Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 23rd 2015 Contents B29
Thursday, July 23, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Eighty years after the release of Green
Hills of Africa, the son and grandson of
Ernest Hemingway are urging a fresh look
at a work critics have often set aside.
Published in 1935, Green Hills of Africa
was Hemingway s account of a hunting
safari on the Serengeti Plains, a chronicle
of adventure and a literary challenge Hem-
ingway set up for himself. Anticipating by
decades Truman Capote s "nonfiction novel,"
the classic In Cold Blood, Hemingway want-
ed to prove that "an absolutely true book"
can "compete with a work of the imagina-
The new edition is part of a series autho-
rised by the Hemingway estate that already
includes reissues of A Moveable Feast, The
Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms.
Grandson Sean Hemingway contributes an
introduction, while son Patrick Hemingway,
a boy at the time his parents were in Africa,
shares personal memories. The book also
includes photographs, early drafts of the
finished narrative and a diary kept by the
author s then wife, Pauline Pfeiffer.
"She s not a person who s well known,
so it s wonderful to have a sustained piece
of writing by her," Sean Hemingway said
recently of his grandmother, the second of
Ernest Hemingway s four wives. "It s also
a wonderful complement to my grandfather s
As Pfeiffer s diaries reveal, Green Hills of
Africa was not entirely factual. The author
rearranged some chronology and minimized
a bout of dysentery so severe that he had
to be flown out of the area. Pfeiffer s journal
also describes a near-tragedy---the author s
rifle fell off a car and fired---that inspired
Hemingway s classic short story The Short
Happy Life of Francis Macomber, in which
the title character is killed by a sudden blast
from his wife s gun.
In the decade before Green Hills of Africa,
the story collection In Our Time and the
The cover of the recently reissued Green Hills of
Africa by Ernest Hemingway. The son and grandson
of Ernest Hemingway are urging a fresh look at a
work critics have often set aside. AP PHOTO
novels The Sun Also Rises and A Farewell to Arms
had made Hemingway one of the world s most famous
authors. Critics have viewed Green Hills of Africa,
written while he was in his mid-30s, as an early sign
of his legend overtaking his work. Edmund Wilson,
who had been a leading champion of Hemingway,
despaired that the author in his nonfiction persona
had become a bloated parody, Ernest Hemingway,
the Old Master of Key West.
More recently, Green Hills of Africa has been crit-
icised for its detailed catalog of animal slaughter and
for its reduction of Africa and Africans to backdrops
for the author s personal experiences. "I hope I won t
offend with heresy when I say that Hemingway never
had both feet down on Africa, never really was in
Africa," Nobel laureate Nadine Gordimer of South
Africa said during a 1999 symposium at the John F
Kennedy Library in Boston, where Hemingway s lit-
erary papers are stored.
Sean Hemingway acknowledged that parts of Green
Hills might be uncomfortable for modern readers,
but noted that the book had inspired many people s
interest in Africa---his own included---and provided
a snapshot not just of the author in his physical
prime but of a historical moment.
"I do think that s part of the great value of this
book---that it is a true life account of an actual safari
at that time," he said, adding that many of the places
his grandfather camped are now parks and heritage
sights where hunting is banned.
"I think people get something more (out of the
book) than the rather empty tourism that happens
so often now," Patrick Hemingway said during a
recent telephone interview. "I have had to listen to
a lot of people tell me what a wonderful time they
had in Africa, riding in a minibus and seeing a lion
in a tree."
Among the first people to raise concerns about
the events in Green Hills was Ernest Hemingway. In
the book, he wonders if a broken arm he once suffered
was retribution for hunting and imagines how a bull
elk would feel "if you break a shoulder." He also fears
the consequences of Western countries expanding
into an undeveloped region.
"A continent ages quickly once we come. The
natives live in harmony with it. But the foreigner
destroys, cuts down the trees, drains the waters
supply so that the water supply is altered," he writes.
"The earth gets tired of being exploited." (AP)
Hemingway's Green Hills of Africa reissued
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