THOSE that were in American author Ernest Hemingway’s inner circle simply called him ‘Papa’.
He was their guide and mentor to life. If you were any body that wanted to be a somebody, you carried well thumbed paperback editions of his works in your back pocket and proudly quoted a few rough passages to the none believers.
It connoted you were a copy of his rough image and all were to behold you equally. Ingrid Bergman summarized him in a thumbnail sketch: “More than a man, Hemingway was a life style”.
And so he was to masses of young and yearning for His way of being, the bullfights, the safaris, the wars and violence he lived though, the deep sea fishing, raucous and bawdy nights drinking with the movie stars and sportsman.
He was the complete man, not needing America nor anyone else. He did it his way—all the time. He was already a living icon when he won the Nobel Prize for Literature, in 1954, but he didn’t seem to care.
If you haven’t read Papa’s short stories you have missed some of the finest prose in the English language.
He made Madrid the Capital of the World, and then did the same thing for a tiny provincial town’s ancient festivities in the north of Spain called Pamplona. Where ever He drank the bar became famous. If He ate there special tables still mark his passing. Meet someone that actually spoke to Him and you become breathless listening to their tale. Plenty of damn good biographical best sellers have been notched up claiming the insider’s guide to “what Papa was really like”. The best of many is Jose Luis Castillo-Puche’s Hemingway in Spain.
When I first arrived to Spain in the late 60’s the place was full of ‘bull bums’ that knew everything about Papa, absolutely everything.
And, the first thing you learned was the many errors he made about bullfighting. It is still a popular bar room criticism. Got nothing else to do? Slag off Hem for a while.
But He led the way. Told you and showed you that you could go anywhere, do anything and make a proper adventure out of it, with abottle of rum in hand and a not give a damn attitude you ruled the world. Just like Papa.
He died the same way his father did and the injun that couldn’t stand his wife’s screams while she was giving birth. Papa committed suicide in the summer of 1961.
But obviously, Papa never passed. It is well time to read his books again.
By Ric Polansky