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This issue of The Hemingway Review is dedicated to the memory of Robert W. Lewis, the Chester Fritz Distinguished Professor Emeritus of English at the University of North Dakota. He was one of the founding members of the Hemingway Society present at the Thompson Island gathering during the 1980 John F. Kennedy Library conference in Boston. In 1986, he served as director/program chair of the Second International Hemingway Conference in Lignano, Italy. Lewis was elected to multiple terms of the Society Presidency, serving from 1987 through 1992, and he led the Society through the momentous era when it became the Hemingway Foundation.
His critical, scholarly, and editorial work on Hemingway included scores of essays and four books: his important early volume, Hemingway on Love (1965); Hemingway in Italy and Other Essays (1990); A Farewell to Arms: The War of the Words (1992); and, co-edited with Robert Fleming, Hemingway’s Under Kilimanjaro (2005). In 2013, he completed the manuscript of his book, Reading Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms, for the Kent State University Press “Reading Hemingway” series. As editor of North Dakota Quarterly for more than three decades (1982–2013), Lewis published many landmark special Hemingway issues of the NDQ.
On a more personal note: when, on the day of Bob’s death, I sent out an e-mail message to my many current and former students engaged in Hemingway studies, announcing our loss of a great editor, teacher, scholar, literary critic and colleague, I was struck by the responses I received and [End Page 1] how they expressed, aside from admiration for his scholarly and editorial acumen, a deep appreciation for his wit and warmth and wisdom, and his extraordinary generosity to students and colleagues. In the weeks since his passing, I have read many such testimonials to Bob as a beloved teacher and colleague, an identity that marked all his years of teaching at the universities of Nebraska, Illinois, and Texas; his Fulbright teaching in Italy and Egypt; and his more than three decades at the University of North Dakota. In his eulogy at the memorial held at the North Dakota Museum of Art, Donald Junkins summed things up this way: “Bob’s talent and energy and love of life were boundless. He left many lovely lessons in seeing, reading, writing, being.”
Shortly before his death, Bob and I had our last phone conversation. As usual, we talked about gardening. For three decades Bob and I shared our passion for Hemingway and for gardening. We talked endlessly about tilth and terroir, soil and seeds, garlic and leeks. Some years, I sent him my special garlic cloves and leek seeds to plant. And here, on my land in the Hudson Valley (sometimes called the Durendale Division of Roncevaux Farms), I have planted seeds he sent me as he planted seeds I sent him in North Dakota. Of the things I sent, one of his favorites were some leek seeds that I had given the name Durendale Poireaux. For decades, I had brought seeds, rare poireaux-leek varietals, home from France. Over the years, they crossed or hybridized or naturalized in my soil and I gave them the name Durendale Poireaux. I do not sell these special seeds; I give them away to anyone who shares a passion for gardening (or at least for Hemingway’s appreciation of leeks in Islands in the Stream). Now, in honor of Bob, I am renaming this variety RWL Poireaux #1. In fact, they will be distributed under that name in the back of a limited edition of poems on garlic and leeks that will be dedicated to Bob Lewis. Whatever the merits of the poems therein, this small gardener’s book (bound in “garlic-paper”) will at least have the distinction of being the only book of poems that comes with a packet of leek-seeds as the appendix. And soon, for Bob, on the first windy day of harvest season, I will speak some words from Hemingway and scatter RWL Poireaux #1 seeds over my land. Some will take hold for over-wintering. Leeks...