-to-last book, ACROSS THE RIVER AND INTO THE TREES, was a critical failure. Hardly had the literary obituaries dried when THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA reignited his fame and moved the Nobel Prize judges to award him “that Swedish thing.”After a plane crash in Africa, a good part of the world thought him dead, only to learn a few hours later that he was busted in several places but very much alive. But the body was failing and the corners in the back of Hemingway’s mind were darkening in the period covered in this final of two ATLANTIC excerpts from ERNEST HEMINGWAY: A LIFE STORYby Carlos Baker, to be published in April by Scribner’s.
He was thirty-seven when this chapter of his life begins, already established as one of the greatest American writers, and living as if to prove Alfred Kazin’s characterization of him as “the bronze god of the whole contemporary literary experience in America.” THE SUN ALSO RISES, A FAREWELL TO ARMS, and Some of the finest short English prose ever written were behind him. So was one marriage, that to Hadley Richardson, and his second, to Pauline Pfeiffer, was moving toward the rocks. He had three young sons, John (of his first marriage), Patrick and Gregory (of the second). This installment, and a second to follow in the February ATLANTIC, are drawn from ERNEST HEMINGWAY: A LIFE STORY by Carlos Baker of Princeton. The authorized biography will be published in April by Scribner’s, publishers of almost all of Hemingway’s seven novels, dozens of short stories, and one play.