Monday, July 20, 2009

A Moveable Book?

On the Op-Ed page of this morning's New York Times, A. E. Hotchner has much to say about a forthcoming edition of Ernest Hemingway's A Movable Feast:

BOOKSTORES are getting shipments of a significantly changed edition of Ernest Hemingway’s masterpiece, “A Moveable Feast,” first published posthumously by Scribner in 1964. This new edition, also published by Scribner, has been extensively reworked by a grandson who doesn’t like what the original said about his grandmother, Hemingway’s second wife.

The grandson has removed several sections of the book’s final chapter and replaced them with other writing of Hemingway’s that the grandson feels paints his grandma in a more sympathetic light. Ten other chapters that roused the grandson’s displeasure have been relegated to an appendix, thereby, according to the grandson, creating “a truer representation of the book my grandfather intended to publish.”

It is his claim that Mary Hemingway, Ernest’s fourth wife, cobbled the manuscript together from shards of an unfinished work and that she created the final chapter, “There Is Never Any End to Paris.”

Scribner’s involvement with this bowdlerized version should be examined as it relates to the book’s actual genesis, and to the ethics of publishing.


NOTE: The above copy of A Moveable Feast is the 1996 paperback version, not the "restored" edition forthcoming from Scribner.


Blogger Collin Kelley said...

I think I'll take a pass on this. When Margaret Mitchell died, she specified in her will that every piece of writing she'd completed since Gone With the Wind be burned. Her husband took it the incinerator of their home and did just that. Now I understand why.

10:46 PM  
Blogger Keith Wilson said...

I don't know what right someone so far removed from the author has to affect his work to this degree? He is related, yes, but could I possibly claim to know the workings of my grandfather's mind?

I think instead of having all my poetry burned when I die, I'll just write a clause in my will that says my ungrateful grandchildren are disallowed from screwing with any of my words. haha

3:15 AM  

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