HEMINGWAY, Ernest. Death in the Afternoon. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1932.
8o. Original black cloth (some wear with tear at head of spine; hinges tender, some pale spotting to preliminaries); dust jacket (small closed tear at foot of spine panel, otherwise very fine; jacket supplied from another copy). Provenance: Pauline Pfeiffer Hemingway (1895-1951), Hemingway's second wife (presentation inscription).
FIRST EDITION. THE DEDICATION COPY, INSCRIBED BY HEMINGWAY TO HIS SECOND WIFE PAULINE on the dedication page: "To Pauline: with very much love (remembering many places) Ernest."
Death in the Afternoon, published when Hemingway was in his early thirties, "represents the author at his best, first as a writer and second as someone who was never satisfied with knowing only a little about his subject but who always dug deeply until he had both the essence and the smallest details" (Charles M. Oliver, Ernest Hemingway A to Z. New York, 1999, p. 74). In the note at the end, Hemingway writes the book is "intended as an introduction to the modern Spanish bullfight [and] attempts to explain that spectacle both emotionally and practically." Hemingway's classic study of bullfighting-his first book length work of non-fiction-is considered to be the best book on the subject by a non-Spaniard.
In 1925, Hemingway met Pauline Pfeiffer, an American heiress and sometime correspondent for French Vogue, while he was still married to Hadley Richardson, mother of their two-year old son John ("Bumby"). They became romantically involved in 1926, when Hemingway stopped in Paris on his return to Hadley in Schruns, Austria from New York.
Hadley tolerated the relationship for months, but finally presented Hemingway with an ultimatum: he must send Pauline away for 100 days and if, after the 100 days, he still wanted to maintain his 'other woman,' Hadley would grant him a divorce. Hadley's strategy-no doubt intended to save her marriage-wildly backfired: it gave her husband and his mistress the opportunity to exchange many self-indulgent letters in which they portrayed themselves as persecuted lovers torn unfairly apart. In their communications during this enforced separation, Ernest and Pauline seem to compete for the title of most suffering, most devoted lover.
In a letter written December 3, 1926, just before Hadley would give in and terminate the separation, Hemingway wrote Pauline: "and I've sense enough to know when I think all the time I want to die that I'm just a fool because what I think about as wanting to die is just to have oblivion until I can have Pfeiffer" (Selected Letters, ed. Baker, p. 235).
On January 27, 1927, Hemingway and Hadley were divorced and Hemingway's second marriage occurred just a few months later. Their marriage remained strong and vibrant for more than a decade, and produced two children (Patrick, born 1928 and Gregory, born November 1931, just one month prior to the publication of Death in the Afternoon). Traveling extensively, the couple spent great amounts of time in Cuba, Miami, and Key West, where in December 1931 they purchased a house at 907 Whitehead Street, paid for by Pauline's Uncle Gus, who also paid the bill for the safari out of which came The Green Hills of Africa.
The initially blissful union began to deteriorate in 1938, when Hemingway began sleeping with a number of women including Martha Gellhorn, whom he married in 1940, months after he divorced Pauline. When that relationship soured too, Hemingway idealized his first marriage with Hadley and continued to blame Pauline for breaking them apart. Some years later, Hemingway came up with a unique analysis of his dealings with women, and with Pauline in particular, which he shared with Maxwell Perkins:
"A Woman ruined Scott [Fitzgerald]. It wasn't just Scott ruining himself. But why couldn't he have told her just to go to hell? Because she was sick. It's being sick makes them act so bloody awful usually and its because they're sick you can't treat them as you should If they lock up all the women who were crazy-but why speculate-I've known goddamned good ones; but take as good a woman as Pauline-a hell of a wonderful woman-and once she turns mean. Although, of course, it is your own actions that turn her mean. Mine I mean. Not yours. Anyway, let's leave the subject. If you leave a woman, though, you probably ought to shoot her" (Selected Letters, ed. Baker, pp. 553-54). Hanneman A10a.