Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Paris Wife

I thought today's discussion of The Paris Wife was especially unique in that the book was closely biographical, only not quite.  Maureen noted that we had a similar book with Half Broke Horses, only the author took the liberty to write in the first person and we were critical of that decision.

We have all reading Hemmingway somewhere along our academic paths so I think our discussion today is the only time when we mixed equally what we know about the subject of the fiction along with the narrative of the author.  The book was written in Hadley's voice and yet we talked more about Hem than Hadley. 

Many questions cropped up.  How much did their age disparity matter?  How much authority did Hadley's thoughts carry in the literary debate?  How did the fact that they both had domineering mothers matter - and later fathers who dispatched themselves?  Was Hem ever happy?  And Joann's question - when was convinced of his genius?  How does an brilliant artist know they are brilliant?  Carolyn and I both thought of Picasso. We were flummoxed.

Maureen found an old copy of a book called Hemingway with pictures of all the star players which we passed around - truly beautiful people.  I think we only uncovered the ongoing fascination with the Left Bank artists and an epic writer known affectionately as Papa.  It's clear to me how a semester could be devoted to his life and work.  He was a difficult man but we did agree that he was brilliant.

And then we broke to vote on our reading selection for next year which I've updated in the left column of this blog.  Another wonderful year of reading awaits us.