Ernest Hemingway Rediscovered consists of three distinct parts: one hundred fifty or so black and white photographs by Roberto Herrera Sotolongo, most of them taken in and around Cuba between 1940-1959, a text by Norberto Fuentes, translated from French, and, at the end of the volume, a set of color photographs of Finca Vigia and its contents taken by Jean-Paul Pairault.
The text by Fuentes—he is said to have been Hemingway's private secretary—adds little to our understanding of Hemingway's life. Fuentes repeats some of the discredited accounts of Hemingway's World War One experiences and his alleged antisubmarine activity during World War Two and in general and typically casts a kindly light over his subject's sometimes reprehensible behavior. For instance, of the well-known occasion on which Hemingway stranded Archibald MacLeish on an island in the Florida Keys, Fuentes writes: "Only a fisherman can hope to understand Hemingway's reaction on that particular occasion. . . . [End Page 747] His pride was wounded and this must explain his otherwise unaccountable behaviour. Every fisherman who ever lived has experienced that feeling of injured pride when the fish just aren't there. In Hemingway the feeling took on colossal proportions."
Clearly, the Sotolongo photographs, "the majority never seen before," are the raison d'être of this book. Many of them are full page (10 x 12), showing Hemingway drunk, lounging in a rocking chair, embracing Mary, sitting naked on a beach, standing beside an elephant (and looking somewhat elephantine himself), and so on. The effect, in short, is like going through Hemingway's private photograph album, had he had one, which we are assured he had not.
The concluding set of photographs by Pairault are of the sort one might expect to find in an expensively got up cathedral catalogue—in color and artfully composed shots of Hemingway's Cuban house and its various relics, including one of a table napkin, Hemingway's shoes, boots, glasses, and vest. There is even one of his toilet.
For the Hemingway scholar, this volume (intended for the "general reader") may stand as a vivid instance of the continuing power of the Hemingway legend, financial and otherwise.