“There is nothing to writing;” Ernest Hemingway once explained, “all you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” Hemingway’s legacy is intimately tied to the distinct writing style he pioneered—his concise sentences convey as much in what they say as what they omit. Having won the Pulitzer Prize in 1952 for The Old Man and the Sea and the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954, Hemingway’s passion and remarkable talent has established him as one of the twentieth century’s true literary masters.
This month, the Morgan Library and Museum, in partnership with the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, unveils an exhibit dedicated to Hemingway’s extraordinary life. Ernest Hemingway: Between Two Wars presents the writer’s typescripts, manuscript drafts, photographs, letters and correspondence between friends and editors from the interwar period. These relics illustrate the impact two significant life events—Hemingway’s leg-injury in the First World War and his time spent in Paris in the twenties with F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, Sylvia Beach, and other expatriates—had on his writing. Most of all, the exhibit allows a glimpse at the human being behind the shroud of literary celebrity; it exposes Hemingway’s triumphs, struggles, and fears, and how they contributed to his crafting of The Sun Also Rises, A Moveable Feast, A Farewell to Arms, and For Whom the Bell Tolls, among his other titles. “The Nobel Prize Laureate is often portrayed as a larger-than-life figure,” says Tom Putnam, director of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library. “The materials on display—most for the very first time—will serve to humanize the man and edify his creative talent.” Honest and revealing, the exhibit is true to the spirit of Hemingway himself.