By Tim CornwellThe Scotsman
31 January 2009IT WAS a second home for one of the greats of 20th-century literature but, due to its frosty diplomatic relations with the United States, Ernest Hemingway's time in Cuba has remained something of a mystery
But now, in a rare break in the long-standing international feud, copies of a mostly unseen archive of Hemingway's years in Cuba, including thousands of letters, notes and other documents, have been sent to the US.
The documents, which have been delivered to the John F Kennedy Library in Massachusetts, include a tantalising, abandoned epilogue to For Whom the Bell Tolls
, revealing whether Robert Jordan's warning message to a Spanish general ever got through.Ernest Hemingway (Photo)
There are several pages discarded from the final manuscript, and a letter Hemingway wrote to the Casablanca actress Ingrid Bergman, telling her how he hoped she would get the part of Maria (she did).
The papers provide extraordinary insight into Hemingway's years in Cuba. They run from notes to his Spanish cook and instructions on how he liked his carrots boiled to intimate letters to his fourth wife, Mary.
The papers were long hidden away in the basement of Hemingway's estate at Finca Vigia, Cuba.
"It's a wonderful treasure trove and it's wonderful it will be available," said Professor Sandra Spanier, editor of the Hemingway Letters Project at Pennsylvania State University. "There has never really been a biographer who had access to the materials of Hemingway's life in Cuba.
"That was a third of his life, a half of his writing life, and this is tremendously important."
The materials include corrected proofs of The Old Man and the Sea
, a film script based on the novel and correspondence from fellow authors Sinclair Lewis and John Dos Passos.
"There are letters among these documents that have been in Cuba since 1961," Prof Spanier added. "It is tremendously intriguing and exciting. This will enable us to fill in the picture of his correspondence."Hemingway's Cuban estate, Finca Vigia
The Kennedy library deal was agreed between the Cuban government and US Congressman James McGovern, who is respected in the island for his prolonged campaign to lift American sanctions and ease relations.
The papers will begin to be available to researchers in the spring.
"It's a turning point toward a more rational, mature relationship between our two countries," Mr McGovern said. "I think Hemingway can be the bridge to help move both sides to a point where we can have a good, solid relationship."
The papers include a letter to Hemingway's third wife, the legendary war correspondent Martha Gellhorn, which he wrote and never sent.
There are pieces of letters that he cut out with scissors and curiosities such as a letter he wrote in Spanish to the family cook, ostensibly from fourth wife Mary – who spoke no Spanish – saying: "If you have any questions, ask me and don't bother my husband."
Others specify what salads would be served on which day of the week to the Nobel Prize winner. There are also love letters written to Mary, also a reporter, in 1944, while Hemingway was still married to Gellhorn.
However, the archive also features documents which make it clear Hemingway's Cuba was not all mojitos and marlin fishing.
"A letter to Mary in 1953 outlines all the troubles of their marriage, lamenting how she has become so scalding," said Prof Spanier. "It is a document of a marriage in disintegration.
"He wrote on it, 'Please read this and return to me'. There are these very intimate glimpses."
The JFK Library already has an extensive collection of Hemingway material – 100,000 pages of writings and 10,000 photographs, paintings and personal objects such as his passports, flasks and wallet – thanks to a connection between the writer's wife Mary and the Kennedys.Where more than the writer's soul was left behind
ERNEST Hemingway lived in Cuba for 21 years, half his writing life, at the famous Finca Vigia outside Havana from 1939 until 1960, where For Whom The Bell Tolls was partly written.
He left the island in the summer of 1960 to follow bull-fights in Spain. When his health failed, he moved to the US for treatment at the Mayo Clinic.
After the Bay of Pigs incident, in which the CIA tried to launch a counter-revolution in Cuba, it became clear Hemingway could not return.
In July 1961, he shot himself at his home in Ketchum, Idaho.
Mary Hemingway, his fourth wife and widow, then returned to the island. She was allowed to collect much of his archive, putting 200lb of papers on board a shrimp boat bound for Tampa, Florida. They included the posthumously published manuscript of A Moveable Feast
From the mid-1990s, American scholars became concerned over what remained in Cuba, and the effect the humid climate could have on it, without knowing exactly what remained there.
The turning point came in 2001 when Jenny Phillips, granddaughter of Max Perkins, Hemingway's editor, visited the Finca. She learned there were letters in the basement from her grandfather, and negotiations to conserve and copy them began.