restricted access Gerald Murphy and Ernest Hemingway: Part I
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GERALD MURPHY AND ERNEST HEMINGWAY: PARTI Linda Patterson Miller* At the urging of F. Scott Fitzgerald, and through the auspices of Donald Ogden Stewart, Ernest Hemingway met Gerald Murphy in late 1925. He immediately found Murphy and his wife Sara "grand people" and took them sufficiently into his confidence by December to read to them, straight through, The Torrents of Spring. He later regretted this, questioning in A Moveable Feast how he could be so "trusting" and so "stupid" as to read his writing aloud to these people, "which is about as low as a writer can get and much more dangerous for him as a writer than glacier skiing unroped before the full winter snowfall has set over the crevices."1 Hemingway also later regretted his relationship with Gerald Murphy, primarily because Hemingway associated Murphy with his 1926 break with Hadley, to which Hemingway traced his later unhappiness. By the time Hemingway was at work on his Paris memoirs in 1958, he would say outright that while he "loved Sara," he "never could stand Gerald but . . . did." His direct putdown of Murphy surfaces clearly in the manuscript, which depicts Gerald and Sara Murphy as the "understanding rich who have no bad qualities" until "they have passed and taken the nourishment they needed."2 When Murphy read A Moveable Feast upon its spring 1964 publication, he was understandably shocked and hurt by the thinly disguised portrayal of himself. "I am— contre coeur [reluctantly] —in Ernest's book," Murphy wrote Archibald MacLeish on May 30, 1964. "What a strange kind of bitterness—or rather accusitoriness. . . . What shocking ethics! How well written, of course. What an indictment. "¦' Hemingway's printed indictment of Murphy came almost four decades after their relationship had taken on a special dimension in the spring of 1926. Although Hemingway met Murphy in Paris in late 1925, the week he and John Dos Passos and Murphy spent skiing the Swiss Alps in March, 1926, made them part as "brothers."4 As often happened with Hemingway's friends, he would put them to the test in some way, and with Murphy, the first test came in the form of a mountain which challenged his minimal skiing skills. Years later Murphy described the experience: "¦Linda Patterson Miller is an Assistant Professor of English at Pennsylvania State University, Ogontz. She has published articles in The Journal of Modern Literature, Renascence, The American Transcendental Quarterly, and elsewhere. She has recently edited the correspondence of Gerald and Sara Murphy and is currently at work on a biography of Gerald Murphy. 130Linda Patterson Miller I had spent two days doggedly practicing and falling down and had learned the rudiments. . . . Dos didn't bother to learn, because his eyesight was so bad, he knew it was no use. When we started down, Dos just decided to go straight and sit down whenever he saw a tree. ... I managed to get down the first part without falling. When, in the second part, we had to go through a forest, I managed that pretty well too, falling only once or twice. Ernest would stop every twenty yards or so to make sure we were alright, and when we got to the bottom, about a half an hour later, he asked me if I'd been scared. I said, yes, I guess I had. He said then that he knew what cpurage was, it was grace under pressure. It was childish of me, but I felt absolutely elated.5 The second test came later that summer in Spain when Hemingway encouraged Murphy to enter the bullring at one of the morning amateurs . Murphy found it impossible to refuse Hemingway's challenge and reluctantly found himself in the ring being charged suddenly by one of the bulls. Only after moving his raincoat to the left to perform a quick and rather unwitting veronica did Murphy narrowly escape injury. Later Murphy would apologize. "I had not wanted to feel or look a fool in the face of the thing I respected," he told Hemingway. "Next year . . . I'll do it well, Papa. To want to do a thing well even at first is still one of my complications. I was wrong...