Skiing

There were no ski lifts from Schruns and no funiculars; but there were logging trails and cattle trails that led up different mountain valleys to the high mountain country.  You climbed on foot carrying your skis and higher up, where the snow was too deep, you climbed on seal skins that you attached to the bottoms of the skis.  At the tops of mountain valleys there were the big Alpine Club huts for summer climbers where you could sleep and leave payment for any wood you used.  In some you had to pack up your own wood, or if you were going on a long tour in the high mountains and the glaciers, you hired someone to pack wood and supplies up with you, and established a base.  The most famous of these high base huts were the Lindauer-Hütte, the Madlener-Hause and the Wiesbadener-Hütte.

So says Hemingway in A Moveable Feast, “Winters in Schruns”

Skiing was not the way it is now, the spiral fracture had not become common then, and no one could afford a broken leg.  There were no ski patrols.  Anything you ran down from, you had to climb up to first, and you could run down only as often as you could climb up.  That made you have legs that were fit to run down with.

And what did you eat, Hemingway?

We were always hungry and every meal time was a great event.  We drank light or dark beer and new wines and wines that were a year old sometimes.  The white wines were the best.  For other drinks there was wonderful kirsch made in the valley and Enzian Schnapps distilled from mountain gentian.  Sometimes for dinner there would be jugged hare with a rich red wine sauce, and sometimes venison with chestnut sauce.  We would drink red wine with these even though it was more expensive than white wine, and the very best cost twenty cents a liter.  Ordinary red wine was much cheaper and we packed it up in kegs to the Madlener-Haus.

What was the worst thing you remember?

The worst thing I remember of that avalanche winter was one man who was dug out.  He had squatted down and made a box with his arms in front of his head, as we had been taught to do, so that there would be air to breathe as the snow rose up over you.  It was a huge avalanche and it took a long time to dig everyone out, and this man was the last to be found.  He had not been dead long and his neck was worn through so that the tendons and the bones were visible.  He had been turning his head from side to side against the pressure of the snow.  In this avalanche there must have been some old, packed snow mixed in with the new light snow that had slipped.  We could not decide whether he had done it on purpose or if he had been out of his head.  But there was no problem because he was refused burial in consecrated ground by the local priest anyway; since there was no proof he was a Catholic.

What else do you remember?

I remember the smell of the pines and the sleeping on the mattresses of beech leaves in the woodcutters’ huts and the skiing through the forest following the tracks of hares and of foxes.  In the high mountains above the tree line I remember following the track of a fox until I came in sight of him and watching him stand with his forefoot raised and then go on carefully to sop and then pounce, and the whiteness and the clutter of a ptarmigan bursting out of the snow and flying away and over the ridge.

And, did you, btw, sleep with your wife’s best friend?

The last year in the mountains new people came deep into our lives and nothing was ever the same again.  The winter of the avalanches was like a happy and innocent winter in childhood compared to that winter and the murderous summer that was to follow.  Hadley and I had become too confident in each other and careless in our confidence and pride.  In the mechanics of how this was penetrated I have never tried to apportion the blame, except my own part, and that was clearer all my life.  The bulldozing of three people’s hearts to destroy one happiness and build another and the love and the good work and all that came out of it is not part of this book.  I wrote it and left it out.  It is a complicated, valuable, instructive story.  How it all ended, finally, has nothing to do with this either.  Any blame in that was mine to take and possess and understand.  The only one, Hadley, who had no possible blame, ever, came well out of it finally and married a much finer man that I ever was or could hope to be and is happy and deserves it and that was one good and lasting thing that came out of that year.

Google, show me Schruns:

 

 


Hemingway Writing Advice

one of the descendants of Hemingway’s messed-up, inbred, extra-toe cats in Key West

In a 1935 Esquire piece, Hemingway, already playing the preening dickhead, gives some writing advice that I think is clear-eyed and well-expressed.

Writing room in Hem house in Key West

The setup is a young man has come to visit him in Key West, and Hemingway has given him the nickname Maestro because he played the violin.

MICE: How can a writer train himself?

Y.C.: Watch what happens today. If we get into a fish see exact it is that everyone does. If you get a kick out of it while he is jumping remember back until you see exactly what the action was that gave you that emotion. Whether it was the rising of the line from the water and the way it tightened like a fiddle string until drops started from it, or the way he smashed and threw water when he jumped. Remember what the noises were and what was said. Find what gave you the emotion, what the action was that gave you the excitement. Then write it down making it clear so the reader will see it too and have the same feeling you had. Thatʼs a five finger exercise. Mice: All right.

Y.C.: Then get in somebody elseʼs head for a change If I bawl you out try to figure out what Iʼm thinking about as well as how you feel about it. If Carlos curses Juan think what both their sides of it are. Donʼt just think who is right. As a man things are as they should or shouldnʼt be. As a man you know who is right and who is wrong. You have to make decisions and enforce them. As a writer you should not judge. You should understand.

Mice: All right.

Y.C.: Listen now. When people talk listen completely. Donʼt be thinking what youʼre going to say. Most people never listen. Nor do they observe. You should be able to go into a room and when you come out know everything that you saw there and not only that. If that room gave you any feeling you should know exactly what it was that gave you that feeling. Try that for practice. When youʼre in town stand outside the theatre and see how people differ in the way they get out of taxis or motor cars. There are a thousand ways to practice. And always think of other people.

Mice: Do you think I will be a writer?

Y.C.: How the hell should I know? Maybe youʼve got no talent. Maybe you canʼt feel for other people. Youʼve got some good stories if you can write them. Mice: How can I tell?

Y.C.: Write. If you work at it five years and you find youʼre no good you can just as well shoot yourself then as now.

Mice: I wouldnʼt shoot myself.

Y.C.: Come around then and Iʼll shoot you.

Mice: Thanks.

This article is behind a paywall at Esquire but I found it reprinted on the website of Diana Drake, who has story by credit on the film What Women Want.


Hemingway

 

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Dinner with James and Nora Joyce:

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A troubled fourth marriage:

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Last stop on the Hemingway/Lillian Ross tour of the Met

We came to El Greco’s green “View of Toledo” and stood looking at it a long time.  “This is the best picture in the Museum for me, and Christ knows there are some lovely ones,” Hemingway said.

After we reached the Cezannes and Degases and the other Impressionists, Hemingway became more and more excited, and discoursed on what each artist could do and how and what he had learned from each.  Patrick listened respectfully and didn’t seem to want to talk about painting techniques any more.  Hemingway spent several minutes looking at Cezanne’s “Rocks – Forest of Fontainebleu.”  “This is what we try to do in writing, this and this, and the woods, and the rocks we have to climb over,” he said.  “Cezanne is my painter, after the early painters.  Wonder, wonder painter…

As we walked along, Hemingway said to me, “I can make a landscape like Mr. Paul Cezanne.  I learned how to make a landscape from Mr. Paul Cezanne by walking through the Luxembourg Museum a thousand times with an empty gut, and I am pretty sure that if Mr. Paul was around, he would like the way I make them and be happy that I learned it from him.”

Wiki, close out Cezanne for us:

One day, Cézanne was caught in a storm while working in the field. Only after working for two hours under a downpour did he decide to go home; but on the way he collapsed. He was taken home by a passing driver. His old housekeeper rubbed his arms and legs to restore the circulation; as a result, he regained consciousness. On the following day, he intended to continue working, but later on he fainted; the model with whom he was working called for help; he was put to bed, and he never left it again. He died a few days later, on 22nd October 1906. He died of pneumonia and was buried at the old cemetery in his beloved hometown of Aix-en-Provence.


Captain George K. H. Coussmaker (Joshua Reynolds, 1782)

“What the hell!” Hemingway said suddenly. “I don’t want to be an art critic.  I just want to look at pictures and be happy with them and learn from them.  Now, this for me is a damn good picture.”  He stood back and peered at a Reynolds entitled “Colonel George Coussmaker,” which shows the Colonel leaning against a tree and holding his horse’s bridle.  “Now, this Colonel is a son of a bitch who was willing to pay money to the best portrait painter of his day just to have himself painted,” Hemingway said, and gave a short laugh.  “Look at the man’s arrogance and the strength in the neck of the horse and the way the man’s legs hang.  He’s so arrogant he can afford to lean against a tree.”

remembers Miss Ross.

Coussmaker sat for Reynolds 21 times and his horse 8 times between February 9 and April 16, 1782 – an exceptional number of times.


Van Dyck, Portrait Of The Artist (possibly 1620-21)

Weighed in already but let’s get Hemingway’s take:

Mrs. Hemingway called to us.  She was looking at “Portrait of the Artist” by Van Dyck.  Hemingway looked at it, nodded approval, and said, “In Spain, we had a fighter pilot named Whitey Dahl, so Whitey came to me one time and said, ‘Mr. Hemingway, is Van Dyck a good painter?’ I said ‘Yes, he is.’ He said, ‘Well, I’m glad, because I have one in my room and I like it very much, and I’m glad he’s a good painter because I like him.’  The next day, Whitey was shot down.”

– from Miss Ross again.


Portrait of Federigo Gonzaga (Francesco Francia, 1510)

“Here’s what I like, Papa,” Patrick said, and Hemingway joined his son in front of “Portrait of Federigo Gonzaga (1500-1540) by Francesco Francia.  It shows, against a landscape, a small boy with long hair and a cloak.

“This is what we try to do when we write, Mousie,” Hemingway said, pointing to the trees in the background.  “We always have this in when we write.”

– “How Do You Like It Now, Gentleman,” by Lillian Ross, The New Yorker, May 13, 1950