THE PROPERTY OF A GENTLEMAN
HEMINGWAY, Ernest. Autograph letter signed ("Ernest Hemingway"), to Edward K. Thompson, Finca Vigia, San Francisco de Paula, Cuba, 2 June 1960. 3 full pages, 4to, Finca Vigia stationery, WITH AUTOGRAPH ENVELOPE SIGNED in block letters on verso ("Ernest Hemingway").
"I NEED TO GET TO WORK ON THE SCRIBNER PARIS BOOK...IF ANYTHING SHOULD HAPPEN TO ME AS THINGS SOMETIMES DO"
An important, lengthy literary letter to his Life magazine editor, detailing his work on the long bull fighting article that ultimately became The Dangerous Summer and mentioning his early work on A Moveable Feast. "Finally finished 108,746 words of first draft on May 28th. It is being typed and will start correction, cutting and any necessary re-write. Will have to go to Spain to get what I need for the end and to check certain things that nobody will write or tell me on the telephone... When I have the present mss. in shape you (we) can decide how long the Antonio--Luis-Miguel piece originally contracted for should run now...Bill Lang said you would like to see all of it... I am giving more than I contracted to deliver. This must be worked out... This is not meant to sound stuffy..."
He goes on to mention his next project--one that would only be published after his suicide--his memoir of Paris in the 1920s, A Moveable Feast. "Have to do income tax now then get the bull mss. in shape. Then must get what I need for the end and then get to work on the Scribner Paris book for 61. The present end on the bull piece is OK if anything should happen to me as things sometimes do..." That last comment is particularly revealing. Hemingway was on the verge of the mental collapse that would put him into the Mayo Clinic (for the first time) in December 1960. His difficulties with this piece--about the bloody series of mano a mano contests in 1959 between Spain's two top bull fighters, Antonio Ordóñez and Luis Miguel Dominguín--were a crucial triggering event in his decline. The work revealed a marked deterioration in his literary skills. Life chopped the sprawling manuscript down to 30,000 words and printed it in three installments in September 1960. Not even Hemingway liked it. He told his wife Mary he was "ashamed and sick to have done such a job."
It was the last piece published in his lifetime. When The Dangerous Summer appeared in book form in 1985, James Michener wrote in his Introduction, "This is a book about death written by a lusty sixty-year-old man who had reason to fear that his own death was imminent." Not in Baker Selected Letters.